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movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Hidalgo

Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Omar Sharif
Director: Joe Johnston
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 135 Minutes
Release Date: March 2004
Genres: Action, Drama

*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 Susan Granger
3½ stars out of 4

"Hidalgo" is a walloping, thrilling triumph-over-adversity tale, even though it gives a wholesome Hallmark Hall of Fame treatment to the story of Frank T. Hopkins, the world-famous half-Indian U.S. Cavalry long-distance endurance rider, and his plucky mustang Hidalgo.

The story begins in South Dakota as Hopkins (Viggo Mortensen) unwittingly delivers the military orders that will lead to massacre at Wounded Knee, where 300 Lakota men, women and children were brutally slaughtered by U.S. soldiers. Devastated, he turns to booze and winds up in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. That's where he catches the attention of a powerful sheik (Omar Sharif), who challenges Hopkins to enter the grueling 3,000-mile "Ocean of Fire" race through the Arabian desert. "If the elements don't kill you, your fellow riders will," he's warned. But the promise of substantial prize money that will help his people spurs him on, despite distractions by his competitors, an unscrupulous Brit (Louise Lombard) with her own agenda, and the kidnapping of the Sheik's daughter. Implausible? Yes. Compelling? Even more so.

Screenwriter John Fusco and director Joe Johnston are so determined to propel the fast-paced action that all subtlety and character development bit the dust, perhaps in the editing room. But Viggo Mortensen and Hidalgo more than make up for it. As Aragorn in "Lord of the Rings," Mortensen emerged as an action hero; here, he's an intrepid rogue, a new Indiana Jones. Shelly Johnson's photography is spectacular and kudos to the wranglers who elicited this horse's hilarious responses. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Hidalgo" is a hard-riding, adventurous 8. Saddle up for exciting, crowd-pleasing, heart-tugging entertainment.

Copyright 2004 Susan Granger

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