Russell, Paxton and Kilmer raise some hell in a small town
, 05 Dec 2004
Legendary lawman Wyatt Earp is now a retired man, and has decided to travel to the town of 'Tombstone' to find his fortune. While there, he meets his two brothers, Virgil and Morgan along with his good friend Doc Holliday; and all is fine and dandy. That is, until an infamous band of outlaws calling themselves 'The Cowboys' turns up to spoil Wyatt's party. These are the outlaws that Wyatt loved to dispatch in his prime, but now all he wants is to retire and have done with it...will he be able to do that, or is it time for him to re-enter the frey?
Kurt Russell takes the lead role of Wyatt Earp for this movie, and does a good job with it (despite a very silly mustache). When justifying his reasons for casting Russell in Escape From New York, John Carpenter said that he could play anybody; and I think he can...but he's a lot better at roles that require him to show off, and he doesn't really get that chance here. Still, it's different and refreshing to see him in a more serious role. Russell gets support from a number of good actors, one of which being one of my personal favourites, Bill Paxton. Like Kurt, Paxton isn't given reign to play to his strengths here either. Paxton is at his best when he's running the show like he was in Aliens and Near Dark (despite them also being supporting roles), but his character here is a more subdued one, so he doesn't shine as much as he had previously. Val Kilmer is the only cast member that is allowed to go over the top in his role. He plays Doc Holliday; the drunken, loud mouthed braggart of the film and spends most it making quips and generally showing off. Although this does the film credit as it makes it more exciting, it does become annoying after a while. These are the stars that stick out the most, but also getting in on the fun to complete an excellent cast are Sam Elliot, Paxton's Aliens co-star; Michael Beihn, and Powers Boothe, the man he would later cast in the excellent 'Frailty'. Then there's Billy Bob Thornton, Charlton Heston, Michael Rooker and we've even got Robert Mitchum doing the narrating!
The film is very dramatic; a lot of the cast look like they could auditioning for the next Oscar ceremony, and the music adds to the theatrics, coming in whenever there's a whisper of a heartbreaking or exciting moment (the latter of which the film has plenty). However, this over-dramatization adds to the campy feel of the film and it makes it quite fun to watch. Tombstone is a very good movie; it's well shot, the acting is good enough and it remains entertaining for it's duration, and it's certainly one of the better westerns that have been released since 'Unforgiven' was met with critical acclaim in 1992. However, it's no classic
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