The Horse Soldiers (Blu-ray)
Based on the true story of Col. Benjamin H. Grierson, a Calvary team goes behind enemy lines to take out the supply center for their railroad. Adding to the tension between the Colonel and the new doctor, further complications arise when a southern lady overhears the regiment’s plans and is forced to come along as well to ensure their mission’s secret.
Okay, I’m a little confused here. Was John Wayne supposed to be a good actor because I’m just not seeing it. I’ll admit that I don’t really know much about him performance wise, I mean everyone knows the name and I’ve seen enough of him to “get” jokes made at his expense, most notably the FAMILY GUY bit where Peter is obsessed with the a joke about John Wayne at the first Thanksgiving. The entire movie I just kept hoping John Wayne would say, “I’m John Wayne pilgrims” or any sentence at all that ended with “pilgrims”. I would have laughed myself into stitches, but alas, this was by no means a comedy and the only thing that made me happy was seeing the credits roll.
I’ve made no attempt to hide my distaste for old films, and by old I mean anything that came out in the fifties or sixties. I was born in the last seventies, so I don’t tend to venture much earlier than that. Of course that would seem totally bias to just present my reasoning as such so I’ll elaborate. The characters here are goofy beyond rhyme or reason, the dialogue is atrocious and in some instances make no grammatical sense whatsoever. These things can be overlooked of course if the tone is set to comical, but this is a war film (or sorts) and meant to be taken (remotely) seriously so having the tone come off like a Beetle Bailey cartoon strip is probably not what they had in mind…at least I hope not.
The action is no better, I mean I’ve never seen a larger group of soldiers be so happy about bringing swords to a gunfight, I know I sure wouldn’t be happy about it. And I didn’t get the initial hatred Col. Marlowe had towards taking the Doc along with him. Who wouldn’t want to have a physician on hand in a time of war? His answer to wounded soldiers was leave em’ if they can’t keep up. So much for leave no man behind. And speaking of ridiculous, the whole love interest situation between the Colonel and Miss Hanna was pretty sad. Dude’s old enough to be your grandfather baby, that’s all kinds of terrible.
THE HORSE SOLDIERS was two of the longest hours of my life, and trust me I’ve put in some long, tedious hours of work in my day. I know this flick is no doubt favoured by a good many people, hell even one of my buddies (who loves historical dramas) eyed it on my desk and expressed how much he’d loved it, but this type of film just isn’t for me no matter how objective I try to be. I also love how everyone jumped all over Michael Bay for re-working (I wouldn’t really call it re-using) that chase scene in TRANSFORMERS DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, when this film blatantly re-uses the exact same footage two or three times during one of its (ahem) action sequences. I’m sure they needed to cut corners back in those days and God knows I’ve seen in before in older action flicks but it still feels pretty weak, which doesn’t exactly add to this film’s sour taste as is. Sorry to all the Wayne lovers out there, but I just wasn’t feeling this film or his performance.
Video: 1.66:1 Widescreen in 1080p HD with AVC codec. No matter how you slice it, this baby looks its age and takes some getting used to if you don’t watch many old flicks.
Audio: Mono DTS-HD in English, French and Spanish with the same subtitle options. Don’t get me started on the score, the rallying songs they play as the men march sound like the dwarven songs from SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS.
Previews: There’s a theatrical trailer for the film…and that’s it.