Carroll Ballard, director of The Black Stallion (1979), delivers another intelligent and beautifully shot adventure centered on the powerful relationship between a child and an animal. A young white boy in South Africa (Alexander Michaletos) and his father (Campbell Scott) recover a baby cheetah whose mother has been killed, and it grows to adulthood in their care. After the father suddenly dies, the boy resolves to return his pet to the wild and sets off across the Makgadikgadi salt pans, the Okavango Delta, and the Erongo Mountains, crossing paths along the way with a mysterious black drifter (the always fine Eamonn Walker). This is superior family entertainment—warm, thoughtful, and connected to the landscape. With Hope Davis. PG, 100 min.
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