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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on May 2, 2004
It's a rare occasion, unfortunately: when my 18 year old son and I can enjoy a movie together equally. "Hidalgo" gave enough action to satisfy the guy and there was enough plot to hold my interest. I was curious to see if Viggo Mortensen would be able to seem like someone else besides Aragorn to me; having seen the LOTR movies several times, I had doubts as to whether or not I could see Mortensen as anyone other than the King. My fears were groundless. Hopkins was totally believable as low-key, haunted man at home only with his horse.
But the Oscar goes to the horse, Hidalgo. (actually there were 5 horses) I can understand why Mortensen bought Hidalgo afterwards; their relationship seems totally genuine and sincere. (...)
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on August 14, 2004
Despite Disney Studios stupidly trying to push Hidalgo as fact, ignore that. This is Viggo Mortensen's first movie, since giving us the warrior-king Aragorn. He brought such compassion, such caring to that character, it's hard to think of any one else playing the role. So now, one ponders if he is "typecast" as Aragorn in everyone's minds. Will they accept him as a redhead, sans the beard of the darkly handsome ranger? The Rings Trilogy will live in our minds for decades. Those movies are the Gone With the Wind, Wizard of Oz, the Star Wars Sagas of our era. That Viggo is a super actor was proven long ago, if anyone was paying attention. He's acted with some of Hollywood's legends - actors and directors - but he is a near Alec Guinness type chameleon, so his works often went unnoticed. Hidalgo is not only the first project for him after Rings, it's the first really big budget film he's done riding solely on his shoulders. As such, he not only battled the Aragorn mantle, Disney's error in publicity, but the question - can he translate that into a leading man career?
The answer so far is not clear. But I believe he will. He is just too talented. Disney really muffed the ball. Six months before the movie came out it was hit with a hue & cry by historians offering evidence Hidalgo was far from factual. But then, stop and think. Since WHEN did Hollywood ever present TRUE history. One only has to look at Braveheart and Rob Roy to see great movies - shoddy history. It's always been the case with Hollywood. So Disney made a BAD decision to push this as "a true story". Even before the movie was released, there was a growing feeling of "Anti-Hidalgo".
For me, leave Disney faux pas at the door. While loving Rings, leave Aragorn at the door. And just enjoy. Movies are not for learning, they are for entertainment, something often ignored or forgotten. This is a very enjoyable movie. Directed by Joe Johnston, a rather new director (Jurassic Park III and some of the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles), he does well in giving an old-fashioned adventure for the whole family. It's filmed with an eye of beautiful imagery.
Viggo plays Frank Hopkins, who tried to make himself a legend in his own time. Many of Hopkins claims have been proven false, but as I said, this IS Hollywood. Hopkins supposedly was a rider/messenger for the Army after Little Big Horn, a time when the US Army extracted vengeance by massacring non-rebellious Indians at Wounded Knee. One of the saddest incidents in US history. He delivered the ordered that set loose the massacre. He had left, but hears the gunfire and returns to see the result. This cripples him emotionally. Hopkins life falls into an endless tour of towns with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, where he's billed as the greatest horseman and his horse, Hidalgo, is the greatest horse in the world because of the countless races he has won. Hopkins inner pain is compounded by seeing the Indian's portrayed in a shabby like by the Wild West Show.
Things shift for Hopkins, as an Arab visiting American challenges that claim Hidalgo is the fastest horse in the world. He demands either stop making the claim or have it proven in a race called the Oceans of Fires. Everyone chips in to help Hopkins and his horse compete. It's a grueling contest that sees riders and horses falling by the wayside, but Hopkins faces more than just finishing, there are Arabs determined that the American not win.
Don't nitpic, don't try to read political undertones into it, just sit back and enjoy. Viggo, a devout horseman, clearly bonds with the amazing Paint. I have never seen a horse with such an expressive face. Very understandable Viggo bought the horse.
I advise getting the widescreen version. The regular edition just seems too cramped. Also, there are times when Viggo is speaking with an Indian in the native tongue, or Omar Shariff is speaking to his daughter in Arabic, that it's not subtitled, so you are left sitting there Otherwise the transfer is beautiful.
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on December 12, 2008
Once a famous cowboy and dispatch rider for the US Cavalry, Frank T. Hopkins has ended up a self-loathing drunk starring in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show alongside Annie Oakley. Haunted by the Native slaughter he witnessed at Wounded Knee, and hiding a secret of his own, Hopkins is given a chance to redeem himself when a wealthy sheik invites him to enter the annual Ocean of Fire, a 3,000-mile survival race across the Arabian Desert. Not really confident, Hopkins initially agrees to the race because he has nothing better to do, but it soon becomes a race for his life. Since participation prior to 1890 had been restricted to only the finest Bedouin families, the pompous competitors see the American's entry as "sacrilege" and are eager to sabotage his chances.

The weathered and virile Viggo Mortensen, riding high after the Lord of the Rings trilogy, plays Hopkins as a soft-spoken and humble man. With a cloud of sadness hanging over him, Hopkins' only friend is his "painted" mustang, Hidalgo. Mortensen is able to fully convey the bond they share, and is completely believable as the real-life hero.

Others in the cast include Omar Sharif as Sheik Riyadh, Zuleikha Robinson as his "worthless" daughter, Elizabeth Berridge as Annie Oakley, and J.K. Simmons as Buffalo Bill Cody.

The screenplay is a little weak, lacking emotion and never bothering to explain the Bedouin perspective. Screenwriter John Fusco (Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron) is clearly an equine buff, but he spends too much time setting up the cliched human characters. As a result, the plot merely trots along, even after the race has begun. Thankfully, despite its inevitable outcome, the movie does offer a surprising and touching denouement.

Directed by Joe Johnston, whose previous works include the duds Jurassic Park III and The Rocketeer, Hidalgo's journey unfolds in a disjointed manner. When Hopkins tries to outrun a sandstorm, what could have been a suspenseful sequence is quickly blown aside. The same thing occurs when a swarm of locusts charge over the magnificent dunes but quickly vanish, and again when a pair of ravenous cheetahs are similarly dispensed with.

Nevertheless, Hidalgo is a satisfying story of determination that is suitable for the entire family. Showcasing the beauty of horses, the film makes one yearn for more tales of the Old West that speak of justice, pride and dignity. Rating: 6 out of 10.
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on May 13, 2004
I never really wanted to ride a horse before this movie; of course, Mr. Mortensen's grace makes riding look easy and fun, even when done furiously! Don't miss this film! I have seen it seven times - really and enjoyed all aspects from Mr. Mortensen's self-effacing mythic cowboy to Omar Shariff's cowboy smitten sheik. The scenery is worth the admission price by itself. The cowboy myth with twist makes the Western genre plot fresh while the required character types are all present. I applaud all involved for the respect given to all cultures and social problems involved. Easy answers are not passed off as truths. You can watch this with the family except very young children; this violence is present but not bloodied or gruesomely overplayed. The film is worth the price just for its final scene.
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on June 13, 2004
Hidalgo is an entertaining piece of nonsense. Frank Hopkins, a half Indian long distance pony trekker who has wound up in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, enters a race in the Arabian Desert to win the prize money. This is so that he can buy buffalo for the Indian people, without which, they will starve. Told you it was nonsense, didn't I? However, the race across the desert is very entertaining in an Indiana Jones sort of way, and even if I didn't believe a word of it - although it is suppose to be based on a true event! - I still enjoyed the film. This is worth seeing if you have nothing else to do. Omar Sharif makes an appearance, if that is any enticement.
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on May 28, 2004
Hidalgo is a great movie not only for horse lovers but also for anyone who loves action, adventure, and drama. The horse is absolutely gorgeous and Viggo does an excellent job as Frank. Towards the end when he was going to kill Hidalgo I almost cried. During the final racing scene my heart was beating fast and I wanted to scream "Come on Hidalgo go, go, GO! Faster faster!" I was practicly jumping out of my seat cheering for him. This is a wonderful movie and I pity those who don't see it's depth. The very end is very touching, especially if you love horses.
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on December 26, 2010
I loved this movie! With a husband from Alberta,(a past cowboy,) and me,being a bellydancer, this brought the wild west and the middle east together in a way that was highly entertaining, and enjoyed very much by both of us.A great story, lots of action, with real heroes and villains, who could ask for more?
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on March 26, 2011
The description leads you to an action adventure the likes of Indiana Jones or Brandon Fraiser in The Mummy... Well what you get is not even close to either one of these examples. It is an interesting story, but that is about it. It has moments of almost excitiment followed by stretches of hum-drum. It is not a bad movie, but it does not measure up to the "back cover" thrill. And there is no "action-packed adventure". Get the movie for the story which is an interesting one, but not for an adventure action-paced movie.
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on February 11, 2007
Think I spelled that right.

Quickly: a pretty cool epic style movie, great production, cool it was based on a true story.

Summary: follows the story of Frank T. Hopkins, historical 'cowboy' who raced his horse Hidalgo in over 800 endurance races. The movie focus' on his Native Heritage (starting with the Battle of Wounded Knee) and his entry into the Ocean of Fire, the worlds longest and most brutal endurance race.

The Good: the production on this was top notch. It had that ever pleasant effect of making you forget you were watching a movie. The story was well done, the charcters well written and played, and the plotline moved at a nice quick pace.

The Bad: it just wasn't as good as it could have been. Maybe because it was basically a story about a man and his horse. I just wasn't that gripping. I don't know, I can't really describe it, but I just didn't like it as much as many other adventure movies. It was good, but that's about it, nothing too special, it was just good.

The Ugly: The whole sub plot of the Shieks daughter seemed contrived and very hollywood. I highly doubt any of that had any historical referance.

Overall: A good movie. The fact it was based on a historical character that actually did the things depicted in the movie (well he was at Wounded Knee, he was part native, he did race the Ocean of fire, etc), was pretty cool. If you are a horse fan, especially the Spanish mustang you will love it. If not you will probably be like me and walk away thinking, that was pretty good. Not great but pretty good.
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on July 13, 2004
Okay, first off, one of the reasons I had to give this movie 4 stars was because in the commercials they boasted "based on a true story", yeah, well, based on a very loose, not even factually backed up true story. There are myths of Hidalgo, there are tales and stories and a few mentions of him in some foreign documents, but there is NO evidence that a race called the "ocean of fire" (or whatever it was called) ever existed.
Secondly, another thing weighing this movie down is the fact that it was directed by Disney. Now, don't misunderstand me, Disney has come out with a few good (even great) movies. "Remember The Titans" is one of my favorite movies of all time, but I think that if "Hidalgo" had been done by a different studio, it would have been more enjoyable, and a little less overly dramatic. I mean, come on, okay, it's possible that someone could outrun a sandstorm and hide out in an abandoned city of ruins, but it's not likely, and the chance of you actually being alright is slim-to-none.
With that out of the way, "Hidalgo" is initially a fun movie starring Viggo Mortensen whom was absolutely fabulous in "Lord Of The Rings". In this movie, Mortensen is pretty good. The visuals of the film are stunning and Omar Shareef is magnificent. The problem is, the story wanders all around the desert, all over... everywhere! And yet, of course, the main character still comes out on top at the end of the movie. Umm, okay, but I highly doubt this is the way things went down, if any of this is factual or not. Needless to say, if it was, the director took some 'artistic license' to make it more fun for the viewers. Right, *cough*, artistic license. Haha. I don't know, there's just something about the combined effect of this movies melodrama and the fact that the supposedly true story may be false, that creates an atmosphere that's just difficult to get into, and ultimately makes "Hidalgo" a regrettably forgetable movie.
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