REVIEW: HIDALGO


CAST

Viggo Mortensen (Lord of The Rings)
Omar Sharif (Doctor Zhivago)
Zuleikha Robinson (Lost)
Louise Lombard (Stargate Universe)
Said Taghmaoui (COnan The Barbarian)
J.K. Simmons (The Accountant)
Peter Mensah (Spartacus)
C. Thomas Howell (E.T.)
Marshall Manesh (How I Met Your Mother)
Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek: Generations)
Chris Owen (American Pie)

In 1890, American Frank Hopkins (Viggo Mortensen) and his mustang, Hidalgo, are part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, where they are advertised as “the world’s greatest distance horse and rider”. Hopkins had been a famous distance rider, a cowboy, and a dispatch rider for the United States government; in the latter capacity he carried a message to the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment authorizing the Wounded Knee Massacre of Lakota Sioux.
Wealthy Sheikh Riyadh (Omar Sharif) has sent his attaché Aziz (Adam Alexi-Malle) to ask the show to either stop using the phrase “the world’s greatest distance horse and rider” or allow Hopkins and Hidalgo to prove themselves by entering the Middle Eastern “Ocean of Fire” race: an annual 3,000-mile survival race across the Najd desert region. The Sheikh is custodian of the al-Khamsa line, considered to be the greatest distance horses in the world, and traditionally the race has been restricted to pure-bred Arabian horses and Bedouin or Arab riders. In addition to the grueling conditions, prevailing animosity and contempt for a Christian “infidel” and “impure” horse, horse and rider face stiff competition, including the wealthy and unscrupulous British horse breeder Lady Anne Davenport (Louise Lombard).To complicate matters, Sheikh Riyadh has promised his daughter Jazira Jazeera (Zuleikha Robinson), his only surviving child, in marriage to the rider of his horse, should he win. She hopes to prevent this by giving Hopkins advice and information to help him win, thereby resulting in greater danger for them both. Sheikh Riyadh’s outcast brigand nephew, who will stop at nothing to gain control of the al-Khamsa line, raids the race camp, kidnaps Jazira, and threatens to kill her unless he gets his uncle’s prize stallion racer as her ransom. Hopkins manages to rescue Jazira. However, Davenport and the Sheikh’s nephew try to sabotage the race by eliminating the rival riders, but are thwarted when Hopkins kills the nephew.
For Hopkins the Ocean of Fire becomes not only a matter of pride, honor and survival, but of identity as well: it emerges that his father was European American while his mother was Lakota Sioux. The Lakota call him “Blue Child” or “Far Rider.” As a half-breed he feels sympathy and pity for his mother’s people, but does not generally reveal his heritage, especially after the Wounded Knee massacre, for which he feels partly responsible. Jazira compares his relation to his heritage to her desire to avoid wearing the veil, saying that he mustn’t “go through life hiding what God made you….like me.”
Nearing the end of the race, Hidalgo is severely injured and Hopkins is dying of thirst. He considers shooting Hidalgo to end his suffering, but is unable to bring himself to do it. Kneeling, he chants a prayer to Wakan Tanka as a possible death song, and images of Lakota elders and his mother appear before him before Hidalgo suddenly struggles up, and Hopkins rides bareback to come from behind win the race. Hopkins wins the respect and admiration of the Arabs, and becomes friends with the Sheikh, giving him his revolver as a gift. As he bids farewell to an unveiled Jazira, she asks him if he is fulfilling the traditional Western tales’ ending where the cowboy rides away into the setting sun and calls him Blue Child as she smiles kindly at him and turns to go. Returning to the United States, Hopkins uses his winnings to buy a herd of mustangs about to be killed by government order, in what was an attempt by the US government to eliminate mustangs and force Native Americans to convert to farming. Hopkins has the horses released and frees Hidalgo to join them in the wild. The epilogue states that Hopkins went on to reportedly win 400 long-distance races and was an outspoken supporter for wild mustangs until his death in 1951, while Hidalgo’s descendants live free in the wild in and around Oklahoma.The film has powerful overtones along with a basic plot. Overall, it made for a great adventure film. Its ending was certainly bittersweet

REVIEW: 10, 000 BC

CAST

Steven Strait (The Covenant)
Camilla Belle (When A Strange Calls)
Cliff Curtis (Jubilee)
Omar Sharif (Doctor Zhivago)
Reece Ritchie (The Outpost)

In the timeframe of 10,000 BC, a tribe of hunter-gatherers called the Yagahl live in a remote mountain range in the Urals and survive by killing woolly mammoths, which they call “mannaks”. The camp is led by a hunter who has proven his bravery by killing a Mammoth, and taking the White Spear. The people also strongly venerate an elderly woman, called Old Mother. Because of her different appearance to other humans in the village, it is assumed she is a Neanderthal, the “last of her kind”, living with the Homo sapiens of the camp.
D’Leh, a young hunter, has a companion named Evolet, an orphan who was found by the tribe. D’Leh, while hunting mammoths, manages to kill one and wins the White Spear. He also wins Evolet in marriage, but feels he deserves neither since he killed the mammoth by accident.
D’Leh and several others are away when horse-raiders called the “Four Legged Demons” attack the Yaghal camp. The horse raiders enslave Evolet and several others village´s hunters; D’Leh, Tic’Tic, KaRen, and Baku pursue them to save her. They enter a rainforest where they catch up with the raiding party. During the night, D’Leh rescues Evolet, but as they are trying to escape from the pursuing raiders, they are attacked by a large pack of terror birds. Tic’Tic gets wounded and Baku, Ka’Ren, Evolet are captured. Continuing on, they meet others whose loved ones were taken by the raiders. D’Leh and Tic’Tic befriend Nakudu, leader of the Naku tribe. He tells D’Leh of a prophecy; whoever talks to a Smilodon that they call the “Spear-Tooth” will help free their people. D’Leh had earlier saved the Spear-Tooth from drowning in a trap and it had spared his life. D’Leh realizes the prophecy was about him. Nakudu explains that his loved ones were taken in the “Great Red Birds”, ships with large red sails, to the “Mountains of the Gods”, from which no one has ever returned. They then come together with other tribes, who agree to form a coalition to pursue the raiders.
They find the ship with red sails holding Evolet and Baku. With no means to follow the ships, they journey through a vast desert, discovering an advanced civilization similar to ancient Egypt, ruled by an enigmatic figure known as “The Almighty”, who is said to be the last survivor of his kind and is regarded as a living god. It is implied that he is a survivor of the fall of Atlantis. The Almighty possesses many thousands of slaves that he is using to build a huge pyramid complex in his honor. D’Leh finds an escaped servant of the Almighty and notices he is wearing a bracelet worn by D’Leh’s father. D’Leh’s father left his tribe for food and found the Naku tribe before being stolen by the raiders. In a night attack, the guards of the slaves discover D’Leh behind a pyramid. Tic’Tic dies from injuries sustained while killing the guards before they can raise the alarm. The Almighty’s priests discover Evolet bears scars on her hand patterned after the “Mark of the Hunter”, the constellation Orion. The priests believe it is part of a prophecy that whoever wears the mark of the Hunter is destined to kill The Almighty. D’Leh starts a full-scale rebellion among the slaves. They cause the mammoth herd used in building the pyramid to stampede, killing a large number of troops.

The Almighty offers Evolet to D’Leh in exchange for abandoning his rebellion. The Almighty says that if D’Leh takes his wife, his warriors can return, but the rest must be his slaves forever. D’Leh feigns acceptance of the deal which allows him to throw a spear at The Almighty and kill him, proving that he is not a god. During the ensuing battle, a raider obsessed with Evolet kidnaps her on horseback. Evolet grabs an arrow and stabs the warlord in the side, knocking them both off the horse. D’Leh rushes towards her, but the raider shoots her in the back with an arrow. D’Leh kills him and returns to Evolet, and she dies in his arms. The scene shifts to the tribe’s wise woman as she breathes out her last breath. D’Leh is still holding Evolet’s body when she suddenly comes back to life, restored by the wise woman’s sacrifice. They depart for home and bid farewell to the other tribes.

An enjoyable ride all the same and I liked it despite its clunky script. It didn’t really pretend to be much more than it was – a popcorn movie for a rainy Sunday afternoon. Don’t analyse it. Don’t expect historical accuracy or intellectual depth. Just enjoy the romp and you’ll probably find it’s better than you expected.