My Opinion right after watching movie
My opinion after watching the movie is that it is good; not great, but good. The story though a bit slow-paced is great, but the characters are not really that developed except for the main character, but that is because it is entirely from Spirit’s point of view. It’s a nice film.
Production for this film started in 1998, and took 4 years to create. Apparently, Tom Hanks and Robert Redford were considered for the narration of Spirit, but ultimately given to Matt Damon. The creators were extremely happy with what they did with mixing traditional animation and CGI, calling it “tradigital animation”. Like the Animation Lookback said, they were not the first to do it. To be honest, they were one of the last.
They brought horses to the studio to study them, and Spirit was based on a 3-year-old stallion named Donner. They also recorded the horses to voice and to make sound for the other horses in the film. The crew also went to the western U.S. for inspiration and to draw some drafts. They hired John Fusco who was very knowledged to Western and Native American history, and he worked side by side with Katzenberg the entire production.
The animation team that worked on this movie worked on Shrek 2, which is easily seen in the horses in that film.
The film starts with an eagle (who represents spirit (character and all)) flying over 19th century western U.S.
And the film is being narrated by Spirit (Matt Damon). I don’t know if he is narrating it in his mind or to someone; we never find out. Anyways, we see Ezperanza giving birth to a Kiger Stallion called Spirit. There is a montage where he grows up and we learn he is carefree, wild and reckless and has little to no responsibility and is all about fun.
He is now the leader of the herd and is to protect them. He sees a weird sight (a bunch of tents) and decides to check it out. When he approaches the site, the horses warn him to leave, but he ignores them. He accidentally wakes up a few humans and they watch him.
He accidentally kisses the man and they all wake up. He runs off with a smirk as they chase him so they can being him to the U.S. calvary. They eventually capture him
We are introduced to our villain The Colonel (James Cormwell) who tries to tame Spirit with a bun ch of other men, and fails. This makes for some funny atypical slapstick humor.
They cut off his beautiful hair and put a mark on him. As they try to train him, he hits the men and tries to leave every single time up to the point where the Colonel tells them to tie him up without food or water for 3 days.
The next day, a Lakota Native American named Little Creek (Daniel Studi) joins Spirit to the post because he refused to answer the Colonel’s questions about his people. Spirit and the boy grow a weird fondness for one another and Colonel decides to take a ride on Spirit to see if he learned his lesson. The horse almost gave up, until this happens
Little Creek cuts the rope that he was tied to, hopped on Spirit, and the two made a grande escape, freeing the other horses as well. They go back to his people and Little Creek tries to tame him with niceness, but Spirit knew he was doing the same thing the Europeans were but a different approach and refused to be ridden.
Rain told him in horse “what the hell are you doing”, and the boy ties the two horses together, so she can teach him some manners.
So he fell in love with the culture of the Lakota people and horses, while developing a bond with Little Creek. While he is friends with the boy and in love with Rain, he still wants to be free and this is evident when Little Creek tries to ride him again but he refuses with a horse laugh, so he sets the horse free. He asks Rain to come with her, but she refuses.
As soon as this happens, The Colonel and his men ransack the village, and start a battle, which is supposed to be the Battle of Washita River taken place in November 27, 1868. Rain ends up shot. After saving Little Creek’s life from Colonel, him and Rain fall in the river, and Spirit attempts to save her but fails, as they both fall down the waterfall.
Him and Rain arrive on land and he stays with the “dying” Rain, but the men find him and pull him from her so him and a bunch of other horses can be used for railroad construction. Little Creek promises to save him for what the horse did for him.
Him and a bunch of horses are on a train to the construction site, and they are being used to pull the train on the railroad. He soon realizes that this train will go right through where his home area is and fakes being hurt. After they release him, he sets all the horses free and the train starts to fall towards where Spirit is running.
The train crashes, causing a forest fire. His leash gets caught on the tree and he almost gets burned by the fire, but Creek who followed him saved him and the two escape from the forest fire. The next morning, Colonel and his men find them and then there is an epic chase. This goes on fr a while, but Colonel eventually lets them free.
So they return to the Lakota tribe that is being rebuilt, and find that Rain is alive and nursed back to help.
The three share a joyous moment before Creek sets them free and dubs Spirit “”Spirit-Who-Could-Not-Be-Broken”. They run to Spirit’s herd and they are greeted by his mother. Spirit narrates that he will never forget Little Creek. The two watch over the horses as the symbolic eagle flies over them.
The animation in this film is BEAUTIFUL and PERFECT. I already mentioned the “tradigital animation”, but not much else is known. The way the horses ans their hair moves is perfect and it moves so beautifully, and this film does not overuse CGI as much as The Prince of Egypt and The Road to El Dorado, but it was still overused compared to the amount WDAS used. The sometimes CGI backgrounds are pretty realistic and it blends really well.
The choice of music is very weird. It is kind of western, kind of soft 1980’s which can get distracting. The soundtrack was created by Hanz Zimmer and Bryan Adams. The songs are alright.
Reception at Release
This film was released in May 24th, 2002. On opening weekend, it opened at #4 behind Star Wars: Episode 2 – Attack of the Clones, Spider-man, and Insomnia, and it dropped to #5 on its second week. It closed on September 12, 2002 with $73,280,117 domestically and $49,283,422 overseas for a worldwide total of $122,563,539, with an $80 million budget. This was the time where traditionally animated films were just not cutting it. The Road to El Dorado flopped in 2000, Disney’s Atlantis: The Lost Empire barely made over its budget and flopped under marketing costs, and Disney’s Treasure Planet flopped as well. It does not help that two of these movies are not good, as most of the films released in the early 2000’s. This film has a big chance of flopping under marketing costs as well.
Critically, it has mixed-to-positive reviews, with it being praised for its beautiful animation, the action, and the fact that the animals do no talk. From what I have researched, people disliked it for being cliche, politically correct, and the fact that the characters are not really that developed.
When it comes to awards, it was nominated and won more than a few. It won an ASCAP, nominated for an Academy Award, won and nominated for 4 Annies each (for its animation), nominated for a Critic’s Choice Award, won a Genesis Award, a Kid’s Choice Award, and a bunch of others that would take too long to list.
Like the other traditionally animated DreamWorks films and non-franchises, it is largely forgotten about. It is praised for its animation, but it will not be known to the average person. Rain is the first animated horse to have an honorary registration certificate from the American Paint Horse Association.
Story = 7.5/10
Characters = 4/10
Music = 7/10
Animation = 9.5/10
Thank you all for reading and continue to read the series, and please comment.
- Dreamworks Review: Introduction (animatedkid.wordpress.com)
- DreamWorks Review: The Road to El Dorado (animatedkid.wordpress.com)
- DreamWorks Reviews: Chicken Run (animatedkid.wordpress.com)
- Dreamworks Review: The Prince of Egypt (animatedkid.wordpress.com)
- DreamWorks Review: Shrek (animatedkid.wordpress.com)
- Animated Kids Films Shortlist (raffertysrules.wordpress.com)
- Top Ten Animated Kids Movies (raffertysrules.wordpress.com)
- Book 4: Picture Book (ashleyaubart.wordpress.com)
- Obs, I did it again. (misscappi.wordpress.com)
14 thoughts on “DreamWorks Review: Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron”
I can’t remember this film…but I know that I didn’t like/enjoy it at all.
Robert Redford providing the narration…hmm…that actually seems interesting!
When did you last watch it? If you were younger, than I would not be shocked at all.
I do think Matt Damon was a weird choice, and there could have been a better choice. Thanks for commenting.
I was much younger when I saw it, and I really have no desire to give it a second chance, sadly.
I mentioned it before, I think, but with this movie, everything hinges on the narrator. Matt Damon is okay, but not inspiring. In some of the other dubbings, it’s way better.
I love the songs in this movie, but then, I really like Bryan Adams and Hans Zimmer music in general.
Yeah, I understand how it falls on the narrator, and Matt Damon’s voice is way too familiar and not inspiring, but of course DreamWorks wanted familiar.
The music is pretty good, but I agree with the Nostalgia Critic that it is kind of 80s and a bit distracting. This movie could have been a bit better, but there is not much I could really complain about. Thanks for commenting.
This film spawned a T.V. series on Netflix called Spirit Riding Free because maybe it made enough money on video so this film is not that forgotten about.