Greetings good friends, I am back to finally review something I've been itching to do for some time. We are finally reviewing... The Water Horse (by Dick King Smith) and it's adaptation The Water Horse: Legend of The Deep (2007).
Published in 1990, the book is set in 1930s Scotland and revolves around young Angus and his family finding an egg that hatches into a mythical creature known as the Water Horse. They wind up keeping the newly-hatched creature for a time, despite the mother wanting to get rid of it, and name him Crusoe, after the legendary sailor Robinson Crusoe. After the creature grows to a considerable size, they set it free in the Loch at the end of the story after it has learned to fend for itself.
The book is beautifully written for it's time and tells a fantastical story about the bond between a family and a magical creature, Dick King Smith's writing is by far just as special as other writers' works. The book will not be forgotten and I happily give it a 9/10. Now, onto the movie, which is quite different from how things unfold in the book.
Starting off sometime in modern-day Scotland, a pair of tourists see the Surgeon's photo in the bar and an old man (played by Brian Cox) offers to tell them the story of how it happened, which is where the movie truly begins.
The story picks up in Scotland in the 1940s during World War II, Angus MacMarrow is living with his mother Anne MacMarrow (played by Alex Etal), his sister Kirstie and a pair of housekeepers and a cook. Angus' father went off to fight in the war and never returned, even with Angus believing that he will return. One day, Angus is digging around on the beach when he finds an egg (even though it was Kirstie who found it in the book) and brings it home where he puts it in his father's toolshed. The egg hatches into a mysterious creature that Angus finds during a stormy night.
The following day, British troops led by Captain Thomas Hamilton (David Morrisay) arrive at the MacMarrow household to set up shop and Angus names the strange creature as Crusoe. The MacMarrows are soon joined by a handyman named Lewis Mobray (played by Ben Chaplin), who starts cleaning out Angus' father's toolshed. Crusoe explores the house and encounters Sgt. Strunk's bulldog Churchill, who chases him and winds up making a mess. Crusoe takes up residence in the bathroom and is discovered by Kirstie, freaking her out until Angus calms her down.
Lewis eventually finds out about Crusoe after coming to fix the bathroom and explains to Angus that the creature is a Water Horse, a creature that wasn't supposed to be real as it was a legend from the Celtic past. He then helps Angus make sure his mother doesn't see it, especially as she doesn't allow Angus to have pets. One night, the soldiers are invited into the house for dinner, only for complications to arise when Crusoe escapes and is chased by Churchill, who winds up ruining the dinner when the chase leads into the dining room. Luckily, nobody sees Crusoe, which still proves to be trouble when Anne tells Lewis to collect Angus and send him to bed.
Lewis finds Crusoe in the fountain after growing several feet, prompting him and Angus to set him free in the Loch. Not long after, a pair of fishermen see Crusoe while fishing. Meanwhile, Captain Hamilton, deeming Lewis to be a bad influence, begins training Angus with his mother's permission to make a soldier out of him. However, Angus runs away after a while to visit the Loch and sees Crusoe, who has grown immensely since Angus last saw him, leading to Crusoe taking him for a ride until they encounter a net and return to the dock. However, Sgt. Strunk sees Crusoe while looking for Angus as Churchill runs towards the Loch just as Crusoe sees the Water Horse again.
Angus returns home and tells Lewis and Kirstie about his adventure with his mother overhearing them laughing and thanks Lewis. Hamilton, from a report by Lr. Wormsley, learns Lewis was in the Royal Navy and was honorably discharged. The fishermen who saw Crusoe discuss what happened at a bar and begin making plans to catch a photo of the creature, while Lewis, who has attended the bar before, overhears them talking (but does nothing until later for some reason).
The following day, Captain Hamilton takes Anne, Angus and Kirstie to the hill to show them the anti-German submarine battery (including a gun he calls Victoria) and declares they'll be firing in the Loch. To simplify things, Angus panics and attempts to stop them, earning the annoyance of his mother, who holds him back. Angus then tells her about The Water Horse and that he could get hurt. Um, Angus, I know you're in a panic, but you're leaving out very important details.
Anne is having none of it and irritably tells Angus enough is enough, stop the nonsense and let the soldiers do the work. Kirstie attempts to convince their mother and Angus rushes in to stop the soliders, earning Captain Hamilton's ire. The captain sends Angus and his family home, telling Anne the boy needs discipline. And I'll tell you now, if Angus had screamed to Hamilton there was a Water Horse in the Loch during his efforts to stop them (and if he had successfully stopped them), he would have been slapped by his mother and gotten a lashing, he would've also been yelled at too. Heck, Hamilton would be even more angry and, maybe, Angus would've put Crusoe in more danger for telling the soldiers, especially since Sgt. Walker (who hunted a deer at one point) would be interested in hunting the creature.
Regardless, the soldiers fire the gun in the Loch and Crusoe narrowly avoids the artillery fire. The fishermen, irked by what happened, set up a replica of Crusoe and photograph it, declaring "we'll be rich". Poor Angus is sent to bed at six every night for a month as a consequence for his actions on the hill, not even Kirstie is able to convince Anne the truth. One evening after the events on the hill, the photo of "Crusoe" in the paper attracts Sgt. Strunk's attention and tells Wormsley and Walker about the creature, which sparks Walker's interest in hunting the beast.
Kirstie lets Angus out of his room and he heads down to the Loch with Lewis, who wants Angus to get Crusoe to safety. Angus calls out to his friend, who doesn't initially appear. However, when he does, Crusoe attacks Angus, already shell-shocked by the bombardment. Yup, Crusoe kinda thinks Angus attacked him. Angus reminds Lewis that he told him to put Crusoe in the wild and Lewis remarks he didn't know they'd shoot at him.
Meanwhile, Strunk, Wormsley and Walker hunt for Crusoe, who attacks Churchill and then attacks the boat. During the attack, Wormsley radios the house that they're under attack. Crusoe upturns the boat and Hamilton soon receives the report just as he's talking with Anne to apologize for his actions, Hamilton thinks the Germans are attacking and tells Anne to get his children into the cellar, only for Kirstie to tell her mother that Angus has gone down to the Loch.
Down at the Loch, Crusoe attacks Strunk and Angus attempts to get Crusoe to calm down while Walker tries to shoot the creature, only for Lewis to interfere and the gun to do nothing. Angus slips and loses consciousness, which gets Crusoe to save his friend. Angus dreams about his father, Charlie, telling him to look after the house while he's away. Angus regains consciousness just as his mother and Hamilton arrive, Angus tells his mother he was only trying to save Crusoe and Lewis is about to explain, only for Anne to overhear Strunk telling Hamilton about "the monster" and Hamilton questioning what he's talking about.
Cue Anne ranting about everybody going mad and that there's no monster, even accusing Lewis of filling Angus' head with "tales of sea creatures and magic". Darn it, Anne! Luckily, she notices Crusoe and believes Angus, who tells her the brief rundown that he "raised him, right out of an egg". Okay, Anne, now that you believe Angus, maybe you can redeem yourself by, I dunno, helping your son protect Crusoe!
The millitary starts bombarding the Loch and Angus hops on Crusoe, riding him through the chaos. Anne, Lewis, Kirstie and Hamilton figure out that Angus is trying to get Crusoe out to sea and Hamilton attempts to contact the artillery unit, only for the weather to cause complications, prompting the group to take a boat. The unit soon spots Crusoe and, due to the rain, mistake him for a German sub, opening fire on him. The net is soon raised and Angus parts ways with Crusoe, heading to the boat where his family and Hamilton are.
Crusoe makes a charge towards the net just as one of the soldiers gets a closer look at the creature, right before the Water Horse jumps the net and, due to how big he is, winds up crushing it, which then sets off a chain reaction that decimates the artillery guns. At sunrise, as he sits on the shore, Angus accepts his father is gone before he and his family watch Crusoe head out to sea. In postwar Scotland, the old man finishes the story saying that the creature came back to look for Angus, who never saw him again, while some people claim to have seen it over the years.
The tourists thank the old man, who is then revealed to be Angus MacMarrow himself, what a twist, eh? As the tourists leave, a mother calls out to her son William, who is on the beach and finds an egg akin to the one Crusoe hatched from, indicating that Crusoe has died. Many years earlier, Lewis told Angus there could be only one Water Horse and, when one grows old, it leaves a single egg and dies, meaning the new Water Horse is born an orphan. Crusoe's egg begins to hatch and the film ends.
What can I say about this film? It was quite good. I don't plan on watching it again, but I will say it wasn't too bad. Even with all the creatives liberties it took with the story, changing the timeframe of when it takes place, and some potentially questionable choices, the film was well-received when it came out.
In the years after I first saw it, my opinion has been mixed, especially considering that whole bit of the film with the guns and Anne refusing to believe Angus. I saw this back in 2010 while mother and I were reading the original book and looking back on it, I'll say it did alright and I can forgive the movie's flaws that I didn't think much of. David Russel and his crew handled it well. The Water Horse: Legend of The Deep was an extraordinary adaptation and I suggest that you go watch it if you want to, the film had such well-executed drama, decent pacing, good acting and special effects and is worthwhile.
Water Horse, I am sorry for judging you. And I can forgive your characters, especially Anne MacMarrow. Thank you, everyone. 9.5/10. See you next time, people.