Moviegoers will get to choose their flavor of Steven Spielberg cinema this winter, which sees the arrival of his pulpy comic book adaptation, The Adventures of Tintin – and War Horse, a film treatment of author Michael Morpurgo’s acclaimed novel-turned play.

A full-length trailer has been unveiled for War Horse, which is almost the very definition of the term “Oscar bait.” But does the theatrical preview make the film look like a truly stirring and moving period drama that will leave you choked up – or does it come off as the sort of contrived and overly-sentimental artsy project that just makes you roll your eyes instead?

One thing is certain – War Horse will boast some fantastic cinematography – courtesy of multiple Oscar-winner Janusz Kaminski (Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan) – and yet another beautiful soundtrack from composer John Williams. Sadly, though, this newest trailer goes overboard on selling the film as a rousing melodrama and will probably leave a lot of viewers unimpressed… even though, for all we know, the final product could end up leaving those same people in tears.

Here is an official synopsis for the production:

DreamWorks Pictures’ “War Horse,” director Steven Spielberg’s epic adventure, is a tale of loyalty, hope and tenacity set against a sweeping canvas of rural England and Europe during the First World War. “War Horse” begins with the remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and a young man called Albert (Jeremy Irvine), who tames and trains him. When they are forcefully parted, the film follows the extraordinary journey of the horse as he moves through the war, changing and inspiring the lives of all those he meets–British cavalry, German soldiers, and a French farmer and his granddaughter–before the story reaches its emotional climax in the heart of No Man’s Land.

Now check out the full-length War Horse trailer (via iTunes Movie Trailers) below:

War Horse features an overall great cast that includes people like Tom Hiddleston (Thor), Benedict Cumberbatch (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy), Emily Watson (Angela’s Ashes), David Thewlis (The Lady), Peter Mullan (Tyrannosaur), Eddie Marsan (Sherlock Holmes), David Dencik (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), David Kross (The Reader), and Niels Arestrup (A Prophet). So, on the acting side, you can rest assured that Spielberg’s W.W.I drama will deliver.

There’s also the incredible visuals and camerawork in this War Horse trailer footage – like the tracking shot of Joey galloping across the battle-torn trenches at night – as well as the sample from William’s lovely musical accompaniment to consider. Combine those factors and there should be no doubt: as far as technical proficiency goes, War Horse already looks like a masterpiece.

However, if there’s one criticism that has daunted Spielberg throughout his career, it’s that he tends to be a bit heavy-handed when it comes to sentimentality and emotional atmosphere in his films. Sadly, it seems like there’s reason to be concerned that War Horse will suffer from just that.

Albert (Jeremy Irvine) and Joey in 'War Horse'

On the other hand – sometimes, when a story is exceptionally well-told, it’s easier to tolerate plot contrivances or forgive it for being a bit emotionally-manipulative at times. So perhaps War Horse will ultimately prove to be such an example. We shall see…

War Horse gallops into U.S. theaters on December 25th, 2011.

Source: iTunes Movie Trailers