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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 24.53%
Average: 27.36%
Pretty Bad: 8.49%
Total Crap: 6.6%

5 reviews, 76 user ratings

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by dionwr

"Old fashioned silly fun with Viggo Mortensen and a horse"
3 stars

Like a misplaced artifact that came through a time hole from the 1930's, this modern adventure movie is the type everyone complains they don't make any more. Viggo Mortensen stars in a role either Gene Autry or Roy Rogers could have played, with no changes made to it at all.

Disney has unwisely chosen to play up the film as "based on the true story of Frank Hopkins," which points both to how they missed a much better story, and explains the out-of-time quality the film has. You see, there was a real Frank Hopkins, and in the late 1930's, he told stories about his life in the Old West. The problem is that his stories were wholly and utterly false.

Hopkins claimed to be a half-Sioux known as the "Laramie Kid," who became a government dispatch rider in 1877 at age 12. He said he witnessed the 1890 massacre of Lakota Indians at Wounded Knee, won 400 endurance races, rode with Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders and appeared in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. And, most memorably, he wrote of a 3000-mile endurance race up the Arabian peninsula, the "Ocean of Fire," which he won with his mustang, Hidalgo. (That's right--the film is named after the horse.)

None of Hopkins's stories were true, but that's what they made the movie about.

They'd have had a better film if they'd told the real story of an old man who spun fantastic tales and turned out to be a genial fraud. But they go full-bore at it, insisting it's based on truth. It's silly of them, and detracts from a neat piece of Saturday-afternoon, thrilling-yarn, adventure hokum.

Because it is actually an invention of the 1930's--that's when Hopkins started telling his stories--the film's old-fashioned, non-ironic ways becomes a lot more understandable. It's an interesting mix of the 1930's sensibility that thought it up, and the modern technology and attitudes with which it's been made.

With all that noted, I have to say I shamelessly enjoyed it.

"The Ocean of Fire is not just a race. It's full of obstacles you can't even imagine. And if the elements don't kill you, your fellow riders will." "Sounds an awful lot like South Dakota."

"Why are you risking your life for me?" "My horse likes you."

What can I tell you? I love this sorta crap!

Hidalgo is filled with the sort of narrow scrapes and derring-do we've seen a hundred times before, as it focuses mainly on that race from one end of Arabia to another. It's longer than it needs to be, at 2 hours 16 minutes, but it has a lot of scenes I remember with real affection, particularly the sandstorm and a fight with someone trying to cheat in the race. And the film wouldn't exist without Viggo Mortensen playing Frank Hopkins.

Mortensen proves that his leading-man charm in "Lord of the Rings" was no fluke, although he's not given much to do here. This is the sort of movie where he just has to look good on a horse. Mortensen's laconic persona and his horesmanship work perfectly. Anyone who can say that line about his horse liking them with a straight face is showing a real, and rare, talent. I also liked the scenes of him arguing with his horse.

There's a handful of good performances in the supporting roles as well, with Omar Sharif on hand as an Arabian sheik, Louise Lombard as an upper-class Englishwoman who's sponsoring a horse in the race, and Elizabeth Berridge as Annie Oakley.

Utterly predictable it may be, but if you like stories of noble cowboys and their even more noble steeds, this one is a lot of fun.

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originally posted: 03/06/04 09:01:33
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User Comments

12/08/14 zenny Lord of the Nieghs 4 stars
1/17/09 Shaun Wallner Thought this was a good film. 5 stars
1/10/09 Anonymous. fun :] i love horse movies. 4 stars
7/13/06 R.W.Welch Okay adventure yarn tho Mortenson plays it a little too slack. 3 stars
6/22/06 Mary Rutland Glorious fun. 5 stars
9/15/05 Tom Burns A very enjoyable movie. 5 stars
8/30/05 ES American in the mid-east survives better in the desert than the natives of the land= crap 1 stars
7/03/05 Charlie Nothing special 3 stars
4/29/05 Quigley a very good film with good acting and even greater action, all on top of a good story 5 stars
4/16/05 Carol Conway Way too long 3 stars
3/31/05 hannaho Another example of Hollywood's view of history. 3 stars
3/26/05 Denise good and fun 4 stars
3/21/05 reptilesni An exotic and really well told story. 5 stars
3/18/05 B. D. Cole I fell asleep 3 nights in a row trying to watch the end of this ... dreadfull 1 stars
3/12/05 Bruce McLean unbeliveable 1 stars
3/09/05 Carolyn Rathburn Love every minute of it, they don't make enough movies like this. 5 stars
3/05/05 Gloria Anderson love this movie 5 stars
3/02/05 Maggie Dressler exciting andwonderful 5 stars
3/01/05 CanDance Walker I loved this movie! 5 stars
3/01/05 Jeanette T. all the movie lacked was a cartoon & a newsreel -- old fashioned fun! 4 stars
2/25/05 L.G. Enjoyed it; great wholesome film 4 stars
2/24/05 axe at turns eye-rolling and eye-popping 3 stars
11/27/04 HL Nice story..good action..keeps moving..... 4 stars
11/18/04 Jessie it was very exciting and moving! 2 thumbs up. 5 stars
10/15/04 Don Eckert Great action but didn't care about the character and subplots stupid. 3 stars
10/15/04 Emma Facinating entraping movie based on a true story 5 stars
8/24/04 ownerofdajoint good advenure flick;a little long...definitely worth seeing..great scenery.. 4 stars
8/16/04 elizaveta Viggo is the only saving grace - without his deep performance, it would be crap! 4 stars
8/16/04 Dan Booooring 1 stars
8/14/04 Li Uneven - but Omar shines as shiek 3 stars
8/11/04 Sharon very entertaining movie! 4 stars
7/25/04 Diane Hildalgo was a fun movie. I liked it. 4 stars
7/10/04 Confessions Of A Teenage Trauma Queen How in the blazes do they move those luxurious tent dwellings as fast as the horse race??? 3 stars
7/08/04 jasmine it is so good!!!love it!!! 5 stars
5/27/04 lucas isleno 3 stars
5/10/04 John fun concept, a few good moments but just a terrible script 2 stars
5/06/04 Mark Fulwiler Good fun! 4 stars
4/10/04 Spaz Viggo is amazing 5 stars
4/08/04 Bob Hidalgo, was a completely shitty movie. What was up with those ultra stereotypical Arabs? 1 stars
4/07/04 Austin Beggs It was great! I love the movie! 5 stars
3/25/04 Michelle Redel Viggo is captivating and I love the horses too! I would love to ride that cowboy yahooo 5 stars
3/23/04 Emily It's Great! Viggo did a wonderful job! Some of the editing was a little off, but that's ok! 5 stars
3/22/04 Jason Mundstuk Parodic plot, unbelievable twists, redeemed somewhat by last 15 minutes of self-realization 2 stars
3/21/04 chris i could tell you the ending before the movie started 3 stars
3/20/04 Brian A rip snortin adventure. I enjoyed it 4 stars
3/19/04 Alex Galli This is a fun and exciting movie with awesome action sequences. 4 stars
3/19/04 Pinto Mustang If you love horses and old-fashioned movies without pretention 5 stars
3/19/04 Suzy Boyle It was a pretty cool movie 5 stars
3/18/04 Wolf Slightly disappointing (CGI leopards SUCKED) but worth matinee. 3 stars
3/18/04 mystic Would go see it again just to see viggo!!!! 4 stars
3/18/04 Bobbi Jo Perez This movie was 1 of a kind. it was just awesome viggo was so good in this movie and really. 5 stars
3/17/04 sam really good 3 stars
3/16/04 alex reminded me of The Last Samurai. Damn similar beginning 3 stars
3/16/04 HorrorScribbler Okay ... unnecessary subplots, pretty horses. I understand real Hopkins a noted liar. 3 stars
3/16/04 A.S. brilliant,those who hate it,obsiously have not enough intelligence to know what is art!! 5 stars
3/15/04 sjrrsjyjsyrj booooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
3/14/04 Marvin Excellent entertainment 4 stars
3/13/04 Jessica It was awesome 5 stars
3/11/04 Druce While not a blockbuster, definitely worth a viewing 4 stars
3/10/04 Richard Morgan Very entertaining. Finally a good movie for the whole family. 5 stars
3/10/04 misslooty Who was the editor for this film?but great cinematography 3 stars
3/09/04 BuBBa At first the movie was really fun but then it trailed off into a unneeded su plot of shieks 3 stars
3/09/04 Wendranh One of the few movies I want to see again! The horse is a better leading "man" than most w 5 stars
3/08/04 jcjs wonderful, adventurous, lovely, romance, horse and man 5 stars
3/08/04 Merry Writer 4 stars
3/07/04 Nancy O Really enjoyed it. Scenery great, Horses magnificent. Great leading men to watch. 4 stars
3/07/04 Kate Great! 5 stars
3/07/04 Amira Zahra AWFUL, Full of incorrect and negative stereotypes 1 stars
3/06/04 Jayman a throw back horse epic with a soul 5 stars
3/06/04 john awsome, lovely, graveful, delightfully surprised, simplicity, dance, beauty, grace, focus.. 5 stars
3/06/04 Lord Chu Great stuff, simple but charming. 5 stars
3/06/04 Ren This is an awesome movie!! 5 stars
3/06/04 Carver S. uuuhhhh....Viggo..on a horse....AGAIN.... 3 stars
3/06/04 paganchyk Uneven, but the good parts are really good 4 stars
3/05/04 Ray This is really good!!! 4 stars
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  05-Mar-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 03-Aug-2004



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