'Water Horse' a fun family flick
"Water Horse: Legend of the Deep" is a heart-warming new computer animation film that is a bit smarter than typical cartoon fare. While it entertains the children, it will leave even the parents wondering what will happen next.
The movie takes place in Scotland during the World War II era. A young boy named Angus ( Alex Etel) finds an egg while hunting for sea shells. He brings it home and investigates to see what it is. Leaving it on the sink in the gardening shed overnight, he returns the next morning to find that it's gone - it must have hatched. He finds the tiny creature and names him Crusoe as he feeds and takes care of the odd looking critter.
He keeps him in the gardening shed until a new gardener, Lewis Mowbray (Ben Chaplin) is hired.
Angus is pushed out of the shed where he keeps momentos of his father and bulletin boards and news clippings from where his father's unit is serving. As troops move in, the boy slowly loses room of his own. His secret pet isn't kept a secret for long, since the creature doubles in size very quickly. Angus confides in his sister Kirstie (Priyanka Xi) about his pet and is forced to confide in Lewis as well. Between the water horse growing so quickly and the soldiers' pet bulldog that is just as scared of Crusoe as Crusoe is of it, many problems ensue.
There is plenty of fun to be had here, especially in the cute events between the dog and the water horse. But soon enough they are running out of places to hide him and have no other choice but to relocate the fast-growing creature. Since the setting is Scotland you have probably guessed where he's located to - that's right, Loch Ness.
We learn more about the the history of the animal and see the bond grow between the creature and Angus, with the boy playing an almost parental role.
We also get to watch at Angus begins his journey in bravery and tolerance as the soldier that takes a liking to his mother, Capt. Hamilton, (David Morrissey) tries to make a young boy a man by training him as a soldier. Angus stays a true friend to Crusoe and Lewis. When soldiers begin shooting anti-submarine nets into the deep loch, it is up to our young hero to take action to save the hidden creature.
The story from there does grow a little tense - my own older children were glued to their chairs, but the youngest crawled into our laps. Still, it isn't too scary, and all ages of children should enjoy this.
I enjoyed it as much as my children, since they didn't skimp on the history, and the animation very attractive. Together, the history and imagination make it a good family choice.
The artistry of Crusoe is compared with Shrek and E.T., but to me this one seems more "real."
* "The Water Horse" is now playing at some area theaters. Rated PG for some action/peril, mild language and brief smoking. Run time, 111 minutes. Our ranking - 3 stars out of 5.