out of 4
All-Reviews.com Movie/Video Review
|*Also starring: ||Zuleikha Robinson, Adoni Maropis, Adam Alexi-Malle, Louise Lombard, Beverly Graham, Marshall Manesh, Malcolm McDowell, Frank Collison, Said Taghmaoui, Elizabeth Berridge, Joseph J. Dawson||
Review by Steve Rhodes
2 stars out of 4
Rarely has a horse race movie been so lethargic. HIDALGO is certainly no
SEABISCUIT. In bad need of more racing and less talking, the movie will have
you passing the time musing on what the real story was like, since HIDALGO was
inspired by a true story. One suspects that the story's hero, a half-white and
half-Indian rider named Frank T. Hopkins, probably didn't have Errol Flynn's
fighting skills and that his horse Hidalgo probably wasn't able to rise from
near death and start sprinting at full speed through the desert heat. But, if
you ignore the script's many implausibilities, it is sometimes fun watching
Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn from THE LORD OF THE RINGS) cracking wry one-liners
("Back home we toss a horseshoe in the pot, and, if it stands up, the coffee is
ready.") and being an invincible fighter and rider.
Set in the late 1800s, the story involves a famous horse race across the
Arabian Desert -- three-thousand miles in all. Think they'll still end up in a
near photo finish? Forty riders die in it every year. Frank is asked to bring
his little mustang to race with the big horses after Buffalo Bill advertises
Hidalgo and Frank as being the best long-distance horse and rider in the entire
world. With long stretches without food or water and with the contestants
cheating with murderous intent, the race is an endurance contest that makes the
word "race" a misnomer. Most of the time the horse and rider move at no more
than a walking speed.
Mortensen is good, as is Omar Sharif, who plays Sheikh Riyadh. (Veteran actor
Sharif is much better in MONSIEUR IBRAHIM, which gets its U.S. release on the
same date as HIDALGO.) But the script by John Fusco (SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE
CIMARRON) shows that he was more interested in the intrigue back at camp than
in the race itself. Typical of these episodes is an incident in which one of
Sheikh's daughters is caught speaking to Frank in his tent, so punishment is in
order. The question isn't what will it be but how Frank will get out of it.
In this two-and-a-quarter hour film, the race doesn't even start until almost
an hour has passed.
This much can be said of HIDALGO. It does end well, even if rather
HIDALGO runs a long 2:13. The film is in Arabic with English subtitles and in
English. It is rated PG-13 for "adventure violence and some mild innuendo" and
would be acceptable for kids old enough to be able to read subtitles.
Copyright © 2004 Steve Rhodes
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