"Spirit Untamed" Review Roundup: Horse Adventure offers moderate entertainment, no surprises

Spirit Untamed, the latest equine drama in Dreamworks's Wild West franchise, comes out exclusively in theatres tomorrow - one of the only big-studio animated feature to do so in the pandemic so far.

This may be the most striking thing about Spirit Untamed: reviews have noted its lack of originality in the visual and narrative departments. Many point out that the film remixes story elements from the opening episodes of the popular Netflix series on which it's based, Spirit Riding Free. (Spirit Untamed mostly takes its cues from the show, not 2002's 2d feature Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, which launched the franchise.)

Spirit Untamed is directed by Elaine Bogan (Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia, 3 Below: Tales of Arcadia, Dragons: Race to the Edge) and co-directed by Ennio Torresan (head of story, The Boss Baby). The screenplay is by Aury Wallington and Kristin Hahn. As with its 2017 feature Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, Dreamworks outsourced the animation to a lower-cost studio - in this case, London's Jellyfish Pictures. The film is released by Universal.

At the time of writing, the film's critic score on Rotten Tomatoes is 40%. Here's what the reviewers are saying:

Awarding the film a C+ grade in Indiewire, Kate Erbland questions the film's decision to hew closely to the series:

Peter Debruge takes issue with the film's visuals in his Variety review, regretting Dreamworks' decision to outsource the animation:

In the Los Angeles Times, Katie Walsh celebrates the abundance of female talent behind the film, before adding:

Lovia Gyarkye looks at representation in Spirit Untamed from another angle, and finds the film wanting, as she writes in The Hollywood Reporter:

The film reminds Forbes's Scott Mendelson of Dreamworks' early days, before it doubled down on “frantic, pop culture-infused” comedies like Shrek: