Worth A Look: 36.92%
Pretty Bad: 9.23%
Total Crap: 18.46%
4 reviews, 41 user ratings
|Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
This is a brilliant animated story about a horse in the Old West who wonít quit and the Native American who lives him.The animation in this film is breathtaking. From the opening scene where the eagle takes us on a tour of the American West to the beautiful animation in the final shot, you know you are seeing something special.
"This is an inspiring movie to watch."
The combination of 2D and 3D was beautiful to watch. (Especially the 180 degree shot at the end of the movie.) The water scenes were also beautifully done, and, for the most part, extremely realistic.
The drawings of the horses were excellent. They were somewhat anthropomorphic (the horses had eyebrows), but this didnít bother me as the animators were able to get a wealth of meaning into the horseís expressions. This made the animalsí thoughts easy to understand, even though they didnít talk. (Thank goodness they didnít. Who wants to see a whole bunch of Mr. Eds in an animated feature?)
One particular bit of character animation which really impressed me was the trouble taken to age the eyes of Spiritís mother.
The animation looked fantastic due to the wonderful backgrounds. They look like famous paintings of western landscapes rendered by well-known western artists of the early 20th century.
This film was not heavy on character development, but there were three characters who did change. Spirit fought back admirably in the beginning, but hit a low point on the train. He then had a vision and his fighting determination came back.
The officer in pursuit of Spirit came to respect Spirit for that animalís determination Ė this was evident when the officer stopped the soldier from shooting Spirit.
The Native American came to respect Spiritís wild nature and let the horse (and the mare Spirit had fallen in love with) return to the wild. Letting the mare go as well showed the Native Americanís magnanimous nature, a characteristic of his personality which was not as strong in the beginning of the story as it was in the end.
There were some mistakes in the plot that pulled me out of the movie.
The first one was the horse handling. After the men roped Spirit and he finished struggling, they were able to lead him away to the fort. However, horses need to be trained to lead. If you put a rope on an unbroken horse and try to make him follow you without any training, he wonít follow, but will fight against the rope even if it kills him. He will kick and rear and throw himself around going totally crazy.
The second mistake was the partial breaking of Spirit. This was too fast to be realistic.
The third mistake was the Indian trying to ride spirit. The man just threw the blanket on the horse. With almost any unbroken horse, you have to slowly introduce him to the blanket. Touch him with a small bit of the blanket at a time until he gets used to the whole thing. However, I will give the director credit for being accurate in the section where the Native American tried to get Spirit used to a rider. The Indian first put his hands on the horse, then stopped, then leaned on him, then stopped, then put a bit of weight on him, then stopped, then put a bit more weight, then stopped, etc. (Continuing with this method will allow a horse to gradually become accustomed to more and more weight on his back, until the rider is fully mounted. If the director could be correct here, I do not understand why he could not be correct with the other sections of the horse training.)
I think the film needed a horse whisperer for a technical adviser. I feel such a person could have made the horseís and the menís behaviour more realistic without sacrificing the quality of the story.
The fourth mistake was the hauling of the locomotive over the hill. I saw no sign of a braking system for use when the locomotive started down the other side of the hill. It appeared that, if the locomotive had started going down the hill in the direction the men wanted, it would have crushed the horses, and no one would have been able to control its descent.
The fifth mistake that bothered me was the fight with the mountain lion. The lion scratched Spirit, but there was no blood. Ė A bit more realism would not have hurt.
The sixth mistake was the scene where the Native American stroked his mareís wet mane. It looked like he was touching a smooth surface because no individual clumps of hair moved.
Another important note: One should not come away from the film assuming that white men were terrible rough horse breakers and the Indians were gentle. Some Indians used rough methods. For example one man would rope the horse and hold him while another man would get on and ride the horse until the animal stopped bucking.
Regardless of all the problems I found with the move I still loved it. I mean, hey, it is a movie, and artistic license should be allowed.
The soundtrack in the film is excellent, especially when the locomotive came crashing down the hill. On a surround sound system all speakers are used to maximum effect.
The DVD version of this film comes with some excellent extras and a commentary worth watching.Spirit was one of the best animated features Iíve ever seen. It was so good that I became almost totally absorbed in the action, even though the other half of my mind was analysing the film.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5916&reviewer=228
originally posted: 07/29/03 00:25:44