(Viggo Mortensen, Omar Shariff / PG-13 / 103 mins / Touchstone)
Overview: 'Hidalgo' is a biopic about long-distance rider Frank T. Hopkins (Viggo Mortensen). Hopkins was a cowboy and dispatch rider for the U.S. Cavalry who had once been billed as the greatest rider in the West. Looking to regain the fame of his past, Hopkins and his horse, Hidalgo, enter a competition called the Ocean of Fire, a 3,000-mile survival race across the Arabian Desert that pits him against riders determined to prevent a foreigner from finishing.
Verdict: While the picture is well-meaning and handsomely mounted, many will find 'Hidalgo' too formulaic, earnest and leisurely to be much more than a barely passable diversion. It’s 'The Last Samurai' except that proud Arabs substitute for the dignified Japanese, and our rugged hero is given a stout, mixed-blood equine sidekick! To be more honest, 'Hidalgo' is the sort of old-fashioned popcorn entertainment that has become increasingly rare on the current movie scene. An over-excruciatingly long 133 minute rough-cut with little truth and little meat between the bones, rarely has a horse race movie been so lethargic!!