I turns out that all the negative press this film received was written half-a-year BEFORE the film even came out, before anyone even saw it. How the hell can that be? Simple. The critics were gunning for this film, along with others films like John Carter and World War Z. When a few critics decide to destroy a film's rep, everyone jumps on the bandwagon because it sells advertisement. No other reason than that. It has NOTHING whatsoever to do with the film. The film isn't even being seen, much less actually honestly reviewed. Again, it all comes down to blood money. Jeez, what a surprise.
Therefore, every time you see a negative review for some film, especially a big film like this one, BE VERY SUSPICIOUS! Don't believe the first thing you read or see.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK!!! Don't be just another mindless dunce accepting the manure these critics are dishing out. Do research. Go to different websites and compare the reviews. And don't go just to the big, popular reviewers. Find many smaller reviewers. These usually (though not always) tend to behave more honestly. If absolutely every single one of ALL these reviewers says the film is no good, then it probably is. But if you see a dramatic discrepancy between the big, popular reviewers and the small reviewers, then you know something is wrong -- and almost always it means those big reviewers are being dishonest. In fact, they're probably being bought off under the table by those film's competitors. This happens all the time.
SO -- BUYER BEWARE! That's an ancient saying. And it's ancient for a very good reason. Pay attention.
As for this film, I have very little problem with it. The acting on all counts was wonderful. Everyone turned in great performances -- even the kid. And I really don't like kid actors. They're never convincing. But this kid is. So, no problem there.
The visual effects, though obviously digital, hold up quite well. There's only one or two very brief moments where the digital aspect of the FX is obvious. Other than that, everything works just fine.
The story is quite touching. There's nothing shallow or silly about it.. And, of course, Depp's performance is spot on; he hits every note, each moment, perfectly. Any idiotic review you might see claiming his performance is just silly or ridiculous is a blatant lie. I love the Ghost Horse. He's wonderful. Yes, he's a bit fantastic, but that's what he's supposed to be -- and it works.
Everything about this movie works perfectly -- except for one small detail: the running time.
Sorry, but it is just too long. The film tends to have too many slow places. But that's the responsibility of the director to keep the pace up and moving. I know this is difficult to do, but he's made way too many films not to know how to accomplish this properly. So, had this film been cut back from 2 and a half hours to maybe 1 hour 40 minutes or so, it would have worked much better. And if he was so determined to have a long version, he could have offered that as an alternate DVD release, or something along those lines. But the sad fact is that this film definitely drags. It needs to be tightened up. And it needs this very badly.
Still, it's not so slow or "draggy" that you can't sit through the 2 and a half hours at least once. But that's the limit. It doesn't work for multiple viewings. Too bad.
Still, it is a good film and it does not deserve all the bad press it's been unjustly given. I'd give it at least one viewing. And hopefully, in future, the director will see sense and provide a more streamlined version of this film. Regardless, it deserves 4 stars -- easily. And I still recommend it.