Directed by Joe Johnston, the man behind the excellent & severely underrated "The Rocketeer" ('91) which was also a period piece, "Hidalgo" is a biographical adventure film loosely based on the life of Frank T. Hopkins and his mustang, Hidalgo that competed on a long distance Middle Eastern race called itself "Ocean of Fire", against the best pure- blooded Arabian horses. The real life Hopkins and his alleged exploits were most likely fictional / tall stories told by a 'fabulator' man that once was a professional horseman performing with the Ringling Brothers Circus. Even if it wasn't all true, the Hopkins & Hidalgo's daring adventure across the scorching desert of Arabia was the perfect scenario for an adventure / drama film shot on location, with a sense of the classic swashbuckling style, long gone from the Entertainment Industry of nowadays. It looks & feels something like a lighthearted / toned-down version of such classics as "Lawrence of Arabia" meets "Dances with Wolves" with an Indiana Jones urge to it, some of the funny gags & action sequences are even based (or more like a tribute) to the world's most famous archaeologist. Smartly, the director Johnston keeps the CGI effects to a minimum, only when was strictly necessary (like the sandstorm who reminds a lot the less-inspired Stephen Sommers' blockbuster, "The Mummy") which enhanced the old school filmmaking factor. "Hidalgo" is an entertaining, upbeat & reckless ride that moves at nicely pace, competent photographed by Shelly Johnson with great sets & costume design and great performances all around from Viggo, still in the heroic & manly, but sensitive role of an Aragorn type of character to the legendary & sorely missed, Omar Sharif in a gracious & witty role as the Sheikh Riyadh. Malcolm McDowell, C. Thomas Howell & J.K. Simmons also provided interesting cameos, but above them all, T.J. as the beautiful mustang Hidalgo, deserves the highest praise.
In 1890, a down-and-out cowboy and his horse travel to Arabia to compete in a deadly cross desert horse race.
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April 14, 2019