DVD review: 'War Horse' a sturdy ride

Published April 2, 2012 11:28 am

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Grade • B+

DVD • Steven Spielberg's skills as a craftsman, to create luminous images and craft a moving story, get a workout in "War Horse."

This epic, adapted from Michael Morpurgo's children's novel by Lee Hall ("Billy Elliot") and Richard Curtis ("Love, Actually"), follows Joey, a thoroughbred horse bought at auction by an English tenant farmer (Peter Mullan) and trained on the plow by the farmer's teen son, Albert (Jeremy Irvine).

Then the First World War breaks out, and Joey is commandeered for the Army. It's the first of many harrowing stops for Joey, and it's through his eyes we see the horrors of combat.

We also re-encounter Albert, who takes drastic steps to be reunited with his horse. Spielberg and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski capture indelible images of peaceful farms and violent combat, in service to a simple but heart-tugging tale of survival and loyalty. (Spielberg doesn't do commentary tracks, but he does appear in a behind-the-scenes featurette.)

— Sean P. Means