Black Beauty (2020)

Disney + brought back one of the classic animal tales for a live action movie on their streaming service. Black Beauty was a novel from Anna Sewell in 1877. It became arguably the most well-known and beloved horse story ever. It had been adapted into several formats over the years prior to the arrival of this new film. Directed and adapted by Ashley Avis, this feels like the perfect kind of IP for Disney +.

Unfortunately, I found this version of Black Beauty to be overtly melodramatic and silly.

The wild stallion was caught and brought to John Manly’s (Iain Glen) Birtwick Stables. The horse seemed to be unbreakable. When John’s niece Jo (Mackenzie Foy) comes to stay with him after her parents died, she created a bond with the horse and named her Beauty.

The film started off immediately causing me to check out when I realized that there was a voice over by Kate Winslet and she was supposed to be the thoughts of the horse. I felt like I was in a Disneynature movie. The voice spoke like a human and told the story. What Beauty knew was never really explained nor did it matter that a horse would not know the vocabulary required. This did not start the film off well for me.

Then there was so much melodrama involved in the movie that I could barely stand it. Just about every type of plot contrivance that could appear, does. There is the fire, the mean girls, the money problems, the injured horse, the horse out saving people’s lives etc. There was just too many of these masquerading as plot. It was also quite manipulative film as there was no doubt that they were trying to play on the audience’s emotions. It all felt pretty fake to me.

While I found Mackenzie Foy a lovely presence on film, her character was not developed to the point it could have been. The early part of the movie tried to give Jo some character traits, but it was all surface area. She just became the kind hearted girl who bonded with the horse.

The film looked good and was shot well. I think it was too long and needed more of a edit.

This again may be a decent family film to entertain the children, but I did not enjoy it much.

2.35 stars

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