Spirit Untamed

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Do not make the same mistake I did and watch Kelly Asbury and Lorna Cook’s timeless tale of a young stallion separated from its herd, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002), before checking in with this shoddy sequel. (If anything, this is closer in spirit to the video games and TV series the original spawned.) It’s a masterpiece of animation for so many reasons, none more impressive than its seamless fusion of 2D and 3D techniques to heighten naturalism. It also holds the distinction of being the world’s first animated feature about a No Talking! No Singing! No Dancing! horse. Fortunately for us, directors Elaine Bogan and Ennio Torresan Jr. stay faithful enough to the original to keep the horses mute. (Who needs Mr. Ed when the star of this show is a Disney-eyed hydrocephalic Q-tip stricken with a rare case of diarrhea of the mouth?) It’s set in the early 1900s, but one wouldn’t know it from the looks of Lucky’s (Isabela Merced) fresh-from-the-Galleria-threads. And what once passed for exceptional “pantomime acting” on the part of the animators now looks like something from the TV division of Dreamworks Animation. The one thing the films share are their presumptuous scores. Bryan Adams’ grumbling rock tunes in the original have as much place in the old west as Amie Doherty’s anachronistic talent-show ballads do here. If you have never seen the 2002 entry, I suggest you watch it twice before taking a pass on this. (2021) — Scott Marks

Rated PG | 1 hour, 27 minutes
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