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.