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Tombstone
BLU-RAY disk
04.30.2010 By: Chris Bumbray
Tombstone order
Director:
George P. Cosmatos

Actors:
Kurt Russell
Val Kilmer

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Ex-lawman Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell, and his brothers Virgil (Sam Elliot) and Morgan (Bill Paxton) set out for Tombstone, Arizona with their wives in the hopes of striking it rich. They discover that the town has been over-run by the Cowboys, a group of bloodthirsty bandits who roam the wild west terrorizing the weak. At first, Earp tries to turn a blind eye to the Cowboys, but once Virgil becomes the Town Marshall, and Virgil signs on as a deputy, Wyatt is drawn into the conflict to protect his brothers. Soon Wyatt, his best friend Doc Holiday (Val Kilmer)- a tuberculosis afflicted gambler and former dentist, and the other Earp brothers find themselves in a deadly showdown with the Cowboys at the O.K Corral, resulting in Wyatt and Doc cutting a path of vengeance across the Wild West in the hopes of destroying the Cowboys once and for all.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
TOMBSTONE is a film I remember fondly from my childhood. I've always been a big western fan, and I remember my father taking me to see this when it played in theatres. I loved it then, and I love it now. It's too bad that the western genre seems to be dead these days, with the exception of the excellent, elegiac art westerns, THE PROPOSITION, & THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD. TOMBSTONE is nothing like those films, but is rather a fun old-fashioned shoot em'up western, and hot damn- what a kick-ass flick.

I'd go so far as to say TOMBSTONE is a perfect film. The cast is perfect with Russell and Kilmer instantly iconic as Earp and Holiday (Kilmer is BY FAR the best Holiday ever portrayed on film, while Russell probably only comes in second as Earp to Henry Fonda in MY DARLING CLEMENTINE). The supporting cast is also great, with the `born to be in westerns` Sam Elliot making a damn fine western hero in his own right as the noble Virgil Earp, and Powers Booth, and Michael Biehn making incredible baddies, as Curly Bill and Johnny Ringo respectively. Stephen Lang, currently in the middle of a full blown career resurgence thanks to AVATAR is also memorable as the cowardly Ike Clanton, and the always finger-licking good Dana Delany making a great love interest for Earp. Also keep your eyes peeled for Jason Priestley, Billy Zane, Thomas Haden Church, and many others.

Now, there was a lot of drama behind the scenes of TOMBSTONE. One of the best things about the film is the script by Kevin Jarre, who originally signed on to direct the film. Forced to stick to a tight budget and deadline thanks to another Earp film (Kevin Costner's bomb- WYATT EARP), Jarre was sacked when he refused to cut the script. George P. Cosmatos, who directed the Stallone classics RAMBO:FIRST BLOOD PART 2, and COBRA is the credited director, but Russell now claims he was the de-facto director of the film (Cosmatos died a few years ago) backed up by the fact that he owns the vast amount of footage that was cut for the film before its release (sadly- this is the theatrical version, as a true director`s cut may never see the light of day).

One way Russell certainly helped the film was that he was humble enough to share the spotlight with the amazing supporting cast, so viewers may be surprised at how Earp is actually off-screen for a significant amount of time, with a lot of time being spent on Doc Holiday and the Cowboys. This works in the film`s favour, as Earp is established well enough, and Russell is so commanding that it never feels like the character is under-developed. Costner would have done well to learn by Russell`s example with his own EARP film, which ended up being little more than a three-hour ego trip (although it`s better than it`s rep would have you think- although nowhere near as good as TOMBSTONE).
THE EXTRAS
This is the one area the disc comes up short. All we get are trailers , TV SPOTS , and a few old EPKs and some storyboards . Ho-hum. No commentary, deleted scenes, or retrospective. Too bad, as this is a film crying out for a special edition.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
TOMBSTONE is a kick-ass Western, and for my money, one of the best big-studio blockbusters of the nineties. It`s a terrific film, sure to please both action and western fans, and, like me- don`t be surprised if you end up coming back to it year after year. The lack of bonus features is unfortunate, but the film and transfer are good enough to merit an easy recommendation.
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