(The Dreamworks-uary logo is shown, before showing clips from Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. The song "Brothers Under the Sun" by Bryan Adams plays throughout)
Doug (vo): Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron... [Tries to say the word "Cimarron", but has difficulty doing so, before giving up] Spirit. In some ways, this is one of Dreamworks' most adult films, in that it doesn't really have talking animals, it doesn't have a ton of singing animals either. But it also has a narration by Matt Damon, odd choice, and a soundtrack that mostly consists of...80s-style songs, also weird choice. Does it all come together? Well, yes and no.
Doug (vo): The story centers around the life of a horse in the new West. Native Americans are in the process of fighting for their land against the white man, and one lone horse is separated from his mother and his group. Confederate soldiers try to tame the horse, but this is an untameable animal. That is, except for maybe a Native American teenage boy, who is also captured by the Army. The two escape and try to find their way back home. Along their travels, they come across many dangers, get separated, reunited and separated and reunited, comes across some other interesting characters, sees a bunch of really pretty landscapes, is conflicted on who he is and where he belongs, all sorts of good stuff.
Doug (vo): So like I said before, the most interesting aspect about the film is that the animals don't really talk, except for, again, a narration by Matt Damon. But even that's sort of toned down to just the bare bones' essentials. Really, the majority of the movie is just told through the horse's expressions, and you know what? Kudos. Which is not to say I'm against talking animals in movies, but it's just so often we see it, and now, here's a film where the talking animals are not needed, and it still works. Most of the emotion is communicated through the expressions on the faces, which, on a horse, is very difficult to do. But the animators do a really decent job. You want to know what's going to happen to them, you want to get through their journey, and this creates a really good adventure. Good, but not...great. To the film's credit, this is a very hard movie to make great. I mean, it has a lot of things against it, with not making the animals talk and focusing on an animal that mostly has to be on all fours most of the time. So the fact that this is a good movie at all I think is actually pretty impressive. It's a tough flick to make interesting.
[Several scenes, some darker and some lighter, are shown]
Doug (vo): And they don't shy away from the dark stuff either. I mean, when times get really rough, they show how really rough they get. And when you really need to enjoy the good side of nature and all that it has to offer, it really takes time to show that as well. The 80s-style songs, you're either gonna love or you're gonna hate. I'll admit, I kind of enjoyed them, I don't know. Maybe I just have a certain nostalgia for them. But I can see it really getting in the way for other people, too. And maybe that's what the film comes down to, just sort of personal taste.
[The Wild West scenery is shown in the next few clips]
Doug (vo): If you really like the Wild West and pretty shots of canyons and mountains and the desert and so forth, this is probably your flick. It does seem very in-tune with nature and doesn't feel like it has to rush anything. I guess, well, I'm just not really one for that Western sort of world. I think a movie has to try especially hard to get me into this sort of environment, which is not to say it's a bad environment. It's a pretty environment, it's just not my favorite.
Doug (vo): And with all those other elements to fight with, like I said, the horses not talking and so forth, I'm amazed it kept my attention as much as it did. So I'm impressed with how they pulled this off. Not one of my personal faves, but I'm glad I saw it. It has pretty scenery, good characters, some great animation, and the maturity to know when to let the words do the talking and when to let the imagery do the talking. If you got a little extra time on your hands, I definitely say, check it out.
[A scene showing a large herd of horses racing with each other is shown]
Bryan Adams: (singing) My brother under the sun...