Hidalgo [Import]

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Director Joe Johnston has always had an entertaining sense of adventure, and with Hidalgo he proves it in spades. It's yet another underrated film for Johnston (along with such enjoyable popcorn flicks as The Rocketeer and Jurassic Park III), dismissed by many critics but a welcome treat for anyone drawn to good ol'-fashioned movie excitement. In his first role since playing Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Viggo Mortensen brings handsome appeal to his low-key portrayal of Frank T. Hopkins, a real-life long-distance horse racer who, as the movie opens, has witnessed the appalling massacre of Native Americans at Wounded Knee in 1890. Drifting into Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, he agrees to compete, with his trusty mustang, Hidalgo, in "The Ocean of Fire," a treacherous 3,000-mile horse race across the Arabian desert. Toss in a bunch of conspiring competitors, a noble sheik (Omar Sharif), his lovely daughter (Zuleikha Robinson), and enough fast-paced danger to fill 133 minutes, and you've got a rousing, humorous, and lightly spiritual adventure that's a lot of fun to watch. It hardly matters that it's almost pure fiction (the real Hopkins was known by many as "a pathological liar"). More important is the love of movies and moviemaking that Johnston so delightfully conveys. --Jeff Shannon
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