The equine decline: ‘Hidalgo’ drags

    “”Hidalgo”” proves to be on course in its praise for horses by telling a tale of heroism and an undying love between man and beast, but it seems to fall short at the finish line.

    Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

    The film tells the story of heroic Frank T. Hopkins (Viggo Mortensen) and his horse Hidalgo, who earn fame as the fastest long-distance racing team in North America. Appalled that a mustang could achieve this distinction, a doubtful team of horse enthusiasts convince Hopkins to enter his horse in the Great Race across the Sahara Desert.

    It is a story of a traditional hero, but loses sight of any elements of suspense. Hopkins and his horse continually stand together as the defected hero entity. Both are “mutts” in a race of thoroughbreds: Hidalgo is a mustang that rides against the champion thoroughbred Al-Hattal, while Mortensen’s character is half Native-American in a race with Middle-Eastern natives who have previously braved the heat of the Sahara.

    Characterized as the tough-guy outsider, Mortensen adopts a hard expression throughout most of the film and continually faces major moral decisions. Despite the antagonizing trouble from his competitors, Hopkins braves all of his challenges fearlessly.

    The aspects of heroism take away from the suspense of the movie; the hero, though handicapped, awaits triumph.

    The steady progression of the movie loses any surprise upon the approach to the finish line. Instead, the only cue the viewer has to the finality of the race is the crescendo of the music.

    “Hidalgo” dwells on aspects of religion, discrimination and the magnitude of success. Hopkins and Hidalgo celebrate their strength and heritage, while many other players in the race lear the difficulty of discrimination.

    The movie was tasteful and entertaining, though dreadfully unoriginal. It comes across like a blend between “Seabiscuit” and “The Mummy,” with hints of “Dances with Wolves” and “Indiana Jones” along the way. If the above films strike your cinematic fancy, then this should be right up your alley.

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