This film was great. Probably the most underrated movie of the year. I never cared much about animated movies but after seeing this one by chance i was blown away. The visuals were stunning and captured the American west like no other film i can remember. Every inch of the landscape is rendered to absolute perfection. The characters, while cartoony, were also rendered nicely. Their facial expressions, combined with a gorgeous score and environment, are what told this story.
The story line is familiar, but fresh (think Lion King meets Homeward Bound). There are alot of good lessons to be learned for younger viewers... the importance of family, friendship and 'making your mark' in life. Overcoming your fears was a huge theme in the film..
There was one scene in particular that had very little dialogue but was perhaps the most beautiful piece of cinema ive seen all year. Im not an emotional person by any stretch, but it nearly had me bawling.
There's alot of negative reviews saying this film was "too serious" or too "scary" for kids... Those reviews are more a reflection of a generation of over-protective parents who want their kids to grow up in a bubble than they are a reflection of the quality of this film. It is rated PG, and as such, there are some scenes that might be intense for kids under 7, but to be honest, most kids under 7 wont appreciate the best parts of movie anyways. Rest assured, there's nothing in this movie that wasn't in Bambi or Land Before Time.
Not every movie is supposed to be silly. A good film invokes every emotion... which this one does brilliantly. Just because it made people cry, shouldn't make it a bad film. . If your kids find animals preying on other animals too offensive, then at worst it provides a good opportunity for mom or dad to talk about what happens in nature... In fact the film provides a great opportunity to create discussion on lots of topics... death, family, nature, friendship...that sometimes its good to cry... though based on other reviews it seems like parents now would rather never talk to their kids about those things at all and just hope they never have to deal with it... Id rather my kids watch this and take some meaning from it, then some dumbed down movie about talking cars or a Michael Bay explosion fest.