Spirit Untamed Review

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

PLOT: A young girl named Lucky discovers a wild horse while visiting her father on a trip. Soon, she finds that she must fight back in any way she can against a group of men intent on hurting Spirit and the other wild animals they capture.

REVIEW: Something is appealing about the idea of taming a wild stallion. Can you imagine gaining the trust of such a majestic animal? Well, the creators of the Spirit series certainly understand this very feeling. And now, the wild horse is back in a brand new, big-screen adventure. The animated fable is co-directed by Elaine Bogan and Ennio Torresan and written by Kristin Hahn, Katherine Nolfi, and Aury Wallington. If those names aren't too familiar to you, the cast will be. The impressive list of actors involved includes Isabel Merced, Jake Gyllenhaal, Marsai Martin, McKenna Grace, Julianne Moore, Walton Goggins, Eiza Gonzalez, and Andre Braugher, quite a collection of talent we have here. So is this animal bonding flick a good time? Well, its heart is at least in the right place.

Lucky Prescott (Merced) is a young girl traveling across the country to spend time with her workaholic father Jim (Gyllenhaal). From the very beginning, we see a wild streak in Lucky, one that her loving Aunt Cora (Moore) is all too aware of. When a wild stallion is captured by locals in the area, the one person that seems to connect to the animal is Lucky. Things take a turn for the worse however when all the wild horses are collected to be used at the discretion of a bunch of bad guys – and we all know that if Walton Goggins is in this, that can't be good, because nobody plays villains better. This leads Lucky, along with a couple of newfound friends named Pru Granger (Martin) and Abigail Stone (Grace) to take off on a wild adventure to free the horses from their captors. Well, maybe "wild adventure" is a bit of a stretch.

Spirit Untamed, Isabela Merced, Jake Gyllenhaal, Julianne Moore, animated, horse, family, JoBlo.comSpirit Untamed has a lot going for it. The character of Lucky – while at times slightly annoying – has a lot of heart and her genuine love of Spirit is sweet. It helps that Isabela Merced is a really solid choice for the lead character. As well, the likes of Julianne Moore, Jake Gyllenhaal, Walton Goggins, and Andre Braugher bring a sense of class to this sentimental flick. The talent, in general, all shine with the words they are given. And while the script itself isn't necessarily great, it manages to offer a couple of moments that tug on the heartstrings. Even the message of loving something wild, and accepting who they are is a nice one, it's just a shame that the pacing and how the story evolves is so awkward and the sweetness is oftentimes much too groan-inducing to truly be inspiring.

Perhaps the structure of this story was meant to focus on a girl and her horse, rather than the big and scary adventure she goes on. This includes her and her pals crossing a massive mountain on horseback, hoping to beat a train that is carrying the wild horses. It's an epic journey that Lucky and her pals are taking, and it's also one that is exceptionally quick and unbelievable. It's almost as though the struggle to get across the mountain is as stressful for the screenwriters as it was for the characters involved. The perilous journey the girls are on only takes up a small amount of screentime, and the convenient final plot twist is predictable, but even that happens so fast that you almost forget there was any actual danger in the entire film.

Spirit Untamed, Isabela Merced, Jake Gyllenhaal, Julianne Moore, animated, adventure, family, JoBlo.com, DreamworksThis is not a film that will appeal to older teens or adults. Not at all. This is not made for them. But the lack of real thrills may not matter for the intended viewer. After all, it's a safe bet that children that love this will fall head over heels for the horse and the relationship with Lucky. The action aspect won't matter nearly as much to them. And there are certainly moments where you can appreciate the charm of how much Lucky wants to help Spirit and all the other horses. Even still, the magic of that will likely be lost on many of the adults taking the family to see this feature. It's a flawed and overly sappy feature that is ultimately forgettable, but that will be lost on many who just want something pretty and cute to look at.

Spirit Untamed is a children's film through and through. Its appeal will likely be lost on parents or older siblings, but for those young fans who squeal in delight when they see a horse, they will likely be overjoyed. So in a sense, the film sort of succeeds in that aspect. The animation is fine, and while the more adventurous side is way too short and not all that adventurous, its focus on Lucky and Spirit will be the key. Is this something I'd recommend? Well, if you don't mind a goofy flick, and you have a horse-appreciating family, absolutely I would. But to anyone else, it's far too overly cute and unmemorable to recommend. Even with a solid cast, and its heart in the right place, Spirit Untamed is merely a serviceable animated flick for the very young.

Spirit Untamed

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Source: JoBlo.com

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JimmyO is one of JoBlo.com’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.