Young Black Stallion (review)

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Horsies! Pretty horsies! Pretty, pretty horsies! Running in the desert, with the dunes and the sunset and exotic mystery! In huge, glorious IMAX! In post-WWII Arabia, young Neera (Biana Tamimi) befriends a wild black colt she names Shetan, and with the help of her pal Aden (Patrick Elyas), she hopes to use the colt, whom only she can ride, to help rebuild her grandfather Ben Ishak’s (Richard Romanus) nearly defunct breeding and racing farm. With a slim story, even given its short 45-minute running time, and slight performances from its attractive but inexperienced preteen stars, this children’s film would have failed to involve either kids or parents if it had been presented on the little big screen. But blow it up to IMAX size, and suddenly director Simon Wincer and cinematographer Reed Smoot’s (ESPN’s Ultimate X) stunning imagery of the dangerous beauty of North Africa becomes the breathtaking star. The climactic horse race, upon which Neera has staked the future of her grandfather’s ranch, is a little wonder of drama and suspense. Though the outcome is in no doubt — of course Neera and Shetan will triumph, or else there’d never have been a Black Stallion for prequeling — the sequence is so exquisitely staged and so magnificently photographed that you’ll be swept away by it; I was in such suspense during it and so flooded with palpable relief when it came to its proper ending that I had no choice but to burst into tears at its simple, grand splendor.

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