Thunderhead: Son of Flicka Review

Uh oh, it’s time to go back to the adventures of good ole Flicka. Let me tell you, this is not a story for the faint of heart. It has drama, intensity, and a lot of other horses. While the film is going for a much more dramatic vibe than the first film, it ultimately fails due to the same faults. As I said in my earlier review, perhaps this is just something that is extremely difficult to escape for any film based around a horse.

Many years have passed since the first film and Ken is not much more ready when it comes to having another horse. Time isn’t going to wait now though as Flicka has a kid named Thunderhead. Thunderhead is extremely wild of course and doesn’t want to live inside the farm cage. He wants to be a free spirit who can just run around as he pleases. Ken is determined to break-in Thunderhead which has always been a rather odd term but effectively it means to get him trained. The problem is that Ken isn’t very strong so he has to be careful not to injure himself.

In the more dramatic subplot, we learn that there was once a stallion of incredible power. He was as white as a sheet of snow and would often visit the various ranches/farms in order to steal a bunch of horses and have a bunch of kids. This guy even gets villain music and has a pretty unique design for a horse. For years he has continued to haunt the main characters but nobody could ever catch him. If they don’t do something soon, there will be no more horses to protect.

So as you can see, this is going to be a very difficult situation for the characters. It’s also a sub-plot that should raise a lot of red flags because for the horses who fight back against the Stallion, they can never win. Some brave horses try fighting back but are all promptly murdered by this beast. It’s a shame because they were just trying to do the right thing and paid for it.

I was surprised that the film had so much action. Naturally this even leads to a big climax battle with Thunderhead. Here’s the issue of course, you can’t have big animal fights without animal violence. It’s not going to happen and these fights get pretty brutal. At one point you even have Thunderhead stomping another horse to death. It’s off screen as you can only see the stomping and not the other horse but that was pretty brutal.

This installment definitely ramps everything up compared to the first film. So right off the bat this one couldn’t be salvaged but at least it is easier to find some silver linings here compared to the first. I liked the idea of a big race with the horses. It actually felt like this movie had more of a central focus compared to the first one as a result.

The main race is fairly quick but it made for a pretty intense scene. Ultimately it does show that Thunderhead is the fastest horse but being the fastest doesn’t always mean you will claim victory. As a main character while Ken may be ever so slightly improved from the first film, I still don’t like him. He quits rather easily and gets really upset at his horse the whole time. He’s not a very good leader nor is he someone you would want to follow. He wasn’t ready for another horse and is basically just a cheerleader in the climax as he watches the two horses fight.

The supporting characters have less of a role this time compared to the first film. For example the parents are still around but don’t do much. The Mom helps Ken by getting him a uniform and the Dad ultimately relents to him entering the race but that’s about it. Not a whole lot would change if they weren’t even in the film. Likewise the sister is mainly here to call in the grownups when Ken is messing up but that’s about it.

Thunderhead was a good horse though. He’s pretty tough and ultimately has some heroic traits like how he charged into battle. Thunderhead is quite free willed but I wouldn’t say he ever makes the wrong call except for randomly running into the field at one point instead of following the path. That felt pretty random and maybe even a bit forced but otherwise he was on point. Definitely a leader that you could follow into battle at any time.

As mentioned, the more interesting plot is with the mysterious Stallion even if you know that it’s not going to end well. I’ll give the film credit for having a real soundtrack this time. It’s not every day that you have a hype villain theme like what this film had. The writing is okay as well I suppose. It was nice seeing more of general society like the race track betters. I’d like to see more of that in future installments. Perhaps a change in scenery would do the film good. I’m not sure how you would squeeze the horses into a city plot like that but maybe you don’t. Make this more of a human based story instead.

Overall, Thunderhead, Son of Flicka ultimately loses to the first film. While it wins in some areas like the soundtrack and story, it ultimately doubles down on the horse deaths and showing that they live in a very dangerous world. I was rooting for Thunderhead to escape while Ken was trying to tame him the whole time. Thunderhead knows that he is destined to be a King and needs space to move around. In that way he is a lot like Spirit, king of his herd. Surprisingly Flicka barely has a role here at all. The whole jumping out from the water is probably her last big scene in the film. I suppose she already had a complete movie experience but I was expecting more moments. Either way you’re going to want to give this one a skip.

Overall 1/10

My Friend Flicka Review

Whenever you have a film based around an animal you have to tread very carefully. Odds are that things are about to get real dicey real fast. Unfortunately this film was unable to avoid that as Flicka is put through the ringer and there are animal deaths here. That’s a quick way to put yourself in a losing position and the film never quite recovered.

The movie follows a kid named Ken who really wants a horse of his own. To that end he has basically stopped studying and is flunking every test at school. Ken is forgetting his chores and doesn’t even know how to look over the horses properly so Nell suggests that Rob get Ken his horse. Rob is pretty dubious since he points out that Ken should be proving himself worthy instead of getting the prize at the beginning. Still, they allow Ken to have his own horse which he names Flicka. The problem is that Flicka is quite wild and not like most horses. Can he really be tamed?

So the premise itself could be decent enough I suppose except for the fact that right off the bat Ken isn’t a good main character. He’s rather whiny the whole time and way too young to have a horse of his own. Near the beginning of the film he disobeys his father and runs out to the field where the horses are at. Naturally he trips and scares them which nearly costs the lives of every horse on the farm.

It’s not a great first impression and Ken never gets better after that. He’s rather rude to his sister the whole time as well with him constantly telling her to get out of the way with the horses and that she’ll never ride one since she’s a girl. She does manage to take him down for the count early on though when she forces him to confess to his father about where he found a saddle.

Ken’s not the most honest fellow out there that’s for sure. As for the parents, I wouldn’t say I was a big fan of either of them. Nell’s decision to get Ken a horse just felt like it was ill timed. He wasn’t ready for a horse as he clearly demonstrated with his early actions. Meanwhile Rob is quite open about shooting horses and such so he was out right from the start. It’s crazy so look at these times and how rough they were on the animals. It made for a very unlikable main cast.

Meanwhile Flicka is a nice enough horse. She’s quite wild but at the same time horses were meant to be free so you can’t blame her. You only have the cage to be blamed and the main characters for not working things out peacefully. Her mother had a rough time of things since even though they knew she was vicious, they still tried taking her away on the main road were an accident occurs.

You can expect horses to die out here that’s for sure and it puts a pretty big damper on the film as a whole. I wouldn’t even call this an uplifting film because of how sad it is for the horses. Aside from the parent dying which is already a full origin story for most characters, Flicka then gets injured by the barbed wire and has some rather serious cuts. Flicka really can’t catch a break at all.

My Friend Flicka is effectively a slice of life story about Ken finally proving himself and getting along with Flicka. The issue here is that this only works as a happy story if you either like Ken and the other characters or if you don’t find the horse scenes to be too sad. If both of those areas don’t go through as intended, then you’re really sunk and that’s what happened to the film.

On the plus side, it is fairly short so I wouldn’t say it drags on or anything like that. It definitely could have still trimmed some scenes but that’s not really addressing the core issues. You either needed some new plot element to keep things interesting or maybe even switched out the main character. After all, what positive things could you really say about the movie at the moment?

I suppose the writing isn’t bad. The characters may not be likable but I wouldn’t say that it reflects on the writing as a whole. None of them just clicked with me and this isn’t exactly the kind of film where you can expect a lot of snappy dialogue or anything like that. It’s more by the books from start to finish. I suppose as a positive or at least a back handed complement, I wouldn’t say it’s a boring film. It’s low key but should keep your interest well enough I guess. It just doesn’t have any weight to it.

Overall there are a lot of ways you could fix this film to make it more enjoyable but unfortunately the film didn’t take any of those avenues. It could have removed the horse violence or made the main character someone more likable. Either one of those changes would have done wonders for the movie. Still, I don’t expect a film with the horse as a main character will ever fare well. The deck is just stacked against them and by a large margin I should add. Even the ole whipping the horse to make it go faster always makes me wince. If you want to do a film about a horse and try to succeed then you should probably make it a robotic horse. That’s the only way I can see this working out. Ultimately the moral of this story is that Ken was not ready for his own horse.

Overall 2/10