April 10, 2004


"Better than Seabiscuit!"

My wife Lucy spoke this softly into my ear about the time Viggo and his Mustang hit gallop in the final run toward the end of the transdesert race that is the story of Hidalgo.

Later on the way out she explained that she not only likes the movie Hidalgo better than the movie Seabiscuit, she mainly likes the horse Hidalgo better. Hidalgo the horse is a dynamic character in this story, much moreso than the racehorse Seabiscuit in his story. And Seabiscuit certainly couldn't run a 3000 mile race. He would fail before the last 2995 miles. Hidalgo is more of an everyman...er...everyhorse... than Seabiscuit, though biscuit wasn't a superbreed either. Hidalgo is a wild mixed breed, hardly geneticized for racing.

The story is called Hidalgo and the horse is a central character, but really the movie is about Frank T. Hopkins, Viggo Mortensen's lead role. Viggo's presence in the cast is I'm sure the only reason Lucy wanted to see this film, Lord of the Rings fanatic that she is. But I'm glad. This movie is very very good. The story is quite compelling, the characters compliment each other nicely, and the visual is stunning. This film really is beautiful. Some might complain of the brown monotony of the desert. But the grand views offered by the cinematography of Hidalgo blew me away.

If I have a complaint, it is Viggo. I fear he may become Kevin Costner. Remember those flicks Kevin produced and acted in just before and after 1990? The nice fantasy and/or historical productions that had this vacuum at the center, where he was, bare butt and all? Robin Hood stands out for me in this regard, and probably Dances With Wolves. Mr. Mortensen showed more life in the LOTR films than he does here, though he is one with his horse. You must give him that. And his character did require some quiet, focused determination, so I should give him the benefit of the doubt until his next couple of flicks come out. Oh, and Viggo shows no ass in Hidalgo. Thank God for that.

For Viggo's next role, I hope it is something completely different from this. Something modern and urban. I want to see how he acts with a suit on, drinking a martini.

Before I go I need to mention Omar Shariff as the Arabian ruler. He is really precious and adds much character to the story.

From the looks of the trailers we saw today, this summer we are heading into an end-o'-the-world phase with movies. One trailer was for Day After Tomorrow, a movie where the polar caps melt (in one afternoon if I saw it right) and flood the whole planet. The other trailer described the film 10.5. 10.5 apparently refers to a Richter scale rating of an earthquake that separates the entire west coast from the North American continent. I can't wait to experience these things.

Speaking of trailers, if you haven't seen it yet, be sure and check out the new Spiderman 2 trailer. It's a beaut.

Posted by Wayne at April 10, 2004 09:13 PM
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