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Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron /

Rated: G

Starring: James Cromwell, Matt Damon, Daniel Studi 

Directed by: Kelly Asbury, Lorna Cook 

Produced by: Jeffrey Katzenberg, Mireille Soria 

Written by: John Fusco 

Distributor: Dreamworks

 

Movie Image

Movie Image

Movie Image

     Though advanced in graphic design, Spirit Stallion of the Cimarron uses traditional, two-dimensional animation, which isnít used as frequently as it used to be. The backdrops are quite advanced, and have a nice look to them, but the rest of the film appears to be old-fashioned. This isnít bad, just unusual that such a big studio wouldnít take advantage of modern techniques. Spirit might not be the best animated feature that has come out this year, but itís a gorgeous looking film for horse lovers of any age, and children of all sorts.

     The plot is basically about a wild western horse, that is taken captive by many people, though he wishes to be free. When it is captured by an organization of horse tamers, who take in wild horses and train them, it tries to take revenge on them. As they try to train it, they are continuously bucked off of its back, and stomped on by its sharp, wild hooves. After the horse escapes from these people, a Navajo man takes it in. He treats it a bit better, but not much. The Navajo man allows it to socialize with another horse, and the two fall in love.

     The narration, by Matt Damon, is similar to that of Sean Penn in Dogtown and Z-Boys. It is very straight-forward, and in a strong tone. This fits Dogtown and Z-Boys much better than Spirit, because animated films need a little more energy than documentaries. Damon has his moments, but is also repulsive at times. This does not mean he is bad at it, but rather unsuited for the genre. This doesnít make a huge impact on the film, since it takes up such a small portion, but does affect it.

     One thing that I admired in the animation is that they didnít need to make the horses talk. We see the interaction, and know what each of the animals is thinking without voice. This is made possible by the detailed looking drawings and well written narrative dialogue. This is one of the things that made Disneyís Dinosaur go wrong. Itís okay for dinosaurs to talk when itís in Land Before Time, but in a realistic feature, its simply unnecessary and unrealistic. I guess I can make the same comparison between Spirit and My Little Ponies.

     The variance between the choices in backgrounds and the choices in foregrounds can be called ironic. There are beautiful, realistic looking backdrops that are colorful and visually stunning, but the horses and humans look textbook. They are interesting, and are exactly what the film promises, but donít go the extra mile. The structural formulas are technically correct, but arenít what you would call ďrealĒ looking. For example: horses donít have whites in their eyes, but in Spirit they do. This might be used to show more emotional activity in these creatures, but it looks sloppy and inaccurate to anyone with knowledge of these animals.

     Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron is a fairly entertaining experience, that is worth a viewing, but not a praising. The animation isnít pure and exact in its appearance, but makes a worthwhile attempt. Matt Damonís narration isnít the best in the world, but weighs in above average. The backdrops are beautiful to look at, and are one of the flicks many qualities. Bottom line: for a nice movie about horses and the old west that will make you feel good; Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron is a winner.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews


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