Cover Art and Menu: 6/10
An epic story doesn’t really give off that artsy vibe, so the cover they have put together seems appropriate. This is a big time heart tugger of a movie, a throw back to the good old days when honor and determination were still all the rage in cinema. This cover reflects the romantic vision of this genre, the hero, the “bad guy”, the token woman, the horse..you get the picture. It would fit right in with some of the hit western dramas and Arabian night movies of the 40’s and 50’s, so I imagine that’s what they were going for, it certainly isn’t cutting edge graphic design. 🙁 The menus are decent. Pretty basic with some video clips playing in the background and easy to navigate chapters. This is a classy film, so I suppose they had to be understated with the whole Blu-Ray package. Fair enough.
Extras & Features: 7/10
- Sand & Celluloid Making Of Featurette – Get some behind the scene information about the man who inspired the story, and some interviews with cast and crew. I love to get into the “true?” part behind a based on true life movie, and these are nice extras, but they are way to short. I have done some of my own looking around to find out more about Frank Hopkins, since these extras don’t seem to tell the whole story, but all I find are accounts that make you wonder just how much truth there really is behind it all. I liked the movie but I really was more intrigued by the man behind the lead character, they just didn’t go much into depth about him, unfortunately.
- Americas First Horse Venture Beyond The Movie – Got a DVD drive in your PC? Pop this one in and this section will give you videos to watch and more history about the people and events that sparked this story. Beware though, the video is not in super good quality, so don’t expect to watch it full screen without some pixels getting in the way. I have a sneaking suspicion that they just ran out of room on the disc, didn’t to make it a two disc set, so they compressed the dickens out of what video they did include. Content includes the history of the horse in America, which is pretty cool to learn about. I just thought they were always here…but I was wrong..choke cough gag (on the word wrong).
The Movie: 8/10:
Just so you know, I wasn’t in the best of moods the day I watched Hidalgo. I don’t know if that tainted my perspective, or if my movie watching constitution is strong enough to withstand a “bad day”. So take anything negative and cut it in half, anything positive, multiply by two and you will have the fair and balanced review this movie deserves.
Ok, I’ll just buckle down and accentuate all the positives, how’s that? It’s a good flick, it really is. I just had a few moments when I wondered if I “liked it” or “LIKED it”, if you know what I mean. The first positive is Viggo, yes, I’m a fan. This is a guy who puts his heart and soul into any part he is playing. Hildalgo is no exception. He had to learn Tolkien’s Elvin language for Lord Of The Rings, and now he’s learned Native American dialect for this movie. A hardworking guy, no doubt. It’s just plain fun to watch him in this movie because he’s in almost every scene, but he doesn’t steal the show just because he’s the star. He never disappoints when it comes to delivering a powerful moment when it’s called for.
He’s not a traditional hero type I suppose with his subtleties and his quiet ways, but he’s got a strong on screen presence that brings any character he plays to life. He pulls out the stops when the action kicks in, but most of the time he takes his time, which makes it all seem that much more, um…believable? (I’ll leave it to you to research the validity of the “based on a true story” aspect of this film).
All of the performances were quite good actually. Omar Sharif is pretty darn powerful in his own right, even though he’s like a hundred and fifty years old. He’s one of those genuine movie star types and that adds a lot of flavor to a movie. Well, I looked him up and he was actually born in 1935. He’s not THAT old, and it’s pretty amazing that he’s working so much at his age. He’s even got three more movies in production at the moment. I think it was a stroke of genius to put him in the role of the Prince who brings Hildalgo and Frank to Egypt. He is Egyptian, so it makes sense, right? I’m not sure what would motivate him, at his age, to do this film, but he fits in perfectly with his old style acting and his well maintained good looks. You read correctly. I think the guy is pretty hot for his age, never mind that he was born before TV was invented…who cares.
Speaking of Omar Sharif, and the good old days of movie making, Hildago has a lot of throw backs to films made back when adventures across the Arabian deserts were as big as swashbuckling across the open sea. This movie doesn’t have lots of blood, even though you see lots of sword play. There are several moments when the good guys are out numbered by the bad guys, but guess who wins? It’s that Hollywood thing where you root for the underdog, and the underdog always pulls through, well most of the time.
This is a story of a man and his horse. Simple as that. A man who has lost his own will to move ahead of the horrible things he has seen in his life, but who believes his horse can get him through the biggest challenge of his life. I think it’s safe to say that even though it’s a story with all the trappings of a classic tale, it’s still missing something. I can’t put my finger on it, but as I watched it I was always waiting for whatever would have taken it from being a good movie to being a classic epic film that would stand the test of time. As it is, I think this will go down as a charming little movie starring that guy from Lord of the Rings, but won’t achieve legendary status. It seems to be lacking in two main areas. I really enjoy Viggo, but he lacks the charisma that leading men in this type of role often possess. I’m not saying that all actors should be alike, but in Hildago there is lots of room for big personality to play off the huge backdrop of this 3000 Race of Fire.
I got into the story from start to finish, watching all the details of the sets, costumes, and locations. It’s a luscious film with lots of visual toys for your eyes to play with, not limited to the beautiful horses (no I’m not a horse person), the never-ending desert, and colorful villages you encounter along the way. I can’t fault it for the production value. With actual on location sets the authenticity makes up for the majority of the fun of the movie.
Overall I have to say it is a fun one to watch, but somewhere along the way I think I had my sights set a little higher. I would love to have been enthralled, from start to finish, but it just didn’t happen. This is a solid above average, but not great flick I do highly recommend for kids, families, even if you just love horses and big stories that revolve around them.
Video & Audio By Ascully:
Hidalgo is not the best movie in the world but the cinematography is quite stunning and this comes across well on Blu-Ray disc. The movie utilizes a BD50 disc and uses the latest AVC codec, i was expecting the movie to be full of grain (it is set in the dessert after all) but to my surprise the transfer was pristine all the way through.
Audio is delivered in a PCM Uncompressed format as well as the standard Dolby Digital track which is ported from the DVD release. The Uncompressed version literally blows the DD track out of the water (or should that be sand) though and is reason alone to buy the Blu-Ray version of the movie. The most intense scene which features a sand storm sounds incredible the sound is so crisp you can hear individual grains of sand rustling up against each other in the rear surrounds. Overall I enjoyed the Audio/Video presentation of Hidago on Blu-Ray disc I actually enjoyed the presentation more than the movie 🙂
$20.00 is a bit too high in my opinion for such a widely released disc, especially since there isn’t much in the way of extras to pump up the deal. The movie is well worth a watch, and a great one for you to have on the shelf if you have kids in the house, but if you are just a grown up like me, having a semi-bad day, looking for a movie to watch, rent it.
Overall Score 7/10