As reboots go, Spirit Untamed is quite possibly one of the worst Hollywood has ever produced. The original Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron is an early DreamWorks film that is seldom ever spoken about, especially since it has the animation studio’s classics like Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon to compete with. There’s an argument to be made that the original Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron came out at a time when the mainstream appeal of 2D animation was starting to die out as Pixar were releasing hit after hit with their new computer generated 3D animation.
This is a shame because Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron is one of DreamWorks most underrated films. Though it has a short fall of having a narration from Matt Damon which is completely unnecessary, it still succeeds in showing a rather dark and tragic story about the Old West in a reasonably realistic but also beautiful way. Spirit Untamed however tries to rectify the supposed detractors of the original film to disastrous effect.
Of course, Spirit Untamed has transferred the story of this caramel coloured horse to 3D Animation. It’s not the same sort of 3D craftwork that shines in films like Soul and Incredibles 2. It’s an atrocious and appalling animation style akin to a cheap cartoon you’d see on CBeebies. All of the character designs of the humans are disgusting. The main villain’s face is almost unrecognisable as being a human being’s, while all of the protagonists’ faces have anime syndrome with huge and ridiculous eyes. The horses do thankfully look like horses, but their fur is flat and very undefined, adding to the cheap look of the film.
The issue of the original film’s tell don’t show Matt Damon narration is “improved” for the worse in Spirit Untamed. While they remove the narration, they also remove Spirit’s position as the film’s main character. He’s replaced with Fortuna or Lucky, a young half Mexican girl whose mother was killed in a very poorly explained horse riding accident.
Spirit was the main and best character in Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. Though he never technically spoke, you could tell everything he was thinking and feeling through his various whinnies and neighs along with his facial expressions. In Spirit Untamed, you can almost sense that he knows he’s been completely betrayed by the writers. All his scenes just involve him jumping around and acting scared, waiting for Fortuna to save him from any sort of danger.
There are literally no other characters to note other than maybe Fortuna’s father who’s played by none other than Jake Gyllenhaal (in a role he most definitely did for the money). He’s not a massively entertaining character, but you can tell that Gyllenhaal tried his best to give the character some sort of life. Every other character in the film is annoying and pointless and serves only to fill the screen with obnoxious noise.
Spirit Untamed could honestly be seen as an act of vandalism against the far superior Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. DO NOT watch this horrific display of studio greed. Instead, search out the original and see just how underrated it is.
Spirit Untamed will premiere in UK theaters July 30th.