The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep

Rated 3.0

During World War II, a Scottish boy (Alex Etel) finds a strange stone on the beach that hatches a fast-growing sea creature, which he tends with the help of a local handyman (Ben Chaplin). Written by Robert Nelson Jacobs (from Dick King-Smith’s book) and directed by Jay Russell, the film is a bizarre blend of borrowings from a mixed bag of movies—Hope and Glory, E.T., and 20 Million Miles to Earth, to name only a few—but somehow it all works, thanks to Etel and Chaplin’s earnest charm and some first-rate special effects. Director Russell slightly muffs a slapstick dog-and-creature chase in the middle, and the pacing flags a bit in the protracted climax, but it’s fun overall. As Etel’s caring-but-clueless mother, Emily Watson is given little to do but knit her brow and look harried from time to time.