I remember hearing about how Spirit was the “King of his herd” a while back on the blog and this film had been hyped up for quite a while. I can see why people enjoyed this film so much. It’s a pleasant enough movie and while the silence caught me off guard for a second, I quickly adjusted to what was happening. The film handled the plots pretty well and it’s a title that I can recommend to all viewers.
Spirit grew up in a nice crew of horses and grew up to be a strong stallion. He became the leader of the pack and protected it from wild cats and all other threats. Unfortunately, that’s when the settlers came and Spirit distracted them long enough for his family to get away. The army tried their best to break Spirit, but he wasn’t having any of that. He would have his freedom and then one day he would find his family. He meets another horse along the way along with an Indian and together they try to stop the oppressors.
The cast here is pretty small since the film mostly focuses on the main horse. Spirit is as good a lead as you are likely to find anywhere. He absolutely refuses to be tamed by the villains and never stops trying to get home. He helps out as many people as he can along the way and comes across as very noble. He is quite mischievous as well and likes to mess with Little Creek, but always gets serious when the need arises. He is able to communicate his actions rather well considering that he never speaks and is also quite resilient. Spirit doesn’t lose his nerve even after being kept without food and water for 3 days. He defeats the Colonel in the end and shows why he really is the King of his herd.
Little Creek helped Spirit escape from the army and that’s how the two became friends. He seems like a nice enough guy. Little Creek doesn’t mind Spirit’s antics all that much and just goes with the flow. His tribe gives the horses a lot of freedom so it’s a great improvement from the army conditions. Rain is a horse that Spirit meets during his time with the tribe and they get along pretty well. At first, she doesn’t want to leave with Spirit, but after he helps save the tribe, she decides that it is time to go. She’s a pretty tough horse herself and has personality, making her a solid fighter to have in the pack. Finally, there’s the Colonel. He has a lot of self confidence and believes that he can tame any horse. Well, he soon realizes that this is not really the case. He’s described as a snake although he’s not nearly as bad as you would expect from that. He’s certainly more drastic than the other soldiers though since most of them were being as nice as they could be under the circumstances. In a way, you could say that Spirit tamed the Colonel in the end. I’m sure that the guy will be a lot more careful when he meets another horse.
The animation was pretty good and holds up well to this day. The character designs for the Horses look really good. They come across as strong and athletic which is certainly very important in a design. The environments and backdrops all look good as well and the flame effects were handled well. There are a lot of songs in this movie as well. They may not be the most catchy themes out there, but they get the job done. It adds some more emotional value to the film, which is always appreciated.
I also have to give the film some props for avoiding any major animal violence. Lets face it, you sort of expect some dicey moments to occur in any film about animals. When Rain was injured, it was a little concerning although I figured she would be okay. Luckily, none of the Horses got shot and Spirit did a good job of stopping all of the Army attacks. A lesser film would have had the hot iron actually hit Spirit and I’m glad that didn’t happen. I can’t give the whole army montage enough credit, it was really handled to perfection with how Spirit persevered. Since the whole film’s point is about how Spirit is a stallion who cannot be tamed, it was necessary to get the point across. Agent Carter could learn a thing or two from this.
It’s also impressive that the film was so good without almost any dialogue at all. I was fully expecting the Horses to talk the whole time, but they never did so it gradually sunk in that they weren’t going to. It was a rather bold move and one that could have easily backfired, but the film was able to handle it really well. It also had a very good ending, the kind of uplifting climax that I would like to see more often. You don’t need an ending that is kind of sad or mellow to try and win some Oscars. A very happy, satisfying ending will work every time and that’s what happens here. The film had its tension and dangerous situations, but managed to wrap them all up in time for the ending. It’s the gold standard for animal films and if they were all like this, I’d actually be glad to have more. It’s just that for ever Spirit, there are 100 Lassie or Watership Down kind of titles.
It was interesting to see the U.S. appear as the villains this time around. They ran around destroying Indian villages and enslaving Horses and the film never portrayed them as anything but antagonists. I prefer to see America taking the limelight as the heroes of history, but I suppose it’s good to see things from the other side once in a while. After all, not even America can be the good guys every single time right? I was definitely rooting for them to lose this time since they didn’t give the Horses the freedom that they deserved. It’s hard to say what the best part of the film was here. I liked the beginning with Spirit protecting the herd and just wandering around, but I also liked seeing him humiliate the army. No parts of the film are actually bad though and they just range from good to very good. It’s a pretty good sign in a film.
Overall, Spirit was a very solid film and maybe even a little better than I was expecting it to be. It’s a fundamentally sound film from top to bottom. The writing was good, the characters were likable, the pacing was solid, and it had a good ending. It is really filled with only positives around the board and I certainly enjoyed it a lot. It may not be a film for everyone, but if you like Horses or enjoy a good adventure, then you should check it out. It has some action and wit to coincide with the good plot and that’s a winning formula. I was even tempted to give this an 8, but while it doesn’t make any mistakes, it’s just hard to get quite that high without some extra kick of some sort. It’s a very fun film of course, but an 8 is usually something that I could instantly re watch. Usually that is due to cool fight scenes or something or that nature and I’d want to wait a little while before re watching this film. If I allowed half numbers like a 7.5, then this would probably have earned that extra spot. Regardless, this is definitely a solid film to check out. With Netflix getting a sequel series soon, it’ll be interesting to see if it can compete with this movie. It’ll be tough to do, but there’s always a chance.