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The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep - Blu-ray DVD / family and children's DVD review
Rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 42 stars
Featuring: Bruce Allpress, Geraldine Brophy, Eddie Campbell, Ben Chaplin, Brian Cox, Alex Etel
Director: Jay Russell   Studio: Columbia/Tri-Star
DVD release: 08 April 2008   Runtime: 112 minutes (1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, Blu-ray
DVD features:Audio tracks (Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround - English, French, Portugese; Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround - Spanish, Thai), Subtitles (English, French, Spanish, Portugese, Chinese, Korean, Thai), 1080p/AVC MPEG-4, Bloopers, Deleted scenes, Behind-the-scenes featurettes (Myths and Legends, The Story, The Characters, Setting the Scene, Water Work: Creating the Water Hourse, Creating Crusoe), Virtual Crusoe game

Based on a book by Dick King-Smith (who wrote over a dozen children's books including the one made into the movie Babe), and directed by Jay Russell (Ladder 49, Tuck Everlasting), The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep brings to life an age-old and mysterious legend.

Angus finds an unusual rock in a tide pool that turns out to be not a rock at all. The tiny amphibious creature that finds its way out from the egg is dubbed "Crusoe" by his new little caretaker. It is from Lewis Mowbrey (Ben Chaplin), the new handyman, that Angus finds out exactly what his new pet is. From an ancient Celtic legend that says there can be only one water horse in the world at any one time, it is the rarest of all legendary creatures. When it grows old, it lays a single, lonely egg before it dies. Recruiting his sister to help keep his new friend, a secret brings them closer together for the sharing.

The workshop has a very authentic feel to it, ancient and dusty, while the house is dramatic and welcoming all at the same time. The lands are genuinely gorgeous, lush green fields and hills that fall into the rocky seaside. The manor house is situated over the deepest of the Scottish lochs, and while the tale is one of wonder and fantasy and one boy's hope, the backdrop is war. The front lines of war are an ugly place for a sensitive and slightly simple sort of a little boy. His father died at sea, during the war, and his widowed mother (Emily Watson ) is a very busy housekeeper. Young Angus MacMarrow (Alex Etel) is often left to his own devices.

The egotistical, somewhat scheming Captain Hamilton (David Morrissey) of the British Navy swoops in to make his base camp in and around the house. It is his doing, his and his men, that creates the need for escape for Crusoe. It is this World War II camp that really brings all of the tension to the film. Brian Cox makes a wonderful narrator as he tells the story of the famed Loch Ness to a couple of modern-day tourists.

It is somewhat over-acted by the adults, with unexplained bits of tension here and there, especially near the beginning. Young Angus and the Narrator are both remarkable - if not for their enthusiasm and belief, we might not believe as we absorb the storytelling.

Crowned by an emotional ballad in true Scottish feeling by Sinéad O'Connor, the music in this one is exactly what it should be: a compliment to the story, rather than a character in itself. It adds a perfect little something to the tale as a pinch of salt adds a little something to pasta. James Newton Howard, multiple Academy Award winner, arranged the music for the film.

The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep is an intense emotional experience, ranging from sadness to fear to excitement and back again. And belief, in a little bit of archaic magic and a lot of a little boy's love.
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reviewed by Nancy Atkinson
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