War Horse (2011)
This is probably one of Spielberg's most uneven films, along with 1941 and Hook. Some of the best filmmaking of his career stands firmly alongsides a few of his worst instincts. In tributing old Hollywood masters, especially John Ford, Spielberg has the technical directing skill in mixing the old with the new, but his modern dramatic sensibility clashes loudly when trying for the old-fashioned melodrama. The first half hour plays like something Tropic Thunder has parodied savagely three years prior.
It gets quite better when the war casts a shadow over the earnestness, and the locations change constantly wherever Joey the horse goes. Still, the humans in each brief segment never get memorable, and the horses are filmed so realistically with such intensity and interest that a great film might have been made if we stick closely just to Joey's point of view instead. Also, I don't hate Williams' score here like many do, but I agree that it just. never. stop.
Even then, the film is frequently spectacular in conjuring up expressive, evocative Golden Age Hollywood images: the dissolving of mother's knitting into a field, the calvary charge, windmill 'swipe', Joey through No Man's Land, and on and on. Spielberg is so great at these mythic images that most of the film will lose very little with the sound turned off. Sure, he sometimes misjudges the classic melodrama and turns it into modern mawkishness instead, but Joey's tale always holds interest, and with shots like this and this... well, it makes up a lot for his more questionable indulgence...mostly. 6/10