Science fiction and fantasy
The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep
directed by Jay Russell
Yet Angus gets more company than he expected when soldiers are billeted with them in the stately home that his mother is the housekeeper of. This presents a problem, because it means there are more people that Angus has to hide the creature from. He calls it Crusoe, although he has no idea exactly what it is. However he does know that his mother won't let him keep a pet, and he has to steer clear of the army, some of whom are especially keen hunters. But as the water horse grows it gets harder and harder to hide, and a challenge to feed.
When Lewis (Ben Chaplin) arrives to take a job as the new handyman, Angus feels that he's taking the place of his father. Captain Hamilton (David Morrissey) suspects Lewis is a coward or a deserter because he's not in the military, and the tight-lipped handyman seems to get on the wrong side of everyone to begin with. Beneath all of the fun Angus has trying to conceal a sweet and unruly animal, there's an undercurrent of anxiety because there's a war on.
The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep has plenty of slapstick humour, but on the whole it's about loneliness and separation, and a boy who misses his father. Angus has to come to terms with loss, and friendship comes to mean more than anything to him. It's quite a weepie.
Alex Etel puts in a spirited and convincing performance as Angus, in spite of his youth. The supporting characters are a little exaggerated and comic, but not to the extent of caricature. The real star of the show, though, is Crusoe. The water horse is impressively animated in all of his incarnations, from egg to adulthood. He looks a little like a cross between a seal, a horse and a dinosaur, with possibly a little turtle thrown in for good measure.
The movie is charming, cute, saccharine, and as safe as you would expect a family-oriented movie to be. There are just a few hints of darkness, thanks to the military theme. The twists at the end are predictable, but this isn't a huge drawback since it's a film for kids, and it doesn't rely on a few twists at the end to provide all of the drama. If you like simple, sentimental stories peppered with gentle humour and sweet yet fantastic beasts then The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep will hit the spot.
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