Viggo Mortensen, Omar Sharif, Malcolm McDowell, Said Taghmaoui"/>
Combustible Celluloid
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With: Viggo Mortensen, Omar Sharif, Malcolm McDowell, Said Taghmaoui
Written by: John Fusco
Directed by: Joe Johnston
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for adventure, violence and some mild innuendo
Running Time: 136
Date: 02/17/2004

Hidalgo (2004)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Horse Sense

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director Joe Johnston leaves behind his special-effects laden films (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, October Sky, etc.) and concentrates on this old-fashioned adventure film that could have been made in the classic studio era. Viggo Mortensen stars as the real-life Frank T. Hopkins, a down-and-out American cowboy with Indian blood who enters a race in the Middle East, riding his wild mustang Hidalgo against the more respected Arabian stallions. Aside from doing his own riding and stunts, Mortensen gets the feel of a stoic cowboy with a certain politeness and heroism without seeming corny. Omar Sharif plays his best role in years as the wealthy Arab in charge, while Malcolm McDowell has a wonderful cameo as a stuffy Brit who sneers at the low breeding of Frank's horse. Johnston's adventure scenes have a clear, exciting sweep to them, unabashedly adopting traditional entertainment values; his usual computer effects only rear their ugly head a couple times. This is the film Seabiscuit should have been.

DVD Details: The new DVD comes with a behind-the-scenes featurette, the 9-minute Sand and Celluloid and a DVD-Rom featurette, Hidalgo: America's First Horse -- which actually works on a Mac! An Easter egg on the "Bonus Features" menu plays a 3-minute short interviewing American Indians who tell their versions of the Hidalgo story, and Mortensen talks a little about T.J., the horse from the film. (The short also features some of his photographs.) The DVD comes with optional Surround or DTS sound and is available in separate widescreen and pan-and-scan editions.

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