At the start of War Horse, Steven Spielberg plunges us into an overlit, twee vision of early 20th-century UK countryside, and we spend much of the rest of this harmless, conventional adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s novel seeking – even aching for – the real world amid the artifice. The main problem is that Spielberg doesn’t solve the conundrum of having an animal at the heart of his film.

For Morpurgo, it was a first-horse narration. For the play, it was scene-stealing puppetry. All Spielberg can do is observe the creature, make the most of its few situations of peril and hope the surrounding drama is distracting enough. Fairytale, quasi-mythical visions of life, even war, are fine, but there’s an alienating push and pull here between the savagery of war and Spielberg’s fear of scaring the horses.

War Horse

Genre: Drama, War
Duration: 146 mintues
Released: Jan 26th
Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Peter Mullan, Niels Arestrup, David Thewlis, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch
Language: English
Classification: PG15
War Horse
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