Despite its Oscar nomination for best picture, Steven Spielberg's War Horse was another of those films that didn't get a lot of love — modest praise from critics, modest box office (about $80 million).
But I found it a worthy family picture, and there are so few these days. It's an epic tale told with old-fashioned panache and done with explosions, stuntmen and a real cast.
Jeremy Irvine plays Albert, an Irish lad who raises a horse named Joey, forming one of those unbreakable bonds between the animal and the teen. There are a number of lovely pastoral scenes before Albert's father, in need of money, sells the horse to a British cavalry officer (Tom Hiddleston) at the start of World War I.
As we well know, the cavalry quickly became obsolete with mechanized warfare. The story then follows Joey on his odyssey through the brutal conflict, one where Albert grows old enough to fight at the front.
Handsomely produced with a wonderful cast, it is ultimately moving. The violence is muted, keeping it within a PG-13 rating.
It's not one of Spielberg's great works, but he is such a fine filmmaker that he almost doesn't get his due for making a very good movie.
War Horse retails for $29.99 or $39.99 Blu-ray.