After six years when he directed just one feature (the commissioned fourth episode of Indiana Jones), Steven Spielberg launches two films within four days; and both reveal the old boy wonder in splendid form. On Dec. 21 comes Spielberg's 3-D motion-capture animated feature The Adventures of Tintin, from Hergé's world-beloved comic books, a kind of Raiders of the Lost Art of boys' adventures and the niftiest pirate movie ever. Then, on Christmas day, the perfect holiday gift: this traditional, live-action adaptation of the Michael Morpurgo novel about an English boy and the horse he loved as the first World War was ravaging Western Europe. War Horse also inspired the every-prize-winning stage production in which Joey and the other equine characters are full-size puppets manipulated by actors inside them. Viewers coming to the movie version might think it's no fair using real horses (seven played Joey), but Spielberg's team wrangled eloquent performances from all of them, and from the human stars Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, Peter Mullan and Tom Hiddleston. In his most painterly film, Spielberg has appropriated the lavish visual palette of John Ford movies: The Quiet Man for the rural settings, The Horse Soldiers for the war scenes. Boldly emotional, nakedly heartfelt, War Horse will leave only the stoniest hearts untouched.
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