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Spirit Untamed Blu-ray Review

“Spirit Untamed” moves fast, but lacks depth.

Based on the Netflix series “Spirit Riding Free” which is part of the Spirit franchise that was started 19 years ago with “Spirit: Stallion Of The Cimarron” (did you get all that?), “Spirit Untamed” is a new Dreamworks CGI animated feature film that revolves around a young girl (Lucky/Fortuna) who visits her father Jim in the western town Miradero. Upon arrival, Lucky becomes fascinated by wild horses (particularly a wild mustang), but her father forbids her from being around horses as his wife/Lucky’s mother died in a horse accident. Alas, the rebellious Lucky can’t seem to stop from following in her footsteps and befriends the wild mustang (the titular Spirit). When Lucky learns that a group of wranglers led by the wanted Hickson are rounding up wild horses, she embarks on an adventure alongside her new friends Pru (acowgirl) and the ukulele playing Abigail to rescue the horses.

In this day and age ‘Spirit’ seems an unlikely franchise, but at nearly 20 years old, it continues on. With this latest installment “Spirit Untamed,” directors Elaine Bogan and Ennio Torresan crafted a perfectly watchable animated adventure film (complete with some tossed in music numbers), but there’s not a lot going on here that we haven’t seen before. The script by Kristin Hahn and Aury Wallington contains a pretty basic adventure story about friendship, family, finding your place, and freedom. While I appreciated the western setting as there aren’t nearly enough westerns nowadays, you’re left wanting more than what’s on the screen. You can see every beat coming a mile away and the story itself feels derivative. How many stories of someone bonding with a horse can we possibly see? On top of that, the frantic pace is rather exhausting. Yes, it ensures the viewer is always locked in since the movie is constantly on the go, but the story or characters never have time to breathe since the pacing never slows down. 

On the animation side, this is not one of the better looking CGI animated films I have seen. In fact, it looks pretty cheap (which isn’t surprising given the low budget). The character models are simplistic and the environments are often minimalistic and bare. Sure, it’s a step above a lot of animated TV productions, but a theatrical feature should look better than this.

“Spirit Untamed” did round up (pun intended) a rather impressive voice cast with Walton Goggins (Hendricks), Mckenna Grace (Abigail), Julianne Moore (Cora), Jake Gyllenhaal (Jim), Marsai Martin (Pru), Andre Braugher (Al) and Eliza Gonzalez (Milagro). The real standout here though is rising star Isabela Merced as Lucky. She brings the right amount of spirit to the character. Ok, that was a pun too far

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 2.39:1 1080p. How does it look? The hi-def transfer is appealing but boy does it show the shortcomings of the animation.

Audio Track: 7.1 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? A pleasantly loud and lively 7.1 track.


Extras:
* DVD copy
* Digital copy
* Commentary by directors Elaine Bogan and Ennio Torresan and producer Karen Foster.
* Sing-alongs for “Home On The Range,” “Fearless” (English Version and Valiente Duet) and “You Belong.”
* 5 how to segments on hand shadows, s’mores, ukulele, indoor vampire and zoetrope.
* “Drawing Spirit”- A look at how to draw the characters Lucky, Spirit, Pru, Chica Linda, Abigail and Boomerang.
* 2 deleted scenes and 1 extended scene with intros.
* “Behind The Voices- The Cast” featurette.
* “Cowgirls Rule”- A featurette on the dynamic between Pru, Lucky, and Abigail.
* “Finding Your Spirit”- A featurette on the film, story and characters that contains cast and crew interviews.

August 26, 2021 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , , ,

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