(Review originally written at 5 October 2006)

I'll admit that I'm not the biggest fan of the western genre, although the genre has definitely grown onto me the last couple of years. But even as a non-fan of the genre I've just always loved this movie.

A '90's western is per definition a rare thing. Even rarer is that it's also a great one. "Tombstone" is a movie made in the tradition of the old spaghetti westerns but with a flavor of '90's action added to it. The end result is a great to watch and spectacular movie.

Of course one of the reason why this movie is such a great one to watch is due to the story that is filled with some of the best known character of the wild west. The Earp brothers, Doc Holliday, Johnny Ringo etcetera. Everybody knows these persons, no introductions are required, which means that the story can do to them what they want without ever having to explain to much about their motivations or background. The movie is filled with well known characters, which are all portrayed by well known and excellent actors.

The cast is also definitely one of the things that distinct this movie from other genre movies. The movie basically has an all-star cast but on top of that every actor is well cast as well. They suit their roles fine and make sure that the all-star cast doesn't distract from the movie its story. The cast has both well known established actors, like Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Charlton Heston, Michael Biehn, among others and yet fairly unknown actors that now are well known names such as Thomas Haden Church, Billy Bob Thornton and Billy Zane. So I say, good casting!

It would be impossible to name and rate every actors performance in this movie but still I would like to mention a few. Kurt Russell works better than expected in the main part. Sam Elliott is solid as always and he delivers a powerful performance and puts down a strong character. Powers Boothe is truly great as Curly Bill Brocious, the leader of the cowboy-gang. Michael Biehn is also a great ruthless and hard tough cowboy, that also knows how to handle a pistol. Movie icons like Charlton Heston and Robert Mitchum as the narrator at the ending also show up in this movie. But obviously the one that steals the show, is Val Kilmer as Doc Holiday. It's a real shame that his performance was overlooked by the academy awards and any other award show for that matter. His performance is among the best of the '90's and definitely Kilmer's best till date.

All of the characters also work well on an emotional level. It makes this movie so much more than just another western but a solid drama about true friendship, brotherhood and loyalty. The movie even manages to put a love-story into the movie, which works in a non-distractive way which is of course a real positive thing,

The movie is basically filled with all of the western clichés and characters. You can say that this movie is a great homage to the good old westerns but that is also a great movie on its own. The movie is however not made in old western style but in '90's action style instead. This works surprisingly well for the movie and its story. It makes this movie perhaps the most awesome western ever made and an original one as well.

The movie is filled with some great and memorable moments. Lots of those moments feature Doc Holiday. A coincidence? I think not. It proofs how utterly brilliant Val Kilmer is in his role and how well his character works out in the movie. Especially the stand-off between Johnny Ringo and Doc Holiday is one to remember.

The movie might start off as a cliché filled western with nostalgic feelings but from the moment on when Wyatt's revenge starts, there is no holding back. The movie takes pace quickly and the movie turns into a non-stop action filled feast with some true awesome and well filmed moments, that are unforgettable.

The way the cowboys are portrayed as a early group of organized crime is an interesting take, which works well for the story and the events in it. It also is another reason why this movie distinct itself from other genre movies.

Visually the movie is great with some wonderful looking sets and costumes and a sweeping musical score from Bruce Broughton. I'll admit that the musical score is one of the biggest reasons why I love this movie so much. Broughton has composed some great musical scores over the years but yet he remains fairly unknown and underrated and mostly works on TV projects.

I just totally love this movie, although I'll admit that it's not a flawless one.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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