Pre-teen girls comprise the target audience for “Spirit Untamed,” a big-screen adaptation of the animated Netflix TV series “Spirit Riding Free.” Set in the 19th century American west, it tells the story of a young girl who befriends a wild Mustang stallion after she relocates to a small frontier town. They team up to thwart a group of shady wranglers who want to exploit the wild herd. There is nothing notable in the movie’s story or execution, but the voice cast is strong and the theme of female empowerment is prominent. While harmless, “Spirit Untamed” is for undemanding youngsters only.
A dysfunctional upper class American family is hunted by both wild animals and poachers when an African safari goes awry in the action thriller “Endangered Species.” Rebecca Romijn leads the cast in this iffy enterprise. While the scenery is spectacular and intentions pure, the CGI animals are a bit sketchy, and the family is so spoiled and annoying that you start rooting for the animals to take them out. Talk about making bad choices. In this movie, logic is the endangered species.
The road to the Outback is paved with good intentions in the low-key coming-of-age story, “Chasing Wonders.” A bright young Australian lad from a family of Spanish immigrants can’t seem to understand why his father is so cold and distant. The family dutifully tends their vineyard makes their wine, but never discuss the reasons dear old dad seems so troubled. This leisurely paced film takes its time to uncover the tragedy at the core of the family dynamic. While very sweet and lovingly filmed, “Chasing Wonders” never quite hits the emotional soft spot it was aiming for.
Your local art house theaters are offering online viewing options for a number of intriguing movie titles. More information is available at nelson-atkins.org, Screenland.com, fineartsgroup.com and drafthouse.com.