Hidalgo Joe Johnsston

Hidalgo Joe Johnsston
Promising to be a great action adventure, Joe Johnston's Hidalgo has let fans of the genre down with its plodding plot and disengaging action sequences. Based on the allegedly true tale of American endurance rider and mustang activist Frank T. Hopkins, Hidalgo tells the story of Hopkins' involvement in the Ocean of Fire — a 3,000 mile race across the Arabian Desert to determine the greatest racing horse in the world. The way the film tells it, Hopkins — the son of an American army scout and a Sioux woman — partakes in the race in 1890 with his trusty steed Hidalgo for a large purse that will aid the debt of his Sioux people back home and free up their confiscated mustangs. Casting Viggo Mortensen (The Lord of the Rings) as Hopkins lends the character a certain virtuous credibility, however, even Mortensen's strong performance — not to mention the well-timed charm of lead Hidalgo "T.J." — can't salvage the film itself, which lags under the weight of the arduous journey. Though Johnston throws in plot twists and turns, nothing terribly interesting or believable transpires until the final half-hour of the two-hour-plus film. The "making of" featurette "Sand & Celluloid" provides some historical background into the true story, as well as discussing how difficult it was to shoot the film under the treacherous elements of the Arabian Desert with a cast of extras that included 800 horses. All of that perseverance surely should have produced something more worthwhile than Hidalgo. Plus: Enhanced computer feature, "America's First Horse" featurette. (Touchstone/Buena Vista)