Water Horse, Legend of the Deep, The (2007)

Rated: PG
Length: 112 Minutes
Grade: BABB=B
Budget: $45 million (Probable)
Box Office: $40 million US, $59 million Intl, $ million DVD

Directed by: Jay Russell, who previously directed Ladder 49, Tuck Everlasting, My Dog Skip, and End of the Line.
Starring: Alex Etel, Emily Watson, Ben Chaplin, David Morrissey, and Brian Cox.

A young boy living on Loch Ness discovers a buried egg which hatches and grows up to become the famous monster during World War II.

Entertainment Value: B
This is another Walden Media movie, and, as they have demonstrated before, they make good family movies from books. The plot is interesting, the CGI for the creature was done by Weta, who became famous for their work on Lord of the Rings, and generally this is an entertaining film.

Superficial Content: A
Drugs/Alcohol B, Sexuality A, Violence B+, Language A, Illegality A
Yet again I disagree vehemently with the MPAA here. The only drug use is that there’s some smoking and several scenes at Scottish bars with alcohol, which strike me as particularly silly things to grade down for. The backdrop for the story is that the father has been killed in action but the boy doesn’t know this yet. There are some very moderately scary scenes with the monster, but I though less troubling than the climactic battle sequence in Sleeping Beauty with the dragon. I let Spencer watch it, and he seemed totally untroubled by it.

Significant Content: B
Imagination is important. Loyalty is important. Warfare is destructive of both bodies and spirits. Sometimes magic is real. The only real negative here is that the boy keeps the creature secret from his mother with the complicity of other characters.

Artistic/Thought Value: B
I thought the animation was particularly good, and no surprise coming from Weta. Also, although the format for the movie was a rip-off of the Princess Bride story-telling concept, it still worked rather well. But even the way the story was staged had a kind of simple authenticity that has become the expected norm for Walden Media. They’re not likely to produce any masterpieces, but so far most everything they make is pretty good. Certainly good enough to say that Walden Media is the modern-day live-action heir to the Walt Disney throne.

Discussion Questions:
~What should Mowbray have done when he discovered Angus’s secret?
~Why do you think Mowbray is so particular about who uses which name of his?
~Who in this movie demonstrates real courage? Cowardice?
~Why is it important for people to dream up imaginary creatures? Is there any harm in thinking they are real?
~Why do you think Christians are sometimes troubled by the idea of fantasy stories, magic, and imagination?
~Do you believe the Loch Ness monster is a real creature?
~Captain Hamilton tries to protect Angus from Mowbray and teach him discipline by doing soldier activities. Why does he fail? Have adults ever tried to help you in a way that wasn’t helpful? Has their help ever turned out to be good eventually even though it wasn’t enjoyable at the time?
Overall Grade: B
Once again, a fine movie for young children based on a book brought to the screen by Walden Media.

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