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This live action family adventure is beautiful to look at, but...

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A cheetah cub, separated from its pack, is adopted by the son of a farmer in South Africa.

The cheetah's the star in this live-action family adventure from Carroll Ballard, the director of The Black Stallion. Cub Duma is adopted by a young farmer's son, Xan (Alexander Michaeletos), when he's separated from the pack in the wilds of South Africa. As Xan's father becomes terminally ill, parallels develop and the boy must learn to let both father and cheetah go.

Visually, this is beautiful: the scorching desert, the stunning wildlife photography, the adorable big cats... But despite support from Campbell Scott and Hope Davis, Michaeletos fails to convince. And with stilted dialogue and poorly timed drama, this fails to pack an emotional punch, resorting to trite narration to tell us how we should be feeling, as opposed to how we are: slightly cheetah'd.

The cinematography is nothing short of gorgeous, but it's something of a wasted effort when weighed down by stilted dialogue, trite narration and poor directorial timing. The big cats are nice, though.

Reviewed by Anna Smith

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