Review: ‘The Mustangs: America’s Wild Horses’ lacks the requisite horsepower

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For a documentary referred to as “The Mustangs: America’s Wild Horses,” co-directors Steven Latham and Conrad Stanley take a decidedly tame take a look at the previous and current of our nation’s wild horse inhabitants, which is at the moment estimated at almost 90,000.

Though the movie doesn’t draw back from among the traditionally tougher truths in regards to the remedy and fates of the mustangs which have roamed the Western U.S. for hundreds of years, it presents its details in such a largely light, uplifting bundle that it’s laborious to get too charged up in regards to the points at hand.

Higher, it appears, to take a seat again and take within the majesty of our equine mates and the attractive open areas they name house and respect the animals’ many kindly, stalwart advocates who assist inform their tales.

All this by the use of saying that “Mustangs,” which was shot in California, Wyoming, Texas, Colorado and elsewhere, is a beautiful, important portrait that’s additionally a bit boring. It generally feels extra like a promotional movie than penetrating documentary.

A number of starry names are connected right here, together with govt producers Robert Redford (he narrates the opening and shut), singer Patti Scialfa Springsteen and daughter Jessica Springsteen; and co-producer Diane Warren, the prolific songwriter whose “By no means Gonna Tame You” is carried out right here by Blanco Brown. Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris additionally sing equine-centric tunes over lyrical montages.

However it’s the lesser-known of us — horse trainers, animal activists, wildlife photographers — who’ve probably the most to say in regards to the mustangs’ place on the earth, with writer David Phillips (“Wild Horse Nation”) providing earnest, insightful commentary through a prolonged interview woven all through the movie.

Such important help teams as Operation Wild Horse, the Mustang Heritage Basis, the Wyoming Wild Horse and Burro Program, and SWAT (Sand Wash Basin Wild Horse Advocate Staff) get their close-ups as we study in regards to the varied actions that cut back mustang inhabitants development, pair soul-healing horses with PTSD-affected veterans and put together mustangs for adoption or buy.

One other inspiring sequence spotlights the late Velma “Wild Horse Annie” Johnston, a longtime mustang activist whose galvanizing efforts led to the passage of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act. The landmark ecological measure, which protected wild horses and burros on designated federal lands, was signed into regulation by then-President Richard Nixon. (Sure, he did.)

Latham, who additionally produced, and Stanley, who additionally served as editor, embrace memorable bits of archival footage and classic pictures that assist remind us how lengthy the mustangs have been an integral image of American freedom and independence — to not point out the namesake of a game-changing sports car.

‘The Mustangs: America’s Wild Horses’

Not rated

Operating time: 1 hour, half-hour.

Taking part in: Begins Oct. 15, Laemmle Monica, Santa Monica; Laemmle Newhall, Santa Clarita

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