Friday, February 22, 2008

Water Horse

"Perfectly acceptable family entertainment." This is, you understand, the darkest possible fate for a movie: an eternal limbo for the competent but dreary. Technically unassailable, there is isn't enough vim in the plot or characters to keep anyone (and by anyone I mean the lad in the seat in front of me that resorted to hitting himself to stay awake) in the least involved. Reviews have noted the plurality of (generally better) movies that are evoked: E.T, Free Willie, Das Boot, The Secret of Roan Inish, Whale Rider, etc. There is not, in short anything original going on, even though it looks nice. Emily Watson is totally wasted and did not, apparently, receive the memo that actual acting would not be required. Behind her eyes you can sense a whole other movie that was probably pretty good.

My scenario for Water Horse: Home Defence troops billeted in your mouldy old manse? Ghosts are not evoked as a throw-away line but are part and parcel of the otherworldly goings-on to follow. Haunted? You bet! By the guilty souls of the ancient family that have controlled the monster in the loch. When the owner was called away to war (as the commander of the ship of the boy's father, natch!) the frayed, druidic fabric that kept the ancient fury in check finally fails. The billeted battalion is not going to mistake Nessie for a U-Boat! They're your allies, not a flaccid plot complication. And to make it more interesting for them, they're party to a tontine as well, or maybe a State Secret that the Ancient One of the Lake actually won the war. (Instead of a bulldog named Churchill har har, we have Churchill as a character.) Let's give the beast a reason to feel betrayed by the little boy (one of many subplots left to rot by the movie). He plays with toy boats and submarines, a U-boat presumably killed his dad, a u-boat is mistaken for a friend by Nessie, Nessie, lets the u-boat into the loch ... Nessie will be crushing u-Boats, to be sure, but also luring them into dangerous reefs and grinding rocks with songs that are sonar (if they had sonar), and sending dreams into the Hun foreheads of the captains that the sea is the beginning and the end of all sea-faring men and that they just might be better off home in the arms of their floury fraus. Emily Watson is still the mother of the little boy and instead of an informed performance of a woman in quiet grief raising a pasty brat she becomes the real danger to the water horse. Not because she doesn't believe or won't believe but because she is going to ride the magic monster to the sea-deep grave of her sailor husband and wrestle him away from his watery bed so that HE can raise their pasty-faced annoyance. Oh and the charming, heroic, handyman veteran that shows up to be proxy father and husband? He's toast in some way or another, probably undone by the messy engines of widow's grief that she cobbles from the submarine stone henge in the loch and the howitzers on the shore that she will use to break the water horse to her will. He'll wish that Jerry's shell had torn his arm off after he is witness to her Caledonian machinations against the domain of the dead. Because she's a witch! It was she who contrived to send the laird to war and to his doom not realizing that she cursed her own husband to drowning. (they are completely ignorant of this and are even pals or at least sympathetic to each other .. sidelight). Unless Brian Cox is cast as a druid or heavy-water engineer I'm afraid he's off the picture. Perhaps it is Brian Cox that has to re-establish the sensible order of constrained monster after the war is won. Appropriate eldritch terror. Who will have to sacrifice happiness or life? There may be a sequence in which Picts commandeer a PT boat. JFK may or may not be present.

2 comments:

  1. Sorry i got bored half way through! Tee hee! laugh out loud!! I mean I am a youngin!! tee hee :D

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  2. ~Kyle~
    I saw it with you! it was good in my eyes! i know that you didn't like it though! you must have somewhat liked it though because you wanted your crucio clay dude to be in the clay-mation movie.
    ~Bridget White~

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