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An inspiring movie for young, old and everyone in between, I would be shocked if the movie’s final moments didn’t lead to a cathartic cry for every viewer. The beauty of this story is timeless.
As Avis softly underlines, not everything has changed for man’s servants. And although we know the beats of this story, it’s a classic for a reason: Disney+’s Black Beauty gives a great yarn a good exercise.
Sewell’s book has always been a better fit for piecemeal storytelling — the book itself is divided up by Beauty’s owners — and while Avis’ script does keep the relationship between Beauty and Jo at its center, that lends an uneven treatment to many of Beauty’s later adventures.
With its obvious melodrama, obviously misleading “locations” and even more obvious big stunts, Black Beauty doesn’t transcend its sentimental children’s entertainment origins. But Avis more than does the novel justice.
New York Post
This is a Disney adaptation, beautiful but frequently treacly.
Black Beauty gives the original Victorian novel a significant makeover, a contemporary remake that relocates the story to the American West. The movie delivers a more pointed animal-rights message, but while its equine star fares well enough, the two-footed characters never really get out of the starting gate.
The New York Times
Avis loses the novel’s sincerity by watering down Sewell’s animal welfare plea. In this update, the humans are not as villainous. Beauty is not as prominent. And the novel’s mustang spirit diminishes into a ho-hum horse movie.
While much of this Black Beauty strays from the original, the spirit of empathy and combatting animal cruelty remain intact.
In a story that could have offered a parade of vivid character roles, only Foy and Glen really register: a kindly park ranger (Hakeem Kae-Kazim) deserved more screen time, while the various surly faces on the Manhattan carriage-toting scene are only thinly defined.
The Hollywood Reporter
While the muted performances might have benefitted from the occasional more emotionally rooted response and the South Africa locations don’t quite convincingly double for John Ford country, it’s the inertness that ultimately stops Black Beauty in its tracks.
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