Steven Spielberg's interest in the sentimental is well documented. The man could buy the rights to a trigonometry text book and find a way to wring a tear from its pages on the silver screen.
Still, you would think that even he, upon seeing a production whose sole serious artistic merit was the extraordinary virtuosity of its puppetry, would think twice about directing an adaptation which leaves out exactly that. The whole point of War Horse is the puppetry, and the way the play's horses are invested with a near-human emotional range by their operators; replace them with a glassy-eyed real-life Dobbin and the effect surely can't be reproduced.
If Spielberg can secure millions of dollars for such a strange creative decision, it is time for Hollywood to rein him in. If not, there is no telling what he'll do next. We should brace for his radical reimagining of The Muppets. One wonders how he will keep the pig from eating the frog on set.