A wild mustang is captured by the US Cavalry, escapes with a Lakota brave named Little Creek (who calls him Spirit Who Could Not Be Broken) and has an action-packed odyssey on the way back to his herd.
The horses don’t talk (or sing) but they certainly neigh, whinny, snicker and mug a lot in DreamWorks’ politically correct, environmentally righteous, anthropomorphic, animated adventure-drama.
The film mixes traditional 2D drawing with 3D computer-generated elements and state-of-the-art digital technology in Cinemascope to really wonderful effect.
While this doesn’t have the blockbuster hilarity of Shrek or the wildly imaginative flights of the Pixar films, it does have romanticism and a degree of realism going for it.
The production design and art direction are exquisite, with backgrounds in the style of paintings by Old West masters like Frederick Remington and incorporating landmarks of classic Western films, from John Ford country (Monument Valley) to Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Bryce Canyon.
The opening sequence — a seamless pan through the Grand Canyon, up the Colorado River and out to the plains on the wings of an eagle — is just breathtaking. And the drawing of the horses is impressive, the best-ever anatomical and behavioural animation of the quadrupeds — although they are bigger hams than Robin Williams in the wiggling brow and rolling eyes department.
The equine hero’s journey is as hectic as Little Big Man’s, and salutes many a live action picture. He experiences captivity with insensitive Bluecoats; sanctuary with caring Indians who are in harmony with nature; chases; a fight with a cougar; a massacre; a phenomenal river rapids sequence; and a railroad catastrophe that rivals The Fugitive with the gee-gee leaping free of a fireball explosion by centimetres, like a $20-million action man. He is effectively the Jackie Chan of horses, performing awesome stunts, vaults and courageous rescues that are preposterous, but certainly get your inner five year-old cheering.
Gorgeous and exciting but overcooked with corny narration and a barrage of Bryan Adams songs.