A Ms Laura Steff at The Huffington Post opines at those of us eye-rollers:
To those who roll their eyes at the movie War Horse being nominated this week for a Best Picture Academy Award, let me say this: The movie is not, as some of those who haven't seen it suggest, just another sentimental story about a boy and his horse. It is not even primarily about a horse in the sense that the original British stage play is.Well, thank God it's not just a shamelessly sentimental and compulsively manipulative story about a boy and horse, but also about cartoons of greedy rich people, --ooooh----powerless poor people ---aaahhh--and the horrors of war ---eeeeeeh. So much less cliched. Not at all like an extended Dickensian version of Lassie, where the brave pup is stolen by bad people and while Timmy and his poor but plucky Mom weep at home, fights through danger and pain to get home by walking 800 miles in the snow.
The cinematic version is much more. It is a story about the greed of the wealthy -- in this case, an English landowner -- and the powerlessness of the poor -- a family that grows turnips on the squire's land. We are reminded that poverty can tear a family apart, in this case pitting father against son and leaving mother to broker the peace.
The movie is also, and primarily, about awful, bloody, World War I ...
But as a Steven Spielberg movie in IMAX format, War Horse assaults us, both our mind and our body.
It conveys as clearly as any movie I've seen the utter horrors of war, the moments of grace that can occur between enemies and the costs to ordinary men and women who only wish to plow their fields and harvest their turnips.
At several moments, the very mildly etched characters make 90 degree turns you never saw coming, just to insure a link to the next heart-rending moment. Anyone ever heard of script continuity?
And of the central equine hero, "Joey" the miracle horse, even my generous friend, who seemed to like the film, said, "He was no Mr. Ed."