Tuesday, May 4, 2010

TOMBSTONE (Blu-Ray)

In 1993, there were two, big-budget Wyatt Earp Westerns released to theaters. Of the two, I've always found TOMBSTONE to be the more entertaining and satisfying film, energetically directed by George P. Cosmatos (RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART TWO, COBRA, LEVIATHAN) and packed with first-rate, manly actors such as Kurt Russell (ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK), Sam Elliot (ROADHOUSE), Bill Paxton (ALIENS, NEAR DARK), Michael Biehn (THE TERMINATOR, ALIENS), Powers Boothe (EXTREME PREJUDICE, RAPID FIRE), Charlton Heston (THE OMEGA MAN) and, in probably his best screen role, Val Kilmer (BATMAN FOREVER, KISS KISS BANG BANG) as "Doc" Holiday.

The film begins when the legendary Dodge City marshal, Wyatt Earp (Russell), his brothers Virgil (Elliot) and Morgan (Paxton), and old friend Holiday, arrive in Tombstone, Arizona to settle down and retire with their families. Earp no longer considers himself a lawman and just wants to make some money running a faro table at the local saloon. But the town is under the thumb of a violent outlaw gang known as "The Cowboys," and it's not long before the Earps find themselves in conflict with the gang and heading for a bloody showdown at the O.K. Corral....

Well-written by Kevin Jarre (who actually started directing the film before being replaced by the producers with the more experienced Cosmatos; reportedly, Russell actually filled in for a while between directors), TOMBSTONE is an epic, testosterone-dripping Western, filled with tough dialogue, great action scenes, sparkling performances and dry wit. It's stylishly shot by William A. Fraker, and action movie vet Cosmatos keeps it moving at a brisk pace. Kilmer's Holiday is the stand-out performance, but all of the actors acquit themselves admirably, with the male cast sporting some of the most astounding moustaches in cinema history!

The new Blu-Ray edition from Disney/Hollywood Pictures, sports an utterly flawless, 2.35:1 widescreen transfer in 1080p hi-def. Audio is a rousing, 5.1 DTS-HD. Bonus features include a "making of" documentary, storyboards, and theatrical trailers and TV spots. The version of the movie on this disc is the theatrical cut; the extended "Director's Cut" that was released on DVD in 2001 is not included, unfortunately. There's not a huge difference between the two, but it would have been nice to have all the TOMBSTONEs in the same place.

I'm a big fan of TOMBSTONE, and the new Blu-Ray presentation is excellent. If you're a fan of the film and own the old DVD, you'll want to upgrade (assuming that you're HD equipped). If you have a Blu-Ray player, and have never seen this highly enjoyable Western, check it out.

BUY: Tombstone [Blu-ray]