I remember when Tombstone first came out ten years ago (yes it has been that long) and thinking that it looked pretty good. However, I was a little worried about how it would be pulled off. I wasn’t sure about the casting of Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp, and director George Cosmatos had left a legacy of movies that included, ‘Leviathan’, ‘Cobra’ and ‘Rambo: First Blood Part II.’ This was his first since ‘Leviathian’, a 4 year gap and he was directing a western. Needless to say, I was skeptical.
Much to my complete surprise, the movie is an absolute winner. ‘Tombstone’ works because it doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t. Cosmatos didn’t try to do ‘Unforgiven’, a much deeper and personal look at revenge and the old west. Hell, this was a straight up action packed shoot em western with great characters and fine performances all around.
The story centers around Earp (Russell) and his two brothers Virgil (the gruff Sam Elliot) and Morgan (Bill Paxton) and their move to Tombstone Arizona where they believe they will strike it rich. Content to no longer be a law and order man, Russell moves in on the Oriental Saloon (after getting rid of a troublesome Johnny Tyler (Billy Bob Thornton)) to start staking his claim. The trio is joined shortly thereafter by Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer).
Of course, this happy little world couldn’t exist forever could it? The Cowboys burst on to the scene led by Curly Bill Brocious (the always good Powers Booth), Johnny Ringo (Michael Biehn) and the Clantons, Ike (Stephen Lang) and Billy (Thomas Haden Church). Several events lead up to Wyatt Earp once again putting on his badge and gun belt again.
Rounding out the cast are Dana Delaney as the woman who make the tough Wyatt Earp melt, as well as Jason Priestley and Billy Zane. Charlton Heston even has a cameo.
Russell does a fine job and brings a certain intensity and passion to the role of Earp making him a much more intriguing character than Kevin Costner was able to do in ‘Wyatt Earp.’
That standout here though, is Val Kilmer. It is easily his best performance. He steals every scene he appears in and rips off so many good one liners that fans of the film still repeat them today.
I have not seen the re-issued DVD yet, but it contains the all the extra goodies DVD fans come to expect such as deleted scenes, commentary, featurettes and storyboards as well as some really cool packaging. I plan to buy my copy as part of my 8th wedding anniversary bag of gifts. You should get one too.