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Water Horse, The


Stars: Emily Watson, Ben Chaplin, David Morrissey, Alex Etel, Brian Cox

Director: Jay Russell

An absolutely ace family film, packed with thrills and excitement, about the Loch Ness monster. Present-day: an old Scot (Cox) tells two eager American tourists looking at the famous picture of Nessie: 'there's more to that photo than meets the eye.'

The film ingeniously justifies that statement as well as presenting the story of young Angus (Etel), whose privileged home in 1942 Scotland means little when he father is reported missing in action.

On the lakeshore, Angus finds an egg-shaped rock, which peels back to reveal a luminescent blue interior, and eventually hatches out as a dinosaur-like baby. Hiding 'Crusoe' from his mother (Watson), Angus eventually has to let his sister (Priyanka Xi) and their mysterious handyman (Chaplin) in on the secret, as the creature'a rapid growth necessitates progression from oil-drum to bath to garden fountain. Sadly, they decide to release it to the loch, but the military, now camped at the family mansion, are embarking on manoeuvres that threaten its existence.

The animation of the creature is sensationally effective, the boy is a charmer, and other plot threads are seamlessly sewn into the fabric of the picture: the mansion and army cooks form a truce, then a liaison, and Mum is obviosuly going to have to choose between the handyman and the stuffy disciplinarian (Morrissey) in charge of the soldiers.

Kids will love this eventful, immaculately set and beautifully-shot film filled with action but finding time for a believably tender relationship between creature and boy. Absolutely no prizes for guessing the identity of the storyteller played by Cox at the start and finish.

David Quinlan

UK/New Zealand 2007. UK Distributor: Sony (Columbia). Colour by deluxe.
112 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 02 Feb 2008