Directors Elaine Bogan and Ennio Torresan deliver a charming and colourful animation in DreamWorks’ Spirit Untamed.
The story concerns a feisty 13-year-old girl and a 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’s because, according to Lucky, she’s 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. He thought 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’s 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 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’s been well packaged and might have greatest appeal to younger girls. But that’s not to say others can’t enjoy it too.
Lucky is a great character to build a story around because her DNA means she will overstep boundaries. She’s also caring and the juxtaposition with the “baddies” is easily drawn. Her big green eyes are a drawcard. We might not see much of him, but Abigail’s younger brother Snips (Lucian Perez), who’s forever scheming, is another character with pluck I was drawn to.
Spirit Untamed brings a sense lot of warmth and wonderment, which hits the mark nicely.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.