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MGM Studios DVD presents
Virginia's Run (2002)

"Wait for the final stretch, then you can run this nag into the ground if you have to."
- Blake Raines (Robert Miranda)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: March 01, 2005

Stars: Gabriel Byrne, Joanne Whalley, Lindze Letherman, Kevin Zegers, Rachel Skarsten
Other Stars: Robert Miranda, Jeremy Akerman, Robb Wells, Thomas Gibson, John Paul Tremblay, Jessica Christie, Jocelyn Cunningham, John Dunsworth, Adrien Labrecque, Gary Levert, Lee Phillips, Celia Alida Rutte, Andrew Thomson
Director: Peter Markle

MPAA Rating: PG for reckless behaviour and language
Run Time: 01h:44m:49s
Release Date: March 01, 2005
UPC: 027616922724
Genre: family

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+B-A D

DVD Review

Written, produced, and directed by television director Peter Markle, Virginia's Run follows in the hoof prints of Black Beauty and National Velvet, as a modern take on the familiar horse movies of old.

Virginia Lofton (Lindze Letherman) lost her mother to a riding accident, which prompted her father, Ford (Gabriel Byrne), to sell her mother's horse to their neighbor, and bar Virginia from riding ever again. On a dark and stormy night, the mare gives birth to a new foal, with Virginia, sensing something wrong, rushing to their aid. It is a beautiful colt, which she names Stormy, but its mother dies. Virginia's father forbids her to see the newborn, which she, of course, ignores. As the horse grows, the adult ranchers try to tame him, but the horse will have nothing of it. Virginia, on the other hand, has a spiritual connection to the animal, and easily sooths its rattled nerves.

The horse's owner, Blake Raines (Robert Miranda), breeds race horses, and his son, Darrow (Kevin Zegers), an arrogant, spoiled brat, is the perennial winner of the area's annual endurance race, though his wins are more attributable to underhanded cheating than natural ability. Darrow also happens to be dating Virginia's sister, Caroline (Rachel Skarsten), but there is bad blood between the boy and Virginia, who sees him for the loser he really is. Against her father's wishes, Virginia sneaks out to ride Stormy under cover of darkness, only to be discovered by newcomer Jessie Eastwood, who is the Raines' new trainer. Jessie catches dad's eye, sparking up a romance, but also allowing her to coerce Ford into letting her daughter ride again. Knowing Virginia's feelings for the horse, Darrow attempts to break it, but when he fails, he threatens to get rid of it.

Markle's direction is spot on, delivering a powerful if predictable film that will appeal to any young animal lover. Lindze Letherman is a natural, and owns the role of the spunky, defiant young woman, and the writing does a great job making you love this kid. Byrne holds up the father figure, fighting his own internal battles in order to protect his daughters. Skarsten's character gets off to a rough start, but is redeemed in the end. Zegers is brilliant as the villian, with his pretty boy looks and despicable character, the audience is just dying to see this guy get what's coming. The only area that could have been better served is Joanne Whalley's part as the love interest/instigator of Virgina's return to riding, whose presence is somewhat forced into the film.

Shot gainst a backdrop of Nova Scotia's scenic coastline, Virginia's Run is both beautiful and satisfying. It conveys that magical connection between horse and human, fulfilling every horse-loving young girl's fantasy, both in the relationship with Stormy, and in the girl's independent nature, standing up to adults and the odds and coming out victorious. Trodding over familiar ground, the film delivers what you'd expect with few surprises to be found, which actually works for the picture. The PG rating is warranted, and parents may wish to screen the film before showing it to younger viewers.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - P&S
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: Why do studios in this day and age still think reformatting pictures is an acceptable practice? I have news for you MGM, this image does not fit my 16x9 screen, and ruins the composition. The image is crisp, colors are nice and well saturated, black levels are solid. Print defects are minor and small in number. Grain is well rendered. It's not a bad looking image, but just doesn't feel right.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1 surround track is clean and free from any technical issues. The soundstage is primarily forward focused, well defined and with a nice image. Tonal coverage is fine, with a balanced presentation. Dialogue is clear and concise. No complaints here.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Kart Racer, Uptown Girls, Agent Cody Banks, Agent Cody Banks 2, Johnny Lingo.
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The sole extras are trailers for Kart Racer, Uptown Girls, Agent Cody Banks, Agent Cody Banks 2, and Johnny Lingo, plus a PSA on movie piracy that opens the disc.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

Virginia's Run will appeal to anyone with a love of horses, but especially young girls. My only reservation is MGM's misguided decision to mess with the aspect ratio, so for that reason alone I'd recommend the Canadian version instead.


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