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EDITIONS
Friday, 5 July, 2002, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
Dreamworks' Spirit limps home
Spirit is narrated by Matt Damon
The cute horses may attract some young viewers

It is notable that traditional 2-D animation has declined in popularity since the rise of computer animation, with the likes of Monsters Inc and Shrek achieving box office supremacy over cartoon rivals such as Atlantis and The Road To Eldorado.

While the novelty value of such technologically friendly movies has undoubtedly contributed to their success, 2-D animation has suffered of late, largely because the stories just are not good enough.

Such is the case with Spirit - and although the animators have pulled out all the stops to produce a movie which looks every bit as impressive as its three-dimensional cousins, the film itself is about as dull as it is possible to be.

Matt Damon
The film avoids the animation staple of talking animals
Spirit, as the title suggests, is a wild horse who is voiced by Matt Damon - but as narrator only, for this serious story avoids the usual animation staple of talking animals.

He is destined to lead his herd - but disaster strikes when he is captured by humans determined to rid him of his wild ways.

Our equine hero escapes and is "adopted" by a kindly native American, learns that not all two-legged creatures are evil, and finds true love in the shape of Rain, a beautiful mare belonging to his new master. But further trouble is not far off.

While it is perfectly laudable to try and make a children's film which offers something a bit more serious and thought-provoking than usual, it is another thing entirely to make one which will bore its young audience rigid.

For this is hard-going even for grown-up cinemagoers - the storyline is pompous and portentous and there is almost nothing in the way of laughs or light relief.

Spirit is adopted
Black Beauty may be the better option
The script is shamelessly derivative of almost every clichéd film or TV show that has ever been written from a horse's point of view - generally the ones where horses inexplicably view humans as monstrous creatures that are up to no good.

Several long stretches, free of dialogue but set entirely to Bryan Adams's soundtrack, do little to help matters.

Although the cute horses may attract some young viewers, it is hard to see this having much appeal to junior audiences raised on a diet of colourful monsters, talking toys and green ogres.

The amount of fidgety kids spotted at the film's preview screening suggests that Spirit is destined to barely limp past the first furlong at the box office.

Save your pennies, stay home and watch some old episodes of Black Beauty instead.

Spirit: Stallion Of The Cimmaron is in cinemas from Friday 5 July

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Spirit
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See also:

18 May 02 | Entertainment
08 Feb 02 | Entertainment
27 Jan 02 | Entertainment
29 Jun 01 | Oscars 2002
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