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Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron

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Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron: Dreamworks

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron

Current Status:
In Season
82 minutes
Wide Release Date:
James Cromwell, Matt Damon, Daniel Studi
Kelly Asbury, Lorna Cook
John Fusco
Western, Animation, Kids and Family

We gave it a B+

In a departure from the usual kiddie-cartoon fare, the wild horses in DreamWorks’ animated Western adventure don’t speak. But we do hear the titular steed’s thoughts in Matt Damon’s voice-over — which was recorded late in the production — and the animals whinny to each other, with lots of nearly human expressions to get across their meanings.

”They’re halfway between real horses and Disney’s old [character] Horace Horsecollar,” says codirector Asbury, a former Disney storyboard artist making his feature-helming debut. The visual style is a 2-D/3-D hybrid, with hand-drawn characters largely placed against fluid, swooping-perspective CG backgrounds. And there’s nothing cartoon-cuddly about the plot, which details Spirit’s capture and brutal treatment at the hands of a stern Army general (Cromwell).

In fact, the action touches on so many torments — branding, starvation, bullet injuries — that Asbury was ”surprised” to get a G rating rather than a PG. ”There’s nothing really shown on screen,” says Asbury. ”But horses haven’t generally been treated well in history…so you don’t want to pull too many punches. It was a constant concern: How much violence do we show? How much whipping? How many guns? You want to make it an adventure, not an ordeal.”