Okay guys, this is going to be a short one. Firstly because I fell waaaay the damn behind schedule with this review and secondly because I review movies by recapping the plot and Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron has less of a plot and more of an outline. Very, very little happens and less of it is of interest. Because once again, I have tried to love Dreamworks and it has repaid me with treachery.
You see, I had never seen this one. In fact Spirit was the last of the early traditionally animated Dreamworks films I hadn’t seen and I was all set to continue my concerto writing meth dealer analogy from the last review, arguing that Dreamworks could have surpassed Disney as the greatest American purveyors of traditional animation if audiences hadn’t been seduced by the glossy CGI succubus (Pixelitia! How I curse thee!) and then…ugh.
So true story, I sat down to watch this with Mini Mouse and at around the hour mark she turns to me, rolls her eyes and says:
Dreamworks? She’s a five year old girl. If you can’t sell a five year old girl a cartoon with horses, you have FAILED. You have failed more totally than it should be possible for human beings to fail. You have created a masterpiece of ineptitude. You broke the damn scale.
What went wrong? Let’s take a look.
So, in my last review I described Jeffrey Katzenberg as a film-maker who makes you go “Hmmmmm…”. Spirit does not, at first blush, seem to be deliberately aping any Disney or Pixar movie directly. But then we see sweeping vistas, our main character’s birth in a field and over-written, painfully pretentious narration and oh God no, no, no, no…
Oh of all the…
OF ALL THE DISNEY MOVIES TO RIP OFF YOU WENT WITH THE ABSOLUTE WORST ONE. YOU FUCKING ANIMALS.
Okay, Spirit does actually manage to improve on Dinosaur in one important respect. Whereas in Dinosaur the main characters looked like butt on a cracker, in Spirit they look amazing. In fact, if I had to give props to this movie for anything, it is that it probably has some of the most perfectly animated horses I have ever seen. Which, given that this is an animation about horses, I suppose is not nothing. But, in a perfect example of how traditional animation remains ever young whereas CGI rots and decays like a dead dog on a summer’s road, the backgrounds look terrible and fake. Another interesting feature of the movie (and one it gets a lot of credit for from critics which I don’t think it earns) is that all the horses are silent throughout the movie. This, incidentally, was how Disney were originally going to do Dinosaur until they chickened out and had all the character’s speaking.
Now, telling a story with silent protagonists is gutsy, because it’s so much harder to establish characters that the audience will want to root for and to tell a tale with any kind of complexity. Can be done, absolutely. But very tricky. Spirit tries to cheat by having our main character narrate for us but this fails for two reasons. Firstly, let’s take a look at the opening monologue, along with my annotations:
“The story that I want to tell you cannot be found in a book you’re a horse, you have no concept of a book, shut up . They who? Who?! say that the history of the west was written from the saddle of a horse, but it’s never been told from the heart of one excuse me, where’s my puking bucket. Not till now when is now? What’s happening now? Since you, Spirit, a dumb animal, decided to star in this movie? Are you monologuing? Who you talking to? Are these just your thoughts? What’s happening NOW?. I was born here, in this place that would come to be called the Old West so not only do you know what humans will call this place but you can see the future, damn but you’re a talented fucking horse. But, to my kind, the land was ageless. It had no beginning and no end, no boundary between earth and sky. Like the wind and the buffalo grass, we belonged here, we would always belong here slow down, Runs with Monologue, I’m becoming overcome with how one with the land you are. They say the mustang is the spirit of the West YOU’RE FROM SPAIN, YOU IDIOT. Whether that West was won or lost in the end YOU ARE A HORSE, WHAT DO YOU KNOW OF SUCH THINGS you’ll have to decide for yourself, but the story I want to tell you is true I DON’T BELIEVE YOU, YOU BEEN LYING TO MY FACE SINCE YOU GOT HERE. I was there and I remember ooooooohhh good for you!. I remember the sun, the sky, and the wind calling my name in a time when we ran free well I’ve seen the wolf cry to the blue corn moon, asked the grinning bobcat why he grins and painted with all the colours of the wind and you can’t do any of those things because YOU ARE A HORSE. I’ll never forget the sound and the feeling of running together. The hoof beats were many, but our hearts were one.” I wish you only had one heart between you because then most of you would be dead.
Sorry, I don’t mean to come off bitter. But damn tho that is some bad writing. But then we get our second problem. Because the voice actor chosen to give life to this plate of overcooked verbal tripe was…
Look, nothing against the guy. Decent to good actor. But Matt Damon’s whole niche is being the everyman lead. Let me ask you a question. Do you think you could do an impression of Matt Damon that anyone could recognise? I don’t mean quoting lines like “How you like them apples?” I mean, just talking but in a Matt Damon voice. Could anybody tell what you were doing? Probably not, right? And that’s your first clue that he shouldn’t be doing voice work. If an actor doesn’t have a voice that’s instantly recognisable and memorable then they should stick to acting where their physicality and expressions are visible. You know, sometimes I think we’d all be better off if Beauty and the Beast had never been nominated for that dang Oscar. Once Katzenberg got a taste for gold he started chasing it with dreck like Pocahontas and Spirit. You can almost picture him madly scribbling notes in a darkened study whispering “It has Indians! It has big name stars! It has songs about being one with the Earth! It’s about AMERICA! They must give us the precious, they must!”
Just…Matt Damon? You made a movie about a horse who personifies the furious, untameable spirit of the Old West and you went with Matt Damon? Literally ANY ACTOR I can think of would be better in this part. SMOWE! Give me a random actor!
Yup, totally works better.
Alright, so Spirit is born, he grows up, he becomes leader of his herd and they roam the plains of the Mid-West grazing and personifying the ancient wildness of the continent’s great spirit as ya do as ya do. Now, as I mentioned before, the plot of this thing could literally be summarised on the back of a matchbox so the movie pads its running time with songs and in the process becomes a useful textbook case as to how a bad score can absolutely tank a movie. Seriously, I can’t remember a movie that suffers so much from poor musical choices as this one. You could take the entire John Williams score from Star Wars and replace it with a hobo on a kazoo and the film would survive better than this. And it’s doubly galling to me because the score was done by one of my favourite movie composers, none other than the FUCKING ZIM!
So what’s the problem? Well, let’s compare this to another Hans Zimmer score for an animated movie.
There are many reasons why The Circle of Life is as epic and masterful as it is. A terrific score, fantastic vocals all across the board and some very strong lyrics from Elton John. But I would argue that another reason it succeeds is the use of a live orchestra. This sequence is trying to make us feel that we are witnessing something ancient, wondrous and mythical and you simply can’t do that with synthetic sound. You can’t make the audience feel at one with nature with a sound that is obviously artificial. I don’t know why Spirit’s score makes such heavy use of electric keyboard but once that choice was made, that was the shooting match. Zimmer could write the most ethereal, soul-stirring melodies possible but it was still going to sound like a corporate motivational video.
And then there are the songs. Again, sorry if I keep harping on about this, but this movie is about the wild spirit of the frontier as told through the experience of an untameable Mustang horse. These songs need authenticity, depth, the sense of tapping into a deeper, trancendant truth. Think about the kind of artist who best meets that description. Were you thinking of Bryan Adams? No, no. Bryan Adams post “Summer of ‘69”.
Yeah, that’s what I thought.
The songs are bad in and of themselves but they work so hard to destroy the atmosphere the movie is trying to create that part of me thinks Adam’s was taking the Mouse’s shilling. In fact, oh criminey…
It’s true. Home on the Range was better at using its songs to create a consistent tone and sense of place. It’s just awful. Watching Spirit getting broken in at a corral to the strains of Get Off Of My Back is the kind of tonal dissonance you’d get if someone layered Spice Girls over Dances with Wolves.
But anyway, the “plot”. One day, Spirit hears something strange on the wind and goes to explore, finding…
Spirit gets captured by some US soldiers and taken back to their barracks while his mother and the rest of the herd look on helplessly. Oh and there’s this bit where Spirit yells to them “Run! Leave me!” and his mother’s all “NOOOOO!” but here’s the thing, they do it all in horse neighs and it is GODDAMN HILARIOUS.
At the barracks, Spirit comes face to face with The Colonel, voiced by James Cromwell a great and respected actor who doesn’t have a particularly distinctive voice and who’s warm avuncular presence is pissed away on this part like so much…piss. The soldier’s try to break Spirit in but he’s the personification of the wild untameable west in case you haven’t heard so the Colonel orders him to be left out in the yard with no food or water for three days to learn him some manners.
The soldiers capture an Indian named Little Creek (Daniel Studi) and tie him to a post near Spirit.
Because Little Creek is Native American he’s got a psychic connection with all horses and he and Spirit escape together and flee to Little Creek’s tribe. There, Spirit meets Little Creek’s mare, Rain, and oh my here’s where things get weird. Spirit watches Rain playing with Little Creek in a way that is decidedly…not platonic and gets really jealous. And in case you think I’ve just got a perverted mind, here is some actual dialogue that was actually written for this children’s movie.
“I couldn’t understand it. She treated this scrawny two-legged like one of our kind, prancing around him like a love-struck yearling. It was down right unnatural.”
Little Creek tries to ride Spirit (not like that. I think) but can’t because blah blah he’s so untameable or whatever. So Little Creek tries to convince Spirit that living amongst humans isn’t all bad by using Rain as bait (ah, the honey trap).
So he ties Spirit and Rain together and he sets them loose. Spirit tries to run away but Rain won’t go and then she uses the rope to tie him up and make flirty eyes and oh my God I’m watching two cartoon horses engage in bondage when did this become my life?
Rain and Spirit run around and fall in love to a Bryan Adams song that’s not Summer of ’69 which means that their love shall be cursed in the sight of God. They return to the camp and Little Creek tries to ride Spirit again but he’s all “Nope, still untameable” and Little Creek decides to let him go so he can be one with the land and shit. But then, the Colonel attacks the village and Rain gets shot and falls into the river. Spirit jumps after her and manages to pull her out of the water by grabbing her with…his…back? He brings her to shore but she’s dying from her bullet wound. Spirit tries to stay with her but he gets captured by the soldiers and sent to work dragging a big ass train up a mountain with a team of other horses.
Realising that the train is going to bring European settlers and industrialisation which will destroy the delicate ecosystem and unspoiled majesty of the American interior as well as delivering a death blow to the last remnants of Native American civilisation as a free and independent political and cultural entity (that’s one smart horse) Spirit decides to sabotage the train and causes it to go rolling down the mountain.
Turns out the army really liked that train and they’re just about to send Spirit to the glue factory. But Little Creek shows up and rescues him and they hightail it back to his village. Rain’s still alive because of course she is which doesn’t stop the movie from milking it for every drop of mawkish pap it can. Little Creek gives Spirit his name and sets both horses free and they go back and find his mom or something, I dunno, I’m pretty sure I slept through the last twenty minutes.
Dreamworks trying to do serious and heartfelt reminds me that they literally only pulled that off once and comedy is really more their bag. I may keep waiting for another Prince of Egypt, but it’ll never happen. Spirit is dull, moribund Oscar bait and I hate it a lot more than other, objectively worse films.
So, that was Dreamworks month. Let us never speak of it again.
Yes, yes, horses are a nightmarish assembly of angles liable to make the stoutest animator go mad at the very sight of them and they look very convincing golf clap, golf clap. Backgrounds are still garbage, though.
Just phoned in. Everything from the vocal performance to the design. Dull, dull, dull.
Supporting Characters: 05/20
Katzenberg. Leave the Indians alone. They’ve suffered enough.
Honestly, with a different score the movie might just have been salvageable.
FINAL SCORE: 34%
NEXT UPDATE: 12 April 2018
NEXT TIME: So next review falls on Ms Mouse’s birthday so we’re going to be jointly reviewing a movie of her choice. I’ve no idea what she’s going to settle on but…
Maaan, I’d just ever seen the posters and advertisements for this one, and it looked decent! What could go wrong?
A lot, apparently.
It seems this movie’s just…uninspired hackery. Almost makes me wish I’d gone with the troll option back when we were nominating and voted for the other animated horsey movie.
My family’s VHS of this has not been used in probably over ten years, but my sisters loved this movie for years specifically for the soundtrack. The quit watching it because, now they have the songs on their ipods. At least the Bryan Adams fans love it.
I’ve seen this movie. I was going to say I don’t remember it being that bad but then I realized I don’t remember it at all. All I remembered was a train got pulled at some point and it had that yellow horse on the poster. That probably says a lot.
Man I had no idea you were gonna hate this one. Do you think you hate it more than Poke your Hontas?
As he normally prefers complex stories I expected him to dislike it, but not this much.
I have reserves of hatred you people can only dream of.
Also CABARET. THAT’S LIKE ONE OF THE BEST THINGS EVER MADE. Bit of an odd choice for this review blog. Not a ton to make jokes about, aside from all the gay “hints” (it’s pretty blatant but eh the seventies was a rough time). Looking forward!
It should be blatant. The entire point of the plot is the obliviousness of the vibrant liberal/multicultural communities of Weimar Germany (be they Jewish, homosexual or just avant garde) to the rising tide of nationalism and how trying to simply ignore the far right hatred and retreat into your own comfortable world will inevitably lead to you being defenceless when it becomes strong enough to attack.
I wonder if Mouse is going to go into the differences between the stage productions and the film…
Actually, it’s just one of Ms Mouse’s favourite movies.
I rented this once and remember exactly none of it. Hardly surprising from this review, nice to know I didn’t somehow delete the memory of a masterpiece to store, I dunno, my fifty-third viewing of a Friday the 13th movie or something.
Had no idea Bryan Adams did the soundtrack. Never been able to stomach him, not even really a fan of his good song, so it’s likely I suppressed the whole experience out of self-defense.
Cabaret? Oh, this is gonna be a scream.
Never seen this movie, but I find it hilarious that you make fun of “post-Summer of ’69 Bryan Adams” when that was the one my mother changed the station on the most, and the only one she would flat out tell me she didn’t like. Which was sad because as a child I picked So Far So Good out before a trip to Illinois to see my grandparents, and I just listened to that on an endless loop during those trips so much that it’s still buried somewhere deep in the lining of my soul today.
And need I remind you it was post-Summer of ’69 Bryan Adams that gave us this killer riff:
Oh damn. I got suckered by the screenshots and the ten minutes of the ending I caught on tv once. I actually thought it’d be good. Also, Matt Damon? Really? I cannot think of an actor less qualified to play a horse. I’m not sure what it is, it’s just something distinctly un-horselike about him.
Yeah. It’s like you look at him and think “how much less of a horse could this guy be?” And the answer is “none”. None less horse.
Five-year-old city girls may not like it.
But five-year-old country girls who want nothing more out of life than ten ponies and a truck to drive them around in?
They watch it again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and ALRIGHT ALREADY PONY ALCHEMIST HOW MANY FRUCKIN TIMES ARE WE GONNA WATCH THIS DAMN HORSE GET CAUGHT?
My other sister and I used to run around the room doing ‘expressive neighs’ from about the twelfth rewatch onward.
You got problems, P.
‘Okay, well, if you big girls don’t watch to watch Pony’s horse movie, maybe your little brother can choose one.’
‘Great idea. Hey little Pasta Alchemist, what movie do you want to -?’
Dammit, are we ever getting a review of How to Train Your Dragon 2?
Don’t stop believing.
True story: this is the first movie I saw in a theater. Not a very exciting start to a childhood.
I can do better than that. First movie I saw in a theater? Dinosaur.
Lol honestly this movie completely lost me the moment Matt Damon Horse was all like “we belong here. We’ve always belonged here.”
Like, no Matt Damon Horse. You’re an invasive species brought to this continent by genocidal Europeans. You were domesticated in Mongolia.
“A time when wild horses ran free!” THIS TIME ONLY EXISTED FOR LIKE MAYBE 100 YEARS!!! YOU ARE NOT PART OF THIS LAND! YOU’RE FROM MONGOLIA.
In a weird case of a stopped clock being right twice a day, there were actually several thousand years in the US when “wild horses ran free.” The ancestor of the modern horse *did* originate in North America. They crossed to South America, Europe and Asia by way of ice-age land bridges. 15,000 years ago, the wild North American horses disappeared in the Pleistocene mega-extinction (which may or may not have been partially caused by human predation, as well as climate factors). Thanks, National Geographic!
Of course the environment may have changed enough in that time that the introduction of feral domesticated horses bred for different traits would have done a fair bit of damage. I certainly wouldn’t want a rhino-sized wombat or seven-metre goanna re-introduced to my local state park.
Welcome…to Goanna Park!
*Marsupial lion leaps down from the trees and crushes a cow’s skull with the strongest bite force of any land animal*
‘Life, uh, uh, finds a way.’
Not for the cow, it didn’t.
Lol I knew about the ancestors of wild horses being from North America. I just like yelling at Matt Damon Horse (I will call him by no other name) that he’s wrong.
Aw, I liked this one, how dare you people make me feel like a special snowflake.
I’m with you, Phantom. I really like this one too. Kinda breaks my heart a little that Mouse disliked it so much.
Aw now I feel like a dick.
I also loved this one, and figured Mouse would, too, so I was really thrown by his not only disliking it but vitriolically hating it. It’s kind of off-putting and a bit of a bummer, as I don’t think I’ve really disagreed this hard with him before. I’ve disagreed, sure, but I could always *see* where his POV was coming from. This one? I gotta say, I just think you missed the mark, mouse.
CABARET, eh? At this point we’ll have to start calling Mrs Mouse “Frau Mouse” instead! (or possibly even “Madame Mouse”); at any rate given some of the films reviewed on this website this charmingly-sleazy newcomer should fit right in (I’m not looking at you FRITZ, because you are just Deplorable and must leave my presence immediately if not sooner).
Of course it helps that CABARET is an actual musical and … actually now I think on it THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG plays out in a very different place, but might actually take place at much the same time as CABARET (they’re both set in the 1920s/30s, if I remember correctly).
Yes, I know that’s a rather odd thought if ever there was one …
Now, moving on to the film actually reviewed – I have to agree that Mister Matt Damon does NOT have a voice for radio and was inspired to tread the scriptoriums of IMDB, that Aladdin’s Cave of Movie Trivia, wondering if Mr Damon was the original choice for narrator.
As it turns out Mr Tom Hanks and Mr Robert Redford appear to have been consider first; both sound choices, though on further consideration I can offer two more that might have been even better (both of whom later did or had already done a Dreamworks Feature) –
– One really does think that Mr Danny Glover would have been perfectly suited to the role of narrator; that wonderful, whiskery voice of his works perfectly for an old-timer sharing his experiences with the yearlings and his casting would add a highly useful subtext to the film which need not be spelled out (although that very subtext might cause casting directors to chicken out).
As a bonus thought, I’d bet Mr Mel Gibson would have worked wonderfully for a “Mad as Custer” Colonel Villainy, even if he were not playing antagonist to a character voiced indirectly by Mr Glover: his screen persona at the time would also have allowed for an element of subtle deconstruction (the Hero-as-Villain in another story) and some Mad, Staring Eyes would greatly enliven The Colonel’s character design.
– Second to none, though I elected to save the more hilarious casting choice for last, while reading your description of Spirit’s ancestry as fundamentally Spanish and contemplating the sad conclusion to “March of Dreamworks” it struck me that most entertaining possible choice for Narrator would be Hollywood’s very favourite Andalusian Stallion Señor Antonio Banderas.
Think about it – passionate, charming and blessed with a speaking voice that could make a phone book sound like a Swashbuckling Adventure shading into a Ripping Yarn while he was reading it; think about it, isn’t that sultry Spanish voice entering your imagination even as you read this amigo?
… now I really want to see you Review PUSS IN BOOTS (the best sequel to THE MASK OF ZORRO one could ever ask for and by miles the best thing to have escaped from the SHREK franchise) but fear you may have sworn off Dreamworks for the nonce.
Ah well, I’ll just have to wait for the next chance to bribe you in the name of Charity!
Yes, this is quite a hard one to watch!
I haven’t seen Cabaret yet.
I still haven’t watched “Spirit” yet but now I’m not sure I want to. Maybe if I put it on mute and just watch the visuals?
Which version of “Cabaret” are you going to review — the 70s one or the Alan Cumming bootleg?
The music isn’t that bad but not most fitting. But the music was the only thing that got emotional response from me at all. I barely remembered the “plot”.
And wonderful that Dreamworks decided apparently that even a horse should play damsel in distress.
Anyway Mouse is it possible to get more indexes like for Dreamworks here?
You mean like a ranking system?
Aww I loved this film as a kid.
Although saying that I haven’t seen it for like a decade. My opinion may change xD
I’ll have to watch it again soon and see if it holds up. I remember having the dvd and spending hours on those stupid games they always had.
Also has anyway checked out the TV series Netflix has done about spirit? It looks pretty terrible and I don’t want to watch it myself.
They made a TV show out of this? Jesus Dreamworks will make a show out of literally anything, how long until we get Shark Tale the TV series?
Hey, at least their Voltron series is pretty good.
DON’T JOKE ABOUT THAT!
Tbh my first reaction was more like “how dare they bastardise this CLASSIC with a cartoon!”
it’ll probably be a bit different once I rewatch spirit again lol
It doesn’t even have anything to do with the movie, from what I can tell. It’s a show about a little girl and her horse. They just shoved Spirit in there for brand recognition.
Definitely saw this at some point probably around 2005 but I could not tell you a damn thing about it other than it’s about a horse.
Did you hear what’s been going down over at Channel Awesome? It..isn’t pretty.
What? No. Dish.
The whole ship is underwater, captain.
Ooof. That’s bad.
Yeah just in the last couple weeks Linkara left the site because of this which is pretty huge. And it seems that this kind of stuff is what drove away Lindsay Ellis and others like Lupa, MarzGurl, Dan Olson, Kyle Kallgren, and Suede
I remember loving this one as a kid but I was super into horses in general. I am too afraid to watch it again and realize it was anything less than awesome
(1) Remember it’s Dreamworks month
(2) Pitch a Gru’s Plan meme at Mouse’s next review
(3) Too late, Dreamworks month is dead and so is the me… wait, what?
D’OH! I forgot, Gru isn’t Dreamworks!
… any chance of you doing an Illumination month some decade from now?
Every Dreamworks review you do is another crumb thrown at me from the world’s most delicious cake. I hope someday you do Sinbad. And, please god, Boss Baby.
Thanks so much. Always nice to get positive feedback.
I’m really interested to see how you’re going to approach this film… Most reviews of Cabaret focus on a theme or its adaptation, and not recapping with witty observations.
Spirit used to be aired on TV quite frequently here, even more than most Disney films. Even at 10 years I found Rain kinda problematic….
I remember one song fondly- the one where Spirit is on a train and his family runs in the snow or something?
To close the Dreamworks Month, while I gather from your comments here and there you aren’t exactly a big fan of Shrek, I think the first two installements deserve a sincere appraise for giving American theatrical animation a much needed shakeoff and wakeup call. Sure, they inspired a lot of utter junk later on (Gnomeo and Juliet, Hoodwinked and its ilk), but that’s like blaming Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns for all the crappy grim and gritty comics that followed right into the Image era (and in this equation the Dark Knight sequels and Watchmen spinoffs would be the equivalents of Shrek 3 and Shrek Forever After, of course).
I think, in a way, Shrek even saved Disney from itself. It showed Disney what it’d become after several cycles of regurgitation of its own worst cliches. The irony being, while Disney learned the lesson after several failed attempts to ape DreamWorks and got to find its own spirit back (with a lot of help from Pixar, granted), DreamWorks failed to learn its own lesson and fell into just aping the style of those early Shreks (and Kung Fu Pandas, I guess) without understanding what made them work.
But for all Shrek has become meme fodder and target of partially justified mockery, I think we all should remember we actually owe the ogre a lot.
Do we, though…? Do we really…?
Not trying to pick a fight here, but Shrek came out in 2001, at which point Disney was already moving away from all the fairy-tale dreams-come-true cliches. Fantasia 2000, Atlantis, Emperor’s New Groove (which was, let’s face it, a better Shrek than Shrek even if audiences at the time didn’t appreciate it as such)… one could even argue Tarzan was a bit of a moldbreaker, if only in how eagerly his movie approached the action/adventure side of the spectrum.
Really, in the short run Shrek actually seemed to make Disney cling *tighter* to its sugary-sweet cliches (Brother Bear, Home on the Range), before going 180 degrees into the aforementioned “aping” period (though one recalls that Mouse, at least, thinks Chicken Little is a pretty good movie), and only finding peace in the late 2000s by… ignoring Dreamworks altogether.
Uhm….I happen to looooove the soundtrack of Spirit….especially “sound the bugle”. And the score…as it happened, I was watching a flamenco show a few days ago and they were using the score at one point. It was great, you could hear the horses galloping around the dancers.
Otherwise I agree. See, I watched the movie the first time and I was really engaged…but I was watching the GERMAN dub, which had a very engaging narrator. Eventually I got around watching the english one and got for the first time why the hell people felt the movie is boring. This hinges entirely on the narrator…you need a first class voice actor for this one. The German dub has a theatrically trained actor, and it makes all the difference (they also allowed themselves a few tweaks with the text).
“If an actor doesn’t have a
voice that’stalent for producing voices that are instantly recognisable and memorable then they should stick to acting where their physicality and expressions are visible.”
Fixed that for you. Many of the great voice actors have everyday speaking voices that you wouldn’t recognize – and a dozen or more voices that you wouldn’t recognize as coming from the same person.
Though I agree with absolutely everything in this review, my anal-retentive nature still finds the most annoying thing about this film is that when the horses drink from the river, they lap water with their tongues like dogs. Actual horses do not do this, and it pisses me off that the animators either didn’t notice it or deliberately changed it.
I respectfully disagree.
This one’s real fuzzy for me. I’ve watched El Dorado plenty of times, can kind of remember Sinbad a bit, but this one I think I watched once, and can barely remember. I guess horses aren’t the most interesting animal for me (at least not enough for me to watch a whole movie starring one, I have childhood memories of finding it tough to make it through Black Beauty as well). Or maybe it’s just really dull, judging by Mini Mouse’s reaction. And that it’s apparently the Dinosaur of Dreamworks. Huh boy.
Interesting talk of silent protagonists. I remember hearing lots of people say how stupid it was to make a film staring the Minions of Despicable Me due to their just about never talking in actual words (plenty of other reasons, but that was a big one that kept coming up in the reviews I’ve been looking at). Then I remembered that one of Disney’s classic movies actually did this and made it work. Sure, I guess Timothy does a lot of the talking for him, but before he shows up, his main company is his mother, who doesn’t have any lines either since his birth. Which I guess is just another reason Walt Disney will go down as one of the gutsiest filmmakers in animation.
Wait, so Red Skull did get Zim in the divorce? Huh. Guess he just keeps trying to copy off Lion King piece by piece. Too bad he apparently is making the mistake of only serving butter, then flour rather than actual cake. Also, guess you had something nice to say about Home on the Range after all. Ahh man. Speaking of man, why are horses of all things surprised by them? Those were the guys who built the boats to get their ancestors across the Atlantic to this land they “belonged” in, those ungrateful ungulates! Also, yeesh, this movie had characters who were enacting that live show Seth Rogen was describing at the beginning of The 40 Year Old Virgin? Glad I blotted that out of my mind.
Also, ooh, Cabaret! Yay Cabaret! I literally only know one song my auntie sang in a show once, but a birthday review sound nice!
I see your taste is as bad as your review. You had to stretch pretty far and outright lie to try to make this movie sound like it was a steaming turd, when it clearly isn’t. It’s beautiful, has a great score by a celebrated movie musician, has great action scenes, and the narration falls perfectly in line with other animal films such as Black Beauty and Homeward Bound.