“WAR HORSE” My rating: C+ (Opening wide on Christmas Day)
146 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13
Visually rich and dramatically undernourished, “War Horse” is director Steven Spielberg’s attempt at a David Lean-style epic.
It’s big. It’s gorgeous.
And, unfortunately, it is largely uninhabited despite a deep cast of yeoman British thespians.
The source material, Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 book for children, already has become a hit West End and Broadway show. The dominant critical view of the stage version is one of indifferent material elevated by brilliant staging, with breathtaking life-size puppets portraying the equine characters.
The question going into the Spielberg film, then, was whether the yarn would still deliver in a “real” world without that awe-inspiring stagecraft. The answer: Every now and then the movie is magic. But too often it feels overplotted and plodding.
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“THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN: THE SECRET OF THE UNICORN” My rating: B- (Opening wide on Dec. 21)
107 minutes | MPAA rating: PG
Steven Spielberg’s “The Adventures of Tintin” has so many jaw-dropping moments of visual splendor that it takes a while to realize that there’s really nothing much of interest here except the jaw-dropping visual splendor.
Employing the motion-capture animation techniques employed in films like “The Polar Express” and the Jim Carrey “Christmas Carol,” this screen adaptation of the late Herge’s universally popular comic book hero should please long-time fans. But it’s hard to imagine it winning many new converts to the Tintin brand.
Tintin (voiced by Jamie Bell of “Billy Elliott” fame) is a perpetually boyish, carrot-topped newspaper reporter who goes nowhere without a tan trench coat, brown knickers and a white pooch named Snowy.
He’s sort of like a junior Sherlock Holmes who’s always up to his neck in one mystery or another.
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