Monday, 5 September 2016

Tombstone (1993)

Wyatt Earp and his brothers arrive in the boomtown of Tombstone, Arizona.  Wyatt has become well-known for his work as a Marshall in Dodge City, but his firm intent is to put aside his career as a law-man, get into a profitable business, and become wealthy.  Of course, life doesn't always work out the way you want it to, and tensions with a local band of outlaws who call themselves 'the Cowboys' soon escalate to the point where bloodshed seems inevitable.

So: there are two main reasons to watch Tombstone.

The first is the sequence covering the gunfight at the OK Corral.  This famous showdown forms the centrepiece of the movie and is a well-executed piece of film-making.  It does a good job of capturing the tension leading up to the actual fight, and then the chaos of the shootout itself.

The second is Val Kilmer's performance as Doc Holliday, which Roger Ebert singled out as "the definitive saloon cowboy of our time".  Kilmer's portrayal of the sickly, alcoholic dentist-turned-gunfighter steals pretty much every scene he's in.

These two positives have to weighed up against the film's central flaw, which is that it tends to sprawl a lot in terms of pacing and structure.  The opening act introduces a lot of characters, many of whom play only very minor roles, while the final act gets a little repetitive in its many scenes of men galloping across the countryside, shooting at each other.  It honestly feels like there may be as much as thirty minutes that could be cut from the run time, leaving a leaner, more focused film.

As far as the film as-actually-made goes, I feel the positives outweigh the negatives, but I'm sure that not everyone will agree.  Hence the qualified recommendation.

No comments:

Post a Comment