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Category:    Home > Reviews > Western > Tombstone (1993/Touchstone/Disney Blu-ray)

Tombstone (1993/Touchstone/Disney Blu-ray)


Picture: B-†††† Sound: B-†††† Extras: C†††† Film: C+



George P. Cosmatos was an action director best known for Rambo II (1985) and bombs like Cobra (1986) and Leviathan, a rip-off of Alien that wanted to capitalize on The Abyss by also being Aliens under water.Say what you will about his usually poor films, but Tombstone (1993) is easily his best film and one many still discuss fondly.The film about Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday and company was not the only production on the subject at the time.So to explain this tale of two Western productions, you have two major studios backing the same historical storyline.


Warner Bros. and Kevin Costner (fresh off of Dances With Wolves) were spending big bucks on his Wyatt Earp production and Costner (save the Maverick revival also being made by Warner) was determined to not allow any other Western to get made, to the point that he literally rented every costume and prop he could.Disney simply did their rentals from London and got their film done around the same time.In a reversal of fortune not unlike Sylvester Stalloneís big budget race car film Driven (also a Warner film) being mowed over by a lower-budget upstart from Universal no one thought would be seen (The Fast & The Furious), Tombstone was a moderate hit and Costnerís film was a big bomb.


Not that Tombstone is the definitive version of the story, but it is not the overly long, somewhat pretentious mess the Costner film turned out to be, though we later found out the film was shortened and that still did not save it at the box office.Kurt Russell was not bad as Earp and was still enough a name star to be allowed to carry a lead role, but Val Kilmer steals just about every scene as the highly alcoholic Doc Holiday.


Robert Mitchum narrates one of the most famous stories of the West (his son Christopher has a small role) in a coup that also helped the film.The film also comes with a more interesting cast, including Charlton Heston, Powers Booth, Bill Paxton, Sam Elliott, Jon Tenney, Thomas Hayden Church, Stephen Lang, Michael Rooker, Dana Delaney, Billy Bob Thornton, Billy Zane, Robert John Burke, Harry Carey Jr. and even Jason Priestly.That is a cast that has actually appreciated.


Despite the effort and money involved, The West here is just too clean to be believed, the film does not have the sweep of the best Westerns and some of it can be uneven, yet it has enough good moments and performances to make genre fans happy and is far and above many attempts as Westerns since.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image was shot in real anamorphic 35mm Panavision by Director of Photography William A. Fraker, which is another reason it holds up as well as it does.Fraker is a great cameraman and makes the scope compositions work, even when the film does not.The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 48/24 5.1 mix upgrades the Dolby Digital theatrical mix which is often credited as a Dolby SR (Spectral Recording) advanced analog sound mix.It is possible the film began as SR and was changed by Disney to AC-3, but either way, the sound still shows some of its age and the resulting soundfield can be limited and even compressed in parts.


Extras include Trailers, TV Spots, the Directorís Original Storyboards and a Making Of Featurette, but fans will notice missing items like Cosmatosí feature length audio commentary, whose absence is unacceptable.



-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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