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Spielberg is low on horsepower

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TO WAR HORSE1

"WAR HORSE"..562_3ab_09_16610..Topthorn (left) and Joey race at top speed as Major Stewart (Benedict Cumberbatch, left) and Captain Nicholls (Tom Hiddleston) compete in a practice charge in DreamWorks Pictures' "War Horse", director Steven Spielberg's epic adventure set against a sweeping canvas of rural England and Europe during the First World War...�DreamWorks II Distribution Co., LLC. �All Rights Reserved.

WAR HORSE

DIRECTOR: Steve Spielberg

CAST: Jeremy Irvine, Emily Blunt, Peter Mullan

CLASSIFICATION: 13M V

RUNNING TIME: 146 minutes

RATING: **

War Horse, the stage production, is a marvel to behold and has rightly taken the West End and Broadway by storm.

The same cannot be said of Steven Spielberg’s attempt to bring Michael Morpugo’s book to life on screen. It labours along under the misconception that piling on the emotion is going to simply sweep you along into tears instead of boring you into insensibility.

Spielberg has based his film on the stage production instead of going back to the book and using that as a springboard. He lifts scenes and dialogue straight |from the stageplay, but what is a compelling narrative on stage becomes overblown on film.

It is so disappointing that the director of such marvels as the haunting Schindler’s List and the magical ET could be so manipulative and heavy-handed.

The story stays completely the same – with young Albert (Irvine) raising Joey the horse, which is sent off to the front at |the beginning of World War I.

We see the horrors of war and the pointless way the British kept on throwing horses into the fray, despite the rules of engagement changing to encompass technology over horse-led cavalry.

The horse is probably the one actor displaying the most humanity because the rest are simply going through the motions of acting. The sheer unbridled joy it displays when simply running through a green field is infectious, and totally pulled down by all |the actors over-acting their way through the war.

Shot in lush golds and surprisingly overlit, this film’s feel is so far beyond old-fashioned that you expect someone to come trotting over the hill, lean down conspiratorially and whisper that all it took was “a glass-and-a-half of milk”.

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