Tombstone (1993)


You Tell ‘Em I’m Comin … And Hell’s Comin With Me!

It’s come time for me to say what my favorite movie of all time is.  This has always been a difficult question for me to answer as I usually just have a sliding scale of “Like” or “Dislike” for movies, but don’t usually make the claim of having an actual favorite.  What I determined to do was to just pick a movie that I really like and just say it’s my favorite.  I used to say it was The Crow, but eventually decided that there was at least one movie that I find completely awesome every time I watch it.  It’s never aged for me, it’s in one of my favorite genres, and it has the hands down best performance by more than a few people in the cast.  This movie would become the movie I would say is my favorite ever.  Whether or not it truly is my favorite is debatable, but we’ll see if its awesomeness is when I review Tombstone, written by Kevin Jarre, directed by George P. Cosmatos, and starring Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Michael Biehn, Stephen Lang, Thomas Haden Church, Tomas Arana, Dana Delany, Michael Rooker, Buck Taylor, Peter Sherayko, Terry O’Quinn, Jon Tenney, Billy Zane, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, Joanna Pacula, Paula Malcomson, Lisa Collins, Harry Carey Jr., and Billy Bob Thornton.

Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) and his brothers Virgil (Sam Elliott) and Morgan (Bill Paxton) go to Tombstone, Arizona with the hope of finding their fortunes.  Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer) is already doing alright for himself with gambling and shooting, but he goes to Tombstone as well to hang out with his buddy Wyatt.  Even though he’s married to Mattie Blaylock (Dana Wheeler-Nicholson), Wyatt starts developing feelings for a travelling actress named Josephine Marcus (Dana Delany).  Wyatt takes a job as a dealer at a saloon and gets some friction from a band of outlaws called the Cowboys, and more specifically their leader “Curly Bill” Brocious (Powers Boothe), Johnny Ringo (Michael Biehn), Ike Clanton (Stephen Lang), and Billy Clanton (Thomas Haden Church), but the Cowboys are somewhat comforted by the fact that Wyatt is retired as a peace officer and has no interest in taking the law into his own hands.  That being the case, when Curly Bill kills Marshal Fred White (Harry Carey Jr.) while high on opium, Wyatt pistol whips him and takes him into custody.  Ike and Billy try to get Wyatt to release Curly Bill, but find themselves out-awesomed and leave.  Tensions continue to mount and, if you’ve read your awesome history of the West, you know some shit’s about to go down at the O.K. Corral.

I am still perfectly comfortable saying this movie is my favorite movie of all time.  There are definite contenders for the title, but this movie is definitely up there.  You probably can’t give a whole lot of credit to the story as it seems to mostly stick to what actually happened, or at least what is said happened around then.  Watching this movie always makes me start looking up information about what happened in Tombstone and it’s apparently hard to find solid information about it because most people in the town were biased either towards the Cowboys or the Earps.  This movie obviously takes the side of the Earps, and I’m okay with that.  It turns out very awesome, so I wouldn’t dare complain.  I’m sure it’s not 100% historically accurate, but I don’t watch this movie for a history lesson.  As it pertains to the movie, they show what they need to when they need to, and I like that.  They even do something to show the character’s personality right in their introduction to save time.  Wyatt Earp starts off by hitting a guy for whipping his horse, showing that he’s hardcore and big into justice.  Doc Holliday starts off coughing and being hilarious and awesome at a poker table.  Johnny Ringo shoots a priest in the head soon after we meet him.  Now we know who we’re dealing with.  The story is pretty damned solid too.  It starts off with just the tension building between the Earps and the Cowboys, and the Earps’ sense of justice leading them to feel they should get involved.  And the first good portion of the movie – assuming you know about Wyatt Earp and the others – is just building up for the most famous gunfight in American history: the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.  And it does not disappoint.  From what I’ve read, it’s around 90% accurate to what actually happened, which adds weight to the scene.  It’s not only awesome because it’s awesome; it’s also awesome because it feels like we’re time-travelling to watch it.  And the last big chunk of the movie is watching Earp’s Vendetta Ride, which is also very awesome.  All of the action in the movie was great.  They only went for the classic tension building before a quick draw contest twice and the rest of the action was regular shootouts and fist fights, but they were all awesome.  The Vendetta Ride was mostly just a series of montages, displaying any random images of people looking awesome while shooting guns, but it was great and time-saving.  Some of the “action” in the movie was even hilarious, and I’m mainly referring to the part where Johnny Ringo is showing off by twirling his gun around and Doc Holliday responds by doing the same with his cup.  I would say that the dialogue in the movie was great, but I think I mainly mean that Doc Holliday’s dialogue was great.  Everyone else only got to occasionally say something awesome, but almost everything Doc said was fantastic.  I think one of my favorite lines in cinema history is Doc Holliday saying, “I’ve got two guns, one for each of ya.”

I also loved every performance in this movie.  Almost every male character in the movie was a stone cold badass.  But let’s face facts: Val Kilmer steals this movie.  Val Kilmer looks like the Devil in the greater majority of this movie.  Pale skin, red around the eyes, often bleeding from the mouth, and even has that goatee goin’ on.  He was fucking awesome in this movie.  He’s hilarious and badass in equal measure.  Kurt Russell is also a bona fide badass in this movie.  He took care of the majority of his problems in this movie with sheer intimidation, not even requiring that he use a gun.  He made a little bitch out of Billy Bob Thornton and Stephen Lang on more than one occasion.  Michael Biehn was also epically badass.  The way he talked always made me think there was something supernatural about him as most people talked as if he sold his soul to the devil for his killing prowess.  I believed it.  Sam Elliott is also entirely enjoyable, and that’s not something that surprised me.  Not only is he usually great, but he seems to be made for westerns.  I think I would’ve found more conflict if Wyatt’s wife, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, was ever a likeable character.  I didn’t really care that she got left behind.  She was a drug addict and a bit of a bitch, whereas Dana Delany was fun-loving and free-spirited.  Seems like an easy decision to me.

Tombstone may not be the smartest movie you’ve ever seen, but it will probably be at least a contender for the most awesome.  The story is easy enough because it’s based on historical data, but it’s also based on some of the most awesome historical data in American history.  It’s compelling, it’s exciting, and I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but it’s pretty awesome as well.  All of the people in this movie perform greatly, but I think we can all agree that Val Kilmer steals the show.  I love this movie, and you should as well.  Tombstone gets “Make no mistake, it’s not revenge he’s after.  It’s a reckoning” out of “In Pace Requiescat.”

Who here’s shocked to hear that Chris won this one again?  Fuck this guy, am I right?

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Frailty (2002)


Killing People is Wrong, Destroying Demons is Good

Today’s movie comes as another review request, this time from my friend Ryan.  The movie did not escape my radar, but I never got visual confirmation on it.  That is an overly complicated way to say that I knew about it, but never saw it.  And to even say I knew about it perhaps goes too far.  I had seen the DVD on the shelves at stores, knew who was in it, vaguely knew it was horror, and that about covers it.  And I do greatly appreciate it when these requests make me watch a movie I hadn’t already seen, even if that movie is horrible.  Is this movie horrible?  Let’s find out in my review of Frailty, written by Brent Hanley, directed by and starring Bill Paxton, and starring Matt O’Leary, Jeremy Sumpter, Matthew McConaughey, Levi Kreis, Powers Boothe, Luke Askew, and Missy Crider.

We start off the story in a police office in Dallax, Texas.  Agent Wesley Doyle (Powers Boothe) enters his office to talk to a man, who introduces himself as Fenton Meiks (Matthew McConaughey).  Fenton tells Doyle that a rash of serial killings known as the “God’s Hand” killings are being committed by his brother, Adam (Levi Kreis).  Asked to explain, Meiks jumps into flashback.  When Adam (Jeremy Sumpter) and Fenton (Matt O’Leary) were kids, they lived a pretty normal life with their unnamed dad, Dad (Bill Paxton).  Normal, until Dad wakes up one night, stares at his bowling trophy, and decides he’s gotten a message from God.  This message is that he needs to start destroying demons, and he’ll be sent three magical weapons and a list that he’ll use to do so.  These demons will look like normal people, but they’re demons.  There is no other explanation for this than divine intervention.  Let’s kill some people!  …I mean destroy demons.  Adam is totally on board with Dad, but Fenton would rather be a stick in the mud.  Dad assures Fenton that their sins will be revealed to the family when he lays his hands on the demons.  God sends Dad the weapons in the form of a magical lead pipe to knock out the demons, magical gardening gloves so their sins aren’t revealed before justice time, and an axe with ‘Otis’ carved into the handle.  As Dad starts getting into the destruction of demons, Adam feels that he too can see the sins of the demons with Dad lays his hands on them, but Fenton sees nothing beyond his father murdering people with an axe.  Generally speaking, this doesn’t work out well for Fenton, but he must figure out what to do about Dad.

I mostly liked this movie.  Well, technically I guess I’d say I did like the movie, but I had story issues that are spoilers and I’ll get to later.  I found the story itself very intriguing.  As a religious person, you might expect I would find this movie upsetting because God is causing this guy to kill people.  As a rational person, you might expect I would find it upsetting because this nutjob with his Jesus crutch is killing people.  But, as me, I just found this to be a good, intriguing watch.  I did have a lot of the Jesus crutch reaction, but I’ll get into that when I spoil in the next paragraph.  There were a few parts that confused me about the movie, but they didn’t stop me from enjoying it.  When Paxton and Fenton go to kill Fenton’s first demon, the “demon” guy is very creepy and tries to attack them, but this is never explained at all.  As far as he knows, it’s just a guy and his kids with a flat tire.  Why was he attacking?  This part stuck in my brain as a problem a lot longer than it probably should have.  But, again, this didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the movie.

::SPOILER ALERT:: Let’s talk about what did take away from my enjoyment: the ending.  Throughout the entire movie, you’re never given any reason to believe that Paxton is anything but looney.  You’re being told the story in a flashback from someone that you believe is Fenton, the person who didn’t believe Dad and Adam.  In the end, it turns out that not only is the story being told by grown up Adam (McConaughey lying and saying he’s Fenton), but there is a greater possibility that God actually is leading them to kill people.  When Adam touches the hand of Powers Boothe, he sees that Boothe killed his own mother and that paralyzes Boothe into being unable to attack Adam.  Also, the people that let Adam in to see Agent Doyle inexplicably remembered nothing about Adam and even didn’t recognize him when they saw him again, and the surveillance footage had an imperfection that blocked his face.  I believed Paxton was a lunatic for the entire movie because my version of God wouldn’t tell someone to go kill things.  The way this movie ends seems to almost endorse the idea that some people may be doing the right thing to go out and kill for God.  The reason I’m torn about the ending is because they path they took was the one with the interesting twist, but the horrible message.  I’ll say it for this movie: “Just enjoy watching it, but don’t listen to your bowling trophy if it tells you to kill people.”  ::END SPOILERS::

It turns out McConaughey is a monkey!  HAHA!  Spoilers were NOT really over!  Okay, I’m just kidding.  Let’s talk acting.  McConaughey puts on a pretty solid performance here, and by that I mean he gets his shirt off by the second time you see him.  COME ON, DUDE!  Ah, who’m I kidding?  If I had sweet abs, I’d never wear a shirt either.  But he is fairly solid in this movie, but he’s also scarcely in it.  When he is, he’s pretty apprehensive and beaten down as you would expect Fenton to be after what you see him go through, and he changes persona in the very end.  When he’s not in the movie, he’s played by Matt O’Leary, who performs very well for the most part.  He’s the only one who doesn’t believe what’s going on is divinely inspired and he can’t get help because he loves his father but knows he has to do something and starts doubting religion because of it.  He pulls off the conflict very well.  Both versions of Adam are barely featured here.  Powers Boothe was alright.  No complaints.  Oh wait…  That dude was Curly Bill in Tombstone?  I’m going to up my response to his performance.  He was now the greatest actor ever.  Okay, he wasn’t even the greatest in this movie.  Bill Paxton stole the show, and why wouldn’t he?  He did direct the thing.  But he does crazy well, and he also does loveable well, so he did this part perfectly.  He was crazy, but he was also a good dad, so you can understand Fenton’s conflict.

There you go, Ryan.  Thanks and you’re welcome.  Thanks because I did like this movie.  Interesting story with a nice twist ending, although that same ending kind of kicked any positive message in the balls.  The performances were also very good.  And, of course, you’re welcome because I just typed over 1200 words for you.  Frailty is definitely worth a rental, though I don’t think it’s on Netflix streaming, and I doubt you’ll find it in a RedBox, but you should rent it at least.  I think it’d probably be a pretty cheap purchase by now, and I may do just that.  Altogether, I will give Frailty “We’re just fulfilling God’s will” out of “Sometimes truth defies reason”.

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