Disney's first attempt at a large-format fiction film (the studio had previously offered IMAX versions of some of its animated efforts, as well as James Cameron's doc, "Ghosts of the Abyss"), "Young Black Stallion" is only a decent attempt - it has some things going for it, but, for an IMAX feature, it doesn't exactly have the scope one might expect...nor the acting.
Apparently a prequel (or something) in regards to the original film, "Young Black Stallion" stars Biana Tamimi as Neera, a girl who finds herself stranded in the desert after some bad guys attack her and her grandfather. She stumbles upon a beautiful black stallion during her travels and, although there's a few moments of hesitation, the horse eventually takes to the young girl, and follows her until she reaches a house, where the horse bolts. A horse expert, she wails, "No, wait! Come back!".
When she finds out about a race across the desert that could get her a big reward if she wins, she enters with her newfound horse. The story is pretty thin (even at about 50 minutes, there still seemed to be some filler), and even worse is the acting, which seems awfully wooden. Apparently the dialogue has been re-recorded (sounds that way, although I can't confirm), and if so, it was done quite poorly - not only is what's written awful, but the looping is so obvious that it really calls attention to itself. What really surprised me was the visuals: for an IMAX movie, the visuals seem pretty tightly focused and only occasionally made an effective attempt to capture the scope of the impressive locations.
Overall, fans of the original film will likely be disappointed by this dull and unintentionally silly large-format effort.
VIDEO: "Young Black Stallion" is presented by Disney in 1.33:1 pan & scan and 1.78:1 THX-certified anamorphic widescreen. The anamorphic widescreen presentation was generally excellent, although it was a bit inconsistent at times. Some wide shots looked slightly soft, but otherwise, the image remained crisp and well-defined, with fine details often visible.
Some minor shimmering and edge enhancement were present, and some shots appeared slightly grainy. However, the print appeared to be in fine condition, with no dirt or wear. There was also no pixelation. Colors appeared bold and vivid, with nice saturation and no smearing.
SOUND: "Young Black Stallion" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's soundtrack was fairly conventional, as the majority of the audio was spread across the front speakers. Surrounds were brought into the mix on a few occasions for some minor reinforcement of the score and some scattered sound effects/ambience. Audio quality was fine, if not noteworthy - the real issue was the apparent dubbing of the dialogue, which was awful.
EXTRAS: The main supplements are a group of featurettes: "Finding Biana", "Shooting in Namibia", "Building the Casbah", "A Story in IMAX" and "Taming the Stallions". There's also a "read-along" and a new 15-minute bonus story, "The Sire".
Final Thoughts: "Young Black Stallion" offers a familiar, often dull story. The acting remained mediocre, the dialogue (and dubbing) terrible and the visuals less spectacular than they should have been. Disney's DVD edition offers fine audio/video quality and a few minor supplements. Skip it.