“War Horse” got an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture – plus five other nods – but little real love. Box office receipts were respectable, but hardly stratospheric. The film won virtually none of the awards for which it was nominated. The best way to describe the reception given to “War Horse” was one of respectful indifference.
While hardly one of Steven Spielberg’s best films, “War Horse” certainly deserves better than the miserly regard it’s been afforded. It’s a lush family drama, sad but redemptive, the sort of old-fashioned movie-making not seen in great quantities for at least half a century.
The star of the story is Joey, a brilliantly fast and spirited horse from England who becomes the object of affection for a variety of people leading up to and during World War I. At first, he’s the ward of Albert (Jeremy Irvine), a poor farm boy, but then Joey is conscripted into the British cavalry.
As the years roll by and the horrors mount up, Joey’s fortunes change as often as the landscape, from rolling French countryside to the nightmarish labyrinth of trench warfare.
Even though the film lacks anything resembling suspense, it’s still a fantastically emotional ride.