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Elaine Bogan
Isabela Merced, Julianne Moore, Jake Gyllenhaal
Writing Credits:
Aury Wallington, Kristin Hahn

Lucky Prescott's life is changed forever when she moves from her home in the city to a small frontier town and befriends a wild mustang named Spirit.

Rated PG.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English DVS
Spanish DTS 7.1
French DTS 7.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 88 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 8/31/2021

• Audio Commentary with Director Elaine Bogan, Co-Director Ennio Torresan and Producer Karen Foster
• “Finding Your Spirit” Featurette
• “Home on the Range” Featurette
• “Snack Time” Featurette
• Deleted/Extended Scenes
• “Behind the Voices” Featurette
• “Cowgirls Rule” Featurette
• “Drawing Spirit” Featurette
• “How To” Featurette
• Sing-Alongs
• Previews
• DVD Copy


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Spirit Untamed [Blu-Ray] (2021)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 25, 2021)

Back in 2002, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron found a fairly modest audience, as the animated adventure pulled in a relatively blah $122 million at the worldwide box office. Unsurprisingly, this meant DreamWorks didn’t pursue a sequel.

However, 2017 brought a TV spinoff called Spirit Riding Free, and that project prompted the series to return to the big screen. This occurred via another spinoff, 2021’s Spirit Untamed.

Set in the Old West, young Fortuna “Lucky” Prescott (voiced by Isabela Merced) goes to live with her extended family after the tragic death of her mother Milagro (Eiza González). The freewheeling Lucky causes trouble one too many times, though, and winds up reunited with her estranged father Jim (Jake Gyllenhaal) in the remote town of Miradero.

Lucky soon meets a wild horse named Spirit and develops a bond with him. When wranglers threaten Spirit and his herd, Lucky and friends attempt to leap to the rescue.

When I went into the 2002 Spirit, I expected a fluffy, insubstantial, cutesy film that pandered to the little girl crowd. To my surprise, it offered a pretty robust mix of drama and adventure.

When I went into Untamed, I expected a fluffy, insubstantial, cutesy film that pandered to the little girl crowd. And I got it.

Though I never saw the Riding Free TV series, I suspect Untamed plays like an extended program. Not much about it comes across like anything more than a pilot episode.

Well, we do find a few prominent film actors here, what with González and Gyllenhaal as well as Julianne Moore, Andre Braugher and Walton Goggins, among others. Granted, the TV show included some “names” like Tony Hale, Thomas Lennon and Jane Lynch, but Untamed boasts a smidgen more star power.

Nonetheless, Untamed delivers a fairly generic experience, one that the actors can’t elevate. This feels like a paycheck movie, one that the performers could do with little fuss or effort.

Not that other aspects of Untamed exhibit a whole lot of apparent effort either. The screenplay indulges in standard clichés, as not a single character or plot point seems creative or memorable.

The animation looks bargain basement. Every organic element looks plastic, and backgrounds seem undetailed and flat. Again, the production values tend to seem TV-level, not what ypu’d expect from a feature film.

I wouldn’t feel surprised to learn that Untamed began life as a direct to video project that Universal simply shifted to theaters to fill screens in a pandemic-depleted period. Nothing about it “feels theatrical”, as it winds up as a cheap, forgettable animated adventure.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B-

Spirit Untamed appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Computer animated flicks usually look good on Blu-ray, and that trend continued with Untamed.

Sharpness appeared largely solid. A few wider shots could feel a bit soft, but most of the movie appeared crisp and well-defined.

Jagged edges and shimmering appeared absent, and I noticed no signs of edge enhancement. In addition, the movie suffered from no source flaws.

Unamed featured a somewhat teal and amber influenced palette, but the hues opened up when necessary. The Blu-ray replicated them in an appropriate manner with good clarity.

Blacks also appeared deep and tight, while low-light shots were clean and smooth. This was a consistently positive picture.

I also liked the DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack of Untamed. Much of the movie favored the front channels, but the mix opened up well when appropriate.

All the animal escapades gave us some sonic activity, and the soundfield matched the film nicely. Music always demonstrated positive stereo imaging, and the effects created a realistic and involving sense of atmosphere. When the action heated up, the surrounds added a fine layer of material.

Audio quality seemed positive. Dialogue always came across as natural and warm, and I detected no concerns related to edginess or intelligibility.

Music appeared bright and dynamic, with concise highs and rich lows. Effects also were tight and realistic. Untamed comes with a surprisingly long assortment of extras, and these open with an audio commenary from director Elaine Bogan, co-director Ennio Torresan and producer Karen Foster. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/characters, cast and performances, art, visual design and animation, music, and connected topics.

Though it comes with the requisite amount of praise for those involved with the project, the commentary nonetheless offers a pretty good look at the film. Nothing especially memorable occurs but we find a more than competent and enjoyable overview.

A few featurettes follow, and Finding Your Spirit runs nine minutes, 20 seconds. It brings comments from Torresan, Bogan, Foster, co-writers Kristen Hahn and Aury Wallington, composer Amie Doherty and actors Jake Gyllenhaal, Walton Goggins, Eiza González, Isabela Merced, Julianne Moore, Marsai Martin, and Mckenna Grace.

“Spirit” looks at story, characters, themes and music. Expect lots of happy talk and very little real informative content.

Home on the Range lasts three minutes, 20 seconds and provides Grace as she croons a version of that song with lyrics adapted to suit Untamed. This never becomes interesting.

Next comes Snack Time, a two-minute, 18-second piece that features Merced, Martin and an unnamed narrator who teach us how to make S’mores. This isn’t a complicated recipe, but maybe kids will find it worthwhile.

We find three Deleted/Extended Scenes, each of which comes with introductions from Bogan, Torresan, Foster and storyboard artist Daniel Tal. We locate “Campaign Launch – Extended” (1:46), “Bubbles” (1:25) and “Elk Stampede” (3:49).

The scenes tend to be fairly forgettable and don’t feel like they’d have added to the film. The intros explain why the sequences got cut.

Behind the Voices splits into eight segments with a total running time of nine minutes, 59 seconds. Across these, we hear from Merced, Martin, Grace, Goggins, González, Gyllenhaal, Moore, Bogan, Foster, and actor Andre Braugher.

“Voices” discusses cast, characters and performances. We don’t really get much more than happy talk.

With Cowgirls Rule, we find a four-minute, 16-second featurette that offers notes from González, Grace, Moore, Hahn, Merced, Torresan, Wallington, Foster, Bogan, Martin and Doherty. “Rule” looks at the relationship among the movie’s emphasis on females, and it becomes another piece without much real informational value.

Drawing Spirit breaks into six reels and goes for a total of 15 minutes, 38 seconds. Via these, story artist Wendy Sullivan teaches us how to draw six movie characters. Kids might enjoy this instructional compilation.

In the same vein, How To offer five tutorials. Oddly, it repeats the “Snack Time” clip from earlier, but it also brings “Create Your Own Indoor ‘Campfire’” (2:11), “How to Ukulele” (2:20), “Abigail’s Hand Shadow Secrets” (2:42) and “How to Zoetrope” (6:00).

Across these, we hear from Merced, Martin, Grace, and that still unnamed narrator, who I feel bad for because she does all the heavy lifting. Again, kids may enjoy these features.

Finally, we get Sing-Alongs for four tracks: “Fearless” (English Version), “Fearless” (Valiente Duet”, “You Belong” and a repeat of the earlier “Home on the Range”.

Of course, Grace appears for “Range”, but the other three offer standard mixes of movie clips, on-screen lyrics, recording studio footage and the respective songs. All seem forgettable.

The disc opens with ads for Dream Horse and Gabby’s Doll House. No trailer for Untamed appears here.

A second disc brings a DVD copy of Untamed. It provides the same extras as the Blu-ray.

Though I liked 2002’s Spirit: Stallion of the Cimmaron, 2021’s spinoff Spirit Untamed offers a sub-mediocre tale. Uninspired, dull and generic, the movie lacks any sense of adventure or drama. The Blu-ray brings very good picture and audio along with a long but often forgettable roster of bonus features. This becomes tired kiddie fare.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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