Following in the hoofprints of its film and television predecessors, "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron" and "Spirit Riding Free," the new animated film, "Spirit Untamed," once again takes the viewer back to a time when wild horses roamed the West. This time, however, the humans who encounter the majestic beasts experience healing from their own hurts as they try to rescue the horses from the bad-guy wranglers.
Lucky Prescott (voice of Isabela Merced) lives with her Aunt Cora (voice of Julianne Moore) and Grandpa Prescott (voice of Joe Hart) in the big city but she's clearly unhappy. She has a wild side, like her mother, Milagro (voice of Eiza Gonzalez), who was a horse performer and died in a stunt accident. When Lucky's antics ruin her grandfather's chances for the governorship, she's sent west to Miradero, her hometown, where her father, Jim (voice of Jake Gyllenhaal), still lives.
As Cora and Lucky travel west on the train, Lucky takes in the vast spaces with awe. When a herd of wild horses, led by the titular Spirit, runs alongside the train, she's speechless with wonder. She also gives her Aunt a scare when she climbs outside the train to see the horses better. When she reaches Miradero, however, city-bred Lucky has a hard time fitting in with small-town life. Wandering into the local rodeo, she's amazed at the talent of the riders. Afterwards, Pru Granger (voice of Marsai Martin), a local girl Lucky's age, introduces her to Spirit, having been caught once again by wranglers. Having nothing else to do, she starts hanging out at the corral, making friends with the frisky horse. Drawn to Spirit's restlessness, Lucky tries unsuccessfully to ride him, being saved by her new friends Pru and Abigail (voice of McKenna Grace).
Lucky, voiced by Isabela Merced, meets Spirit. © 2021 DreamWorks Animation. All Rights Reserved.
Meanwhile, Jim doesn't know how to act around Lucky. He still grieves for his wife and has hidden away any memory of her. But Lucky finds Milagro's dressing room, full of mementos, behind a bookcase in her room. As she gets a glimpse of her mother's exciting life, she longs to ride like her mother, but Jim forbids it. When Jim shares his concerns with best friend, Al Granger (voice of Andre Braugher), Pru's Dad, he tells Jim, "Daughters! You need to earn their trust a little at a time."
One night, Lucky witnesses the bad-guy wranglers loading some wild horses onto a train and, riding Spirit, using his speed and agility, is determined to set them free. Defying her father and Aunt Cora, she plots with the PAL's (Pru, Abigail, and Lucky) to stop the wranglers and free the horses.
Abigail (McKenna Grace), Lucky (Isabel Merced), and Pru (Marsai Martin). © 2021 DreamWorks Animation. All Rights Reserved.
The dangerous adventure the girls set out on, including traversing the dreaded Ridge of Regret, wreaks havoc on their parents nerves but spurs Jim to finally act like a Dad.
Written by Kristin Hahn, Katherine Nolfi, and Aury Wallington and co-directed by Elain Bogan and Ennio Torresan, "Spirit Untamed" gives audiences a visually stunning, family friendly movie that will delight young people, but especially girls, with the relevant themes of friendship, respect for nature, the importance of learning (even dreaded math word problems), and love of family. The film also features multi-ethnic characters (and their multi-ethnic voice actors), a refreshing affirmation to the need for children to see characters that look like them in film stories.
Thanks to Catholic News Service for allowing us to post this review.