Review by Dan Skip Allen
Movies about animals have been constant in Hollywood for many decades and Disney is a company that has done many of them themselves. Animal movies, specifically dog movies, have been the type of films Disney could get families to watch. Disney has even branched out into horse movies as well. Black Beauty is one that has been made a few times over the years. This is the fourth rendition of the Anna Sewell novel for the screen.
This version is a modern-day retelling of the story. Set in the present day. Beauty (voiced by Kate Winslet) was born out in the wild before she was captured and separated from her mother. She lived at Birtwick Stables for a while. She meets a young girl named Jo (Mackenzie Foy). The two develop a friendship after Jo has survived a family tragedy. Along with John (Iain Glen, Game of Thrones), they have a good life together. That life wouldn't last for long.
Black Beauty has been adapted to the screen before. Each version has its own tone and feels to it. In this version, Beauty is a Phillie. In the previous versions, the horse is a stallion. Alan Cumming voiced Beauty in the 1994 version. Kate Winslet does a great job as the voice of Beauty. She brings grace and elegance to the character of Beauty. Horses have these characteristics already, so it was very cool that Winslet embodied them in her voiceover.
Ashley Avis produced, wrote, and directed this film. She came from the right place with her designation of the characters and locations portrayed in the film. She got some great people to work with her to get the right feel and esthetic of the movie. Cinematographer David Proctor has done an incredible job with his camera work. The vistas he captured were astounding to behold. This was a beautiful film to watch. The score by Guillaume Roussel was subtle but very effective in many of the more touching moments involving Beauty.
All in all, the 2020 version of Black Beauty was very good. It had an incredible story, beautiful cinematography, and a wonderful score to listen to. Avis made a film many people will like and Disney was the perfect home for this adaption of this story. They are by all intents and purposes the home of a good family fair. People know if it has Disney on the tag that they can watch it with their kids and elders alike. This film is one of those films. This holiday season the country needs a good-hearted family film to sit down and share.
Black Beauty is now streaming on Disney+.