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Tombstone (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 16, 2010 by  



Entertaining from beginning to end!  Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer shine in this 1993 film about Wyatt Earp, the gunfight at the O.K. Corral and more!  A solid Blu-ray release featuring the original theatrical release, beautiful cinematography and really clear lossless audio!

Image courtesy of © WDSHE. All Rights Reserved. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Tombstone

DURATION: 130 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:35:1 Widescreen), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA (48 kHz, 24-bit), Spanish and French 2.0 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, English ESL, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Hollywood Pictures/Buena Vista Home Entertainment

RATED: R (For Strong Western Violence)

RELEASE DATE: April 27, 2010

Directed by George P. Cosmatos

Written by Kevin Jarre

Executive Producer: Andrew G. Vajna

Produced by Sean Daniel, James Jacks, Bob Misiorowski

Associate Producer: John Fasano, Michael R. Sloan

Music by Bruce Broughton

Cinematography by William A. Fraker

Edited by Harvey Rosenstock, Roberto Silvi, Frank J. Urioste

Casting by Lora Kennedy

Production Design by Catherine Hardwicke

Art Direction by Chris Gorak, Kim Hix, Mark Worthington

Set Decoration by Gene Serdena, Brian Stewart

Costume Design by Joseph A. Porro

Starring:

Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp

Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday

Sam Elliott as Virgil Earp

Bill Paxton as Morgan Earp

Powers boothe as Curly Bill Brocius

Michael Biehn as Johnny Ringo

Charlton Heston as Henry Hooker

Jason Priestly as Deputy Bill Breckinridge

Jon Tenney as John Behan, Cochise County Sheriff

Stephen Lang as Ike Clanton

Thomas Haden Church as Billy clanton

Dana Delany as Josephine Marcus

Allie Earp as Paula Malcomson

Lisa Collins as Louisa Earp

Dana Wheeler-Nicholson as Mattie Blaylock Earp

Joanna Paula as Kate

Michael Rooker as Sherman McMasters

Harry Carey Jr. as Tombstone Marshal Fred White

Billy Bob Thornton as Johnny Tyler

Billy Zane as Mr. Fabian

Wyatt Earp as Billy Claiborne

A sizzling, star-studded cast brings to life the legendary battle to deliver justice to Tombstone, available for the first time on Blu-ray™ High Definition! Kurt Russell turns in a gripping performance as
U.S. Marshall Wyatt Earp and Val Kilmer ignites the screen as the outrageous Doc Holliday. Together, they team up to bring law to the lawless in a notorious showdown with the ruthless outlaws at the O.K. Corral! The all-star ensemble also includes Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, Dana Delany, Jason Priestley, Michael Biehn, and long-time Hollywood favorite Charlton Heston. Get ready for an explosive, actionpacked adventure the Wild West would never forget!

1993 and it was the battle between two films based on the iconic western figure Wyatt Earp.  Screenwriter Kevin Jarre (“The Mummy”, “Glory”, “Rambo: First Blood Part II”) and Kevin Costner were originally set to make the film together but due to a disagreement, Costner would go on to film “Wyatt Earp” while Kevin Jarre would take his script to Buena Vista for distribution and sure enough, it became a contest of sorts as who would get their movie out first and which one would dominate in the box office.

Fortunately, despite numerous problems on the set of “Tombstone”, if there is one thing that the film had was its all-star cast as Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Michael Biehn, Charlton Heston, Jason Priestly, Dana Delany, Thomas Haden Church, Billy Bob Thornton, Michael Rooker, Terry O’Quinn and many more.

Directing the film would be George P. Cosmatos (“Rambo: First Blood Part II”, “Leviathan”, “Shadow Conspiracy”), cinematography by William A. Fraker (“Rules of Engagement”, “Father of the Bride Part II”, “Street Fighter”) and music by Bruce Broughton (“Lost in Space”, “Bambi II”, “Tiny Toon Adventures”).

In the end, “Tombstone”earned $56 million domestically and did much better than Costner’s “Wyatt Earp” in the box office.

“Tombstone” is about retired peace officer Wyatt Earp (played by Val Kilmer) and his brothers Virgil (played by Sam Elliott) and Morgan (played by Bill Paxton) and their wives as they move to Tombstone, a small mining town in Arizona.  A town that is a growing mining town and a place the three can earn some money.  During this time, despite their being a sheriff and a marshal, the town is run by the Cowboys, ruthless outlaws that have scared towns and even lawmen, that pretty much the law has no affect on them.  The Cowboys are led by “Curly Bill” Brocious (played by Powers Boothe) and are known for sporting red sashes worn on their waist.

With Wyatt Earp’s name being quite well-known, there is interest in Wyatt returning to work as a lawman but he is not interested.  His goal is to be happily married and making money along with his brothers and hanging out with his friend Doc Holiday (played by Val Kilmer).  And things seem to go quite well until a beautiful performer named Josie Marcus (played by Dana Delany) enters his life.

AS the Earp brothers continuing to do well by running a gambling table at a local saloon, all is not good with “Curly Bill” Brocius accidentally kills the town marshal Fred White (Harry Carey, Jr.) during a drunken tirade.  Wyatt then knocks out “Curly Bill” Brocius, but when the Cowboys come and ask for Earp to let him go.  Earp is unwilling and wants Brocius to be judged in court and by going against the Cowboys, Wyatt upsets the Cowboys who vow to get back at him.

Unfortunately, even the judge has no interest in pursuing the case because of the notoriety of the cowboys and Brocius is eventually let go.   Bit all is not good in the town and Virgil and Morgan see the fear in the eyes of the people in town that they become the new marshals.  The brothers ask Wyatt to join them but Wyatt is disappointed as all he wanted is for them to make money.

Things continue to escalate between the Earp’s and the Cowboys in which the Cowboys issue a challenge towards the Earps.  The Earps along with Doc Holliday manage to outgun a few of the Cowboys but because the Earps killed some of their men, the Cowboys vow for revenge against the Earp’s by killing one of Wyatt’s brothers and going into the homes of the ladies and shooting at them.

Wyatt has no choice but to become a lawman once again and to exact vengeance for messing with him and his family and friends.

VIDEO:

“Tombstone” is presented in 1080 High Definition (2:35:1).  For the most part, the good news is that “Tombstone” looks very good on Blu-ray.  The cinematography by William A. Fraker is absolutely beautiful during some of the scenic shots overlooking the fields, the skyline, dusk and dawn.  While many parts of the film showcases many colors and for the most part, detail of the town, the saloon, the skin pores, etc. look great on Blu-ray, I noticed that the scenes look a bit dark at times.  I haven’t had the chance to compare with the original DVD release of “Tombstone” but there are times that seem as if shots were taken during overcast or the shadows of the hats are covering the faces of people.

But despite the dark look of some scenes, “Tombstone” definitely looks sharper and more contrast is seen on the Blu-ray release and blacks are nice and deep. Only one scene which was stock video where you a bit of aliasing but for the most part, I didn’t detect any major artifacts or blemishes.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Tombstone” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA (48 kHz/24-bit), French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.  Audio dialogue is quite clear and for the most part, the majority of the film is dialogue driven until you get into short action scenes at the O.K. Corral and the final half hour in which the film starts to have more action-based scenes.  But one of the things that you will notice is the use of the surrounds in terms of capturing the ambiance of the outdoor scenes.  I was watching when Wyatt and Josie were horseriding and are taking a break and all of a sudden I started hearing birds chirping and rustling the trees.  I thought that was pretty cool.  Also, you will hear the thunderstorms come to life and of course, the gun battle sequences in which you hear rifle shots, gun shots and more.  Overall, “Tombstone” sounds very good via lossless.

Subtitles are in English SDH, English ESL, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Tombstone” comes with the following special features in 480i, English 2.0 Dolby Digital audio and subtitles in English SDH, French and Spanish.  Included are:

  • The Making of Tombstone – (27:19) This featurette goes into the cast of Tombstone as they talk about their characters and filming a Western. Director George P. Cosmatos talking about making an authentic Western and the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
  • Director’s Original Storyboards – (4:00) A special feature showcasing the original storyboards of Director George P. Cosmatos.
  • Trailers and TV Spots – Featuring two theatrical trailers (:60 and :120) and the “Friends” TV spot (:30).

“Tombstone” is an enjoyable film and for those who enjoy Westerns and for those who like the stories of lawmen vs. the outlaws, the film is quite entertaining and a storyline in which both Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer actually do a remarkable job. Russell as the Wyatt Earp, the caring brother and also not afraid of anyone!  And Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday at his most charming and also his most vulnerable and how Kilmer plays off the sickly version of Holliday is really well-done.

But what I did enjoy about “Tombstone” when I first watched it over a decade ago, was how it tried to capture the life of Wyatt Earp and led to the “Gunfight of O.K. Corral” and “Wyatt Earp and the Immortals”.  Granted, the film is not exactly historically accurate and the adaptation would be of what took place had to receive the Hollywood touch but for the most part, it did capture many of the stories that took place especially with Virgil Earp becoming a marshal, some of the battles that took place and more.

If there was one thing that I was hoping for, it would be a more climactic battle between Wyatt and Curly Bill Brocius.  With Brocius being the leader of the Cowboys, I felt that the battle between both men was rather short.  Also, there were some scenes of certain characters that felt out of place and this goes with the troubled production as the original screenplay was longer and had a story emphasizing sub-plots of the various characters but was nixed.   The fact that “Tombstone” has quite a bit of starpower, I just felt that certain characters were never utilized and if they were, what was the purpose.  For example, why was Deputy Billy Breckinridge (played by Jason Priestly) even shown and also, with no historical fact towards his sexuality, why was she shown to have gay tendencies?  Also, the character of Sherman McMasters (played by Michael Rooker), just an added scene showing why he broke off with the Cowboys would have been nice to see as well.

As for the Blu-ray, the film definitely looks and sounds better than its predecessor.  It’s important to note that the Blu-ray version features the 130-minute version and not the 135-minute director’s cut version of “Tombstone”.  Missing is the audio commentary by director George P. Cosmatos and also “The Tombstone Epitaph – Actual Newspaper Account” featured in the Director’s Cut Televista DVD version.  But the making-of featurette, director’s original storyboards and trailers remain intact.  But you can’t help but be pleased with this Blu-ray release.

Overall, “Tombstone” was an enjoyable Western that I have seen a good number of times.  Does it rank high compared to the best Western’s out there?  Definitely not but in my opinion, it’s the best Wyatt Earp film that I have seen yet and it’s a film that I just found enjoyable from beginning to end.  Definitely recommended!

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