Hidalgo (2004) [Blu-Ray]

Genre(s): Adventure / Drama / Western
Buena Vista || PG13 - 136 minutes - $29.99 || April 1, 2008
Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2005-05-05


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Joe Johnston
Writer(s): John Fusco (written by)
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Zuleikha Robinson, Omar Sherif, Louise Lombard, J.K. Simmons


Theatrical Release Date: March 5, 2004


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Sand Celluloid
  • America's First Horse


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (PCM 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

(Synopsis) The excitement begins when famed horseman Frank T. Hopkins enters a grueling competition - "The Ocean of Fire" - with his mustang Hidalgo. Together, they must not only survive a 3,000-mile race across blistering desert terrain; they must always thwart evil competitors who vow victory at any cost.

Hidalgo is a film directed by Joe Johnson starring Viggo Mortensen as the legendary Frank T. Hopkins who, if the legends holds true, has won numerous horse racing competitions with his half-breed horse, Hidalgo. After witnessing the massacre of Wounded Knee, Hopkins gets forced to join the 3,000-mile race "The Ocean of Fire" to prove how great and fast his horse Hidalgo truly is.

The film unfortunately starts off incredibly slow and it was hard just to pay attention for the first twenty minutes of the film. Once Hopkins and Hidalgo join the race things heat up and the action begins! However, halfway through the film we are forced to leave the competition itself on a journey to rescue Jazira (Zuleikha Robinson), the daughter of a wealthy horse breeder named Sheikh Riyadh (Omar Sharif). While I did enjoy the fight scenes that came after, I felt it detracted from the main plot of the film which was Hopkins journey to win the race and prove his horse, Hidalgo, is in fact one the fastest horses around.

I do have two small issues with the film. For the most part, nearly everyone seems to be able to speak perfect English albeit with ascents. It seems a little bit odd that in the 1890's people that typically would be speaking Arabian all of the sudden can speak fluent English. I understand it's probably to help us enjoy the movie rather than forcing us to read numerous subtitles which is appreciated. The second is that fact that the film is titled Hidalgo, but the name is rarely said in the film. I believe I have mentioned it more in this review then the name is spoken in the actual film. The film might have done better at the box office if the title was changed to something that more people could connect with.

While I only have a few small issues with the film it wasn't overly enjoyable either. The film felt like it could have been a bit tighter had it trimmed fifteen to twenty minutes from its runtime. On the plus side, Viggo Mortensen nails this role as an actor. From what little I have read about Frank T. Hopkins it felt like I was watching him on screen and Viggo appeared to show a genuine compassion for his horse. The film has many great action scenes including sword fights and some amazing racing scenes.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

All special features are carried over from the previous SD DVD release and are presented in 480 SD.

Sand Celluloid (9:00) A very short behind the scene featurette that barely touches on anything. More of a promo feature than anything else.

America's First Horse (21:33) A short featurette that talks about the Spanish Mustang in various forms. May be interesting for some that are interested in horses but I wasn't very moved by it.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Hidalgo is presented in 2:40.1 (AVC MPEG4) 1080p widescreen on a 50GB Blu-ray disc. Overall it's a slightly disappointing disc. For a movie that is only a few year's old I noticed several times scenes with heavy grain as well as a slight edge enhancement to a few. Blacks do look great and several times I was in awe looking over the Arabian Desert which looked stunning. Compared to the last batch of Buena Vista discs I reviewed this is by far the most disappointing.

What it lacks in picture quality it certainly makes up for in the audio department. Hidalgo on Blu-ray boasts a PCM 5.1 track as well as Dolby Digital 5.1 in English, French and Spanish. I've got to say the PCM 5.1 track sounds extraordinary. Several times my windows were shaking with the sounds of a horse stampede or the amazing fight scene towards the middle of the film. Dialog is presented very clean and clear with only a few times I noticed a small volume hiccup.



.::OVERALL::.

Hidalgo is a movie that you either love or hate. I felt the film started off very slow and as soon as it picked up pace story-wise we were thrown in a totally different direction which made me lose focus of the main plot of the movie. This would make a great rental but not something I would personally ever feel the need to watch again.