Captain Kirk’s review published on Letterboxd :
The Story of The Bad Luck Horse
So basically this is a story about a horse and all of the lives that are negatively touched by the horse. ;)
It starts with the main boy's father overpaying for the horse and nearly losing his entire life's savings to keep the horse. Once they bring it home, they are threatened with eviction and being tossed out on the street. Finally, a flood comes and destroys their entire crops, leaving the family ruined. Their only option is to sell the horse, improving their fortunes greatly.
Horse is sold to a really kind British war captain who we grow to like immensely for about 15 minutes before he overconfidently rides the horse into battle and is mowed down by gunfire, ending his life.
The horse comes into the hands of 2 young boys enlisted in the German army. We grow to like these two boys for about 10-15 minutes. The horse (and his newfound horse buddy) give the 2 boys the confidence to desert the German army and escape to a windmill, where they are found a day later by the German officers because of the horses and killed before a firing squad.
The next morning the horses are found by a lovely French girl and her grandfather who claim the war horse (and his horse buddy) as their own and care for them. The movie gives us another 15 minutes or so to really make us like this lovable girl and her sweet old grandfather. As bad luck would have it, the German soldiers now stumble across their little orchard and decide to raid it and take all of their food and valuables and do everything short of rape the girl and burn the house to the ground. They later discover the horses and conscript them to be German work horses.
Meanwhile we see the boy from the beginning of the film who now seems to be doing quite well with his family on their little farm...sans the horse. The moral of the story is becoming all too clear...avoid this horse at all costs.
But lo and behold, we are introduced to a new character in the form of a kind German soldier in charge of the horses. The German officers are evil of course and only want to work the horses until they die. But the kind German soldier (who we grow to like over the course of the next 10 minutes) decides to sneak the horses away for some R&R. Bad idea, nice guy...these horses will be your undoing as we have already learned. Needless to say, they are discovered and the soldier is dragged away by his superiors, presumably to be shot. That'll teach you to befriend the War Horse! And speaking of friends of the War Horse, his buddy the black horse, has the bad luck of being run over by a tank a minute later.
The movie takes a very Disney turn from here when everything appears to start going right for everyone in the film and some very contrived but still mildly touching moments including the horse jumping over the tank that crushed his buddy even though he couldn't jump a 3 foot rail earlier on (come on, it's Disney!) leading up to a reunion between the boy and his horse. Hmm...that may have been a better title for the movie. The sole intention of this movie seems to have been to make the audience cry as much as possible through the entire movie during Oscar season, and it shows. I'm no cold hearted bastard, and get welled up at good tear-jerker if done well, but this one was way too obvious. I like my tears the way I like my scares...as a surprise. This one is like a prize fighter showing you his right fist and then swinging it at you in slow motion so that you can see it the whole time and know that it's coming. They studied the formulas and then followed them to a T. This is the Oprah Winfrey of war movies. It doesn't mean that it is a bad film, because it was still well done and polished. But in the end, it felt more manipulative in its agenda to pull off teary eyed moneyshots than tell the story it set out to tell. Not all bad but could've been way better.