Steven Spielberg is returning with a one-two punch this holiday season. First we'll get the legendary filmmaker in fantastical adventure mode, with the arrival of his Adventures of Tintin adaptation. Then, just five days later, audiences will be treated to Spielberg's latest dramatic piece, War Horse.
A new teaser trailer for War Horse does an excellent job of teasing the film's picturesque imagery of war-torn Europe, as devised by Spielberg's multiple Oscar-winning director of photography, Janusz Kaminski (Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan). But does it also make the movie look too much like Oscar bait for its own good?
War Horse is based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo (and the stage play adaptation by Nick Stafford) about a young man named Albert (Jeremy Irvine) and his beloved pet horse, Joey. The films follows Joey as he is separated from his owner - and subsequently changes the lives of all he encounters during the first World War.
DreamWorks describes War Horse as "an odyssey of joy and sorrow, passionate friendship and high adventure." If nothing else, it'll certainly be a visually gorgeous drama, as brought to life by another moving score composed by John Williams.
Check out the War Horse teaser trailer below:
This motion picture certainly features more than its fair share of admirable actors and actresses, including Emily Watson (Breaking the Waves), Benedict Cumberbatch (Atonement), Tom Hiddleston (Thor), David Thewlis (the Harry Potter series), Eddie Marsan (Sherlock Holmes), David Kross (The Reader), and Niels Arestrup (A Prophet), among others. Much like next year's already-an-Oscar-contender, Spielberg's Lincoln biopic, War Horse certainly won't be lacking in the acting department.
As mentioned before, the film should look and sound as lovely as one would expect from a Spielberg-directed period drama. The question about the quality of War Horse as an "awards contender" has to do with its (cheesy?) storyline and the writing team of Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral) and Lee Hall (Billy Elliot), who were responsible for scripting the movie.
Spielberg has yet to release a serious period drama that the majority of moviegoers agree is bad, and War Horse doesn't look to buck that trend. However, some of his films (see: The Color Purple, Amistad) suffer a bit from having too many of those hokey "Oscar" moments that people often make fun of. As it were, both Curtis and Hall's previous work has tended to have that too - specifically, those "inspirational" or "moving" scenes that come more as calculated than genuine (think the "Oscar Clip" gag in Wayne's World).
Of course, it's too early to tell if War Horse will have a lot of that - and seeing how much the film does have to offer, a few corny moments here and there probably won't matter that much anyway. In short: This is definitely a movie to keep an eye out for at the end of this year.
War Horse arrives in U.S. theaters on December 28th, 2011.