Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
DreamWorks continues with its rivalry with Disney, by giving us the very Disney-like Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. In fact the opening scene is reminiscent of Disney's Dinosaur, but with an eagle flying across the plains. Unfortunately DreamWorks needs to spend as much time on getting a gripping story as it does on superb animation.
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron focus on an equestrian hero, Spirit, and his life roaming the unspoiled American plains. It starts with the birth of our hero and after a few scenes of childhood frolicking he's the leader of his herd (is that the right term for a group of horses?). His happy days, unfortunately, come to an end as one day he spots some strange visitors. He wanders off to investigate and before he realises what happened he's been lassoed and captured by the 'visitors' who as it transpires are US soldiers.
The soldiers, under the strangely unnamed Colonel (voiced by James Cromwell), try to break Spirit, but Spirit is not a horse that is easily broken. He resists all attempts to be tamed, much to the outrage of the Colonel. Also captured by the soldiers is Little Creek, a Native American Indian. After much torment, Spirit, with the assistance of Little Creek manages to break out of the US camp.
They return back to Little Creek's tribe where he also tried to break Spirit albeit in a much more kinder and gentler way. Another advantage that Little Creek has over the US Cavalry is his coquettish mare, who takes a shine to the new horse on the block. She shows Spirit that life in the Indian village is actually quite good, as they share a symbiotic circle with them. Unfortunately, Spirit, though tempted with the prospects of spending his life with his new friends, is a wild stallion and yearns to run free.
Before Spirit can return to the wild and his herd, the US soldiers attack the Indian village and Spirit takes a stand to protect not only the tribe but to ensure his own freedom and that of his herd.
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron is a very poor effort from a story point of view. It's a case of capture, escape, capture, escape and so on. Although the horses do not speak, Matt Damon narrates for Spirit, but the script is dire and so politically correct it borders on obscene. The script is also very manipulative as it leads through a blatantly sweet emotional journey that lacks any substance whatsoever.
Performance wise is nothing to behold at all. Voice-overs, although seen as an easier job than proper 'acting', are all important to animated films. Toy Story, Aladdin, Shrek and many others have had great voice talents. Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron has got the talent, but without the script it defeats the object completely.
The animation is excellent though, with traditional Cel drawings being blended with CGI animation flawlessly. There are some redeeming features in the film; a runaway train sequence does raise the blood pressure and as mentioned before, the animation is good. Unfortunately these points are totally overshadowed by the weaker parts of the film and these are topped by the awful music.
Songs have been with animated films for a very long time, but Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron stoops to a record low. Crooner Brian Adams gives us some of the direst songs ever, which doesn't help the film at all - I'm sure my ear bleed for a while. Dull songs that all sound the same and a script that kills insomnia dead, doesn't make for an entertaining film.
One the whole, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron might be enjoyed by either very young children or very old adults (both groups who are not in full possession of their faculties!!) and that's about it unfortunately.
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