Spirit Untamed (G) - 88 minutes
A charming and colourful animation, DreamWorks’ Spirit Untamed is about a feisty 13-year-old girl and an equally uppity wild horse.
The youngster is Lucky Prescott (the voice of Isabela Merced), who is being brought up by her aunt Cora (Julianne Moore), in a prim and proper household, governed by her uptight grandfather.
Lucky is quite a handful and trouble appears to follow her around.
That is because, according to Lucky, she is never allowed to have fun and she yearns to break free.
The final straw comes when she causes mayhem for her grandad at his campaign launch to become governor.
So, Lucky’s aunt hops a train with her to visit Lucky’s father, Jim (Jake Gyllenhaal), in a wilderness town known as Miradero.
Jim – a station master – last saw her when Lucky was a baby.
His wife (her mother) – a champion show rider – died after being thrown from a horse.
Thereafter, he thought it best that his daughter should have a stable (no pun intended) upbringing, hence giving her up to be reared by her aunt and grandfather.
While delighted to see Lucky, who is the spitting image of her mother, Jim’s non-negotiable rule is that she stays away from horses.
But Lucky’s head was turned on the trip to Miradero, during which a fawn stallion (herd in tow) kept pace with the train.
That very horse has now been captured by a shady wrangler, Hendricks (Walton Goggins), who employs cruel tactics in an endeavour to break him in.
Lucky is horrified and after befriending a couple of local girls – Pru Granger (Marsai Martin) and Abigail Stone (McKenna Grace) – forms a tight bond with the horse, which she names Spirit.
At the same time, Lucky is in a race against time to stop the herd of wild horses from being shipped away permanently by Hendricks and his henchmen.
And that will involve adventure and a great deal of danger.
Spirit Untamed has the usual ingredients of successful animation – an emotion-charged storyline, a diverse range of characters, good humour, lots of colour and movement, and an up-tempo score.
It has been well packaged and should have greatest appeal to young girls.
But that is not to say others can’t enjoy it too, for it is a lovely family film, which is easy to watch and appreciate.
Lucky is a great character to build a story around because her DNA means she will overstep boundaries regularly.
She is also caring and the juxtaposition with the “baddies” is easily drawn.
Her big almond shaped eyes with green pupils are a drawcard.
We might not see much of him, but Abigail’s younger brother Snips (Lucian Perez), who is forever scheming, is another character with pluck to whom I was drawn, along with his baby donkey.
There’s a lot of warmth and wonderment about Spirit Untamed, directed by Elaine Bogan and Ennio Torresan, which hits the mark nicely.
Rated G, it scores a 7 out of 10.