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BMZ Review: The Young Black Stallion
By Dave Lewis

 

The Young Black Stallion
Written by: Dave Lewis
Source: Big Movie Zone
Date: December 26, 2003

     

Category: Reviews

In addition to being a prequel to 1979's beloved family classic The Black Stallion, Disney's new big screen film The Young Black Stallion is also the studio's first dramatic film made specifically for the large screen. Shot in the African desert, the film takes full advantage of the large screen, but a stronger story and more drama would've made Young Black Stallion more than just mildly diverting eye candy.

YBS reunites the original film's producer, Fred Roos, with one of its co-writers, Jeanne Rosenberg. The narrative thread offers a look at the life of the Black Stallion before the timeframe of the original movie.

Orphaned in the African desert, the titular horse finds a friend in a little girl named Neera, who adopts the black beauty (against the will of her grandfather, played by Richard Romanus) and christens him Shetan.  Neera (disguised as a boy) then enters a dangerous horse race in order to save her grandfather's farm.

With a brief running time of around 45 minutes, YBS doesn't have a lot of time to develop a detailed storyline. However, perhaps due to the presence of big screen opportunities, many narrative aspects are sacrificed for the sake of the visuals.

Handsomely filmed by ace LF cinematographer Reed Smoot, YBS looks fabulous, and takes full advantage of the gorgeous African locales. Likewise, the climactic desert race is a feast for the eyes, and is technically impressive.

The fault lines, however, are all too evident in the script and the acting. The plot twists are derivative and director Simon Wincer (who's had plenty of experience with animals in films; his credits include Phar Lap and Free Willy) brings few new ideas to the table.

As Neera, newcomer Biana Tamimi displays excellent prowess on horseback, but limited ability in the area of dramatics. Likewise, Patrick Elyas, as Neera's worrisome brother, tends to deliver distractingly flat line readings.

Based on the final book in Walter Farley's long-lasting Black Stallion book series (it was co-written by his son, Steven), Young Black Stallion should entertain kids, but unfortunately seems more appropriate to home video than the large screen.

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Additional BMZ Reviews of The Young Black Stallion

The Young Black Stallion by Paula Tagle
Taking a Ride on the Big Screen by Ross Anthony

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