"Spirit Untamed" a surprisingly fun family film

This image shows a scene from "Spirit Untamed."

“Spirit Untamed” is a pleasant surprise. The wonderfully fast-paced family film features a strong voice cast and some beautiful animation.

The film, an extension of sort of 2002’s “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron,” centers on the bond between a wild mustang and a young girl named Lucky (voiced by Isabela Merced).

As the film begins, we see Lucky as an infant, with her mom (Eiza González) a horse-riding stunt performer in a small Western town. When Lucky’s mom dies during a riding accident, her father Jim (voiced by Jake Gyllenhaal) sends Lucky away to live with relatives.

Flash forward a few years later, and Lucky heads back to her hometown under the watchful eye of her aunt Cora (voiced by Julianne Moore). Her return home is at first uneventful, but when Lucky connects with a wild mustang named Spirit it sends her on a journey of self-discovery. She reconnects with her father while learning more about her late mother.

This is essentially an old-school Western in animated form. From the opening scene, the film captures a wonderful energy that continues throughout the film. Elaine Bogan and co-director Ennio Torresan capture the essence of the locale with Robert Crawford Edwards cinematography quite mesmerizing.

The voice work is outstanding as well with everyone perfectly cast.

Merced, who played Dora in the live action film, is a really good heroine. Gyllenhaal and Moore perfectly capture their respective roles as well

The film also features McKenna Grace and Marsai Martin as girls who befriend Lucky – resulting in some fun moments of animated girl power.

And then there is the great Walter Goggins – totally in his element as a shady cowboy who wants Spirit for himself. Goggins is his usual reliable self as the film’s villain, and you can tell just from his voice work that he had a blast being the heavy.

That’s basically the feeling throughout “Spirit Untamed.” The film has this infectious fun throughout with a touch of heart that doesn’t try to get too overly sentimental.

I admit I entered “Spirit Untamed” with rather low expectations, but it easily exceeded that low bar.

This is a delightful little film that the whole family will enjoy.