VOD film review: Unbranded
James R | On 27, Nov 2015
Director: Phillip Baribeau
Cast: Ben Masters, Thomas Glover, Jonny Fitzsimons, Ben Thamer
Watch Unbranded online in the UK: Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Apple TV (iTunes) / Google Play
“Ain’t nothing better than riding a fine horse into a new country”, declares the title card at the start of Unbranded.
The Kickstarter-funded documentary follows four cowboy friends – Ben Masters, Thomas Glover, Jonny Fitzsimons and Ben Thamer – as they ride 3,000 miles from Mexico to Canada on horseback. Their journey takes them through some of the most beautiful landscapes you’ll see on the big screen this year, from the Grand Canyon to Yellowstone and Glacier National Park. Shot by Phillip Baribeau with all the epic scale of a classic Western, the frontier has rarely looked so fine.
The group generally pull together through the tough conditions, which doesn’t make for the most gripping viewing – an ongoing commentary about the rights and preservation of Wild mustangs in the US will prove intriguing for equine aficionados.
Only when the final mile of the journey arrives do things become interesting, as the difference in endurance between man and mustang rears it head – but what is an undeniably testing journey for the animals doesn’t always avoid the same sensation for the audience. The result is a stunning piece of film showcasing the joy of riding a horse into uncharted territory, but not much more. If that’s all this film set out to achieve (a portion of any proceeds will commendably go to the Mustang Heritage Foundation), then it can saddle up with pride.