The Water Horse: Legend Of The Deep is a grand movie in the bardic tradition where to some extent you feel like you are being told a story while watching it unfold before you. The story starts off in a pub where a young vacationing couple are looking at a picture of the Loch Ness monster. They are lured by the promise of a wonderful story to the table of an older gentleman (Brian Cox) who proceeds to tell them the true story of the creature of the Loch.
The story takes place during World War II which offers some dark touches to an uplifting story about truth, loyalty and faith. It takes a brave writer and still braver directors and producers these days to let stand a story in which the elements of the story that are dark are left intact. Angus MacMorrow (Alex Etel) has lost his father but still behaves as if his father is coming home from his tour of duty even count down the days to the end of his tour. He is deathly afraid of swimming (not surprising since his father was a navy man killed at sea) but he is inextricably drawn to the water even envisioning his own demise in the watery depths of the ocean.
What makes The Water Horse such a successful story is that there are no bad guys per se - everyone is actually trying to do what they believe to be the right thing in their own minds. This doesn't make them bad even if their acts are not what we ourselves would do the acts themselves are understandable and defensible. Another area where the story rings true is in the character of the water horse itself. The CGI creation is flawless to the point that you almost believe in the water horse. More importantly though the water horse is a wild animal and behaves like a wild animal. The water horse is a mature creation with an understanding that animals are still animals even if they are sometimes friendly with some humans.
The movie is exceptionally well cast with Emily Watson delivering a subtle, genuine performance as a widow who is doing her best to hold it together with a teen aged daughter and a preteen son. Ben Chaplin delivers a strong presence in the role of Lewis Mowbray. One of the strongest performances is one which is easy to overlook in the form of David Morrissey's Captain Hamilton. It is difficult to play a likable unlikeable character but Morrissey manages it with apparent ease. Another performance which is easy to miss because she has such a small role is that of Priyanka Xi as Kristie MacMorrow who plays without flaw the goody two shoes big sister with a heart of gold.
This is an engaging story from start to finish as young Angus learns to trust, love and ultimately embrace life for what it is rather than for what he would like it to be.