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?

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Gladiator (2000)


Today I Saw a Slave Become More Powerful Than the Emperor of Rome.

Today’s contest was admittedly difficult to manage.  I decided that I would pick a movie from the drama genre, but as I’ve mentioned many times, I hate dramas.  How would I be able to pick a movie that depressed me and call it my favorite?  I would have to be deceptive and find a movie that was inarguably a drama, but perhaps with enough elements of a type of movie I do like it will overcome the melancholy.  And that’s when it struck me.  I could think of a movie that was definitely a drama but with plenty enough action in it that I wouldn’t hate watching it.  It’s also one of my favorite movies, so the decision was clear.  I would call Gladiator my favorite drama, written by David H. Franzoni, John Logan, and William Nicholson, directed by Ridley Scott, and starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Richard Harris, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Djimon Hounsou, Derek Jacobi, David Schofield, John Shrapnel, Tomas Arana, and Ralph Moeller.

The great warrior and general Maximus Decimus Meridius (Russell Crowe) leads a victory for the Romans over the Germanic tribes.  The dying emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris) makes the decision to make Maximus the leader of Rome so that he can return the power to the people.  When he informs his son, Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), of his decision, Commodus murders him.  Maximus realizes what happened, but is betrayed by General Quintus (Tomas Arana) and sentenced to be executed, as well as his wife (Giannina Facio) and his son (Giorgio Cantarini).  Maximus escapes his execution and rushes back to find his family already dead.  He buries them and is later found unconscious by slavers and sold to Proximo (Oliver Reed), and forced to become a gladiator.  With Commodus reinstating the games in honor of his dead father (even though his father disbanded them), Maximus figures that, if he performs well, he will be able to stand before the new emperor and finally have his vengeance.

This is how I take my drama movies: barely being able to be considered a drama.  It’s great action and a great story, but with a fair share of drama mixed in.  Revenge is an easy but great motivator in movies.  The movie starts itself off pretty strong with the war in the beginning, but then I start getting emotionally invested when Commodus not only kills the likeable emperor, but also tries to kill Maximus and succeeds in killing his family.  I’m instantly on board.  I love Maximus and I hate Commodus.  That keeps me interested past the satisfying, albeit a little depressing, conclusion, and I enjoy the entire ride.  The dialogue in the movie is extremely well-written as well.  Most of it’s very crisp and stinging, including a lot of smarter versions of “fuck you”.  Any time that Commodus is talking with Maximus, every line ends with a version of “fuck your face”.  I was confused by the relationship between Commodus and Lucilla though.  I don’t know if it was more common back then, but Commodus was really aching to jump Lucilla’s bones, regardless of the fact that they were brother and sister.  They never said half-siblings or step-siblings, so I just found it weird.  That part of the movie felt like watching Clueless all over again.  The movie was beautifully filmed though.  It starts off really cold and blue and gritty when they’re in Germania, bright and hot and orange in the middle when he’s first becoming a gladiator, and colorful and bright and beautiful when they’re in the majesty of Rome.  The recreation of Rome was fantastic as well.  The fights are what really interest me about this movie, and they’re all great.  Not a lot of flourish to the fights, but every one of them was exciting and awesome.  Maximus never seemed to be the strongest or the fastest, and was never super human in any way, but he won all of his fights with skill and cunning.  They’re gory and exciting and you’re always rooting for the home team.

The performances are what set this movie apart for me.  Them and the action.  But the performances were really good.  Russell Crowe was great all the way through the movie.  I’d say there was one part that was iffy with me, but it was only partially his fault.  When he was crying over his dead wife and kid he had snot running out of his nose and drool coming out of his mouth.  Then he kissed the feet of his wife and had it sticking to her feet.  They probably should have taken that out with CG or something.  I found it not only distracting, but icky.  Also, in the part where he was kissing the wooden figures that represented his wife and son, he got a little too freaky deaky with the figure representing his wife.  He’d been alone for a while though.  I hated Joaquin Phoenix from the very first time I saw him, but that’s a credit to him because we weren’t supposed to like him at all.  He played the role so utterly despicable in every way, but it wasn’t in a cartoony way.  You could kind of get a handle on his motivations, though it doesn’t justify his actions.  And the entire movie we watch his slow descent into madness and paranoia, and he pulls that off very well.  Connie Nielsen was a good character as well.  I started off not trusting her because she always acted as if something was going on behind the scenes.  As they say in the movie, she would make a great leader if she was a man.  But, by the end of the movie, you side with her as her brother’s craziness starts getting to her as well.  And mother fuckin’ Dumbledore was up in this bitch!  Richard Harris is always great though.

It doesn’t come as any kind of a surprise that Gladiator is an awesome movie.  Yes, it’s a drama, and it’s also a bit mopey at times, but the action and the excitement override that, and the story is something that gets me involved almost immediately.  The action is great, the look is fantastic, and the performances are all top notch.  You don’t always like all of the characters, but they’re very well performed.  If you have managed to not see Gladiator by this point, I hate you.  Fix it or we’ll have troubles.  Gladiator gets “Smile for me now, brother” out of “At my signal, unleash hell!”

Congratulations to Fabio, who guessed my favorite drama correctly, despite his learning disability.

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

The Bodyguard (1992)


Lord, Why Couldn’t You Have Taken Bobby?!

Unfortunately, my week-long trip to Arizona was not all smiles and sunshine.  Tragedy struck as the entire world realized that sometimes singers are just singers, and sometimes have drug problems, and also American soldiers die all the time without mention, but let’s talk about Whitney Houston instead.  I’m kidding … kind of.  But the lady singer did pass away while I was on vacation, causing many people to be completely devastated, causing my sister to request that I review today’s movie, and causing me to immediately think “Oh, it was probably drugs” and move on with my breakfast.  But Whitney Houston was still an amazing singer and I feel as though I should pay tribute to her because of her passing, both with the review of a movie she was in and a somewhat spiteful opening paragraph.  With that, I give you my review of The Bodyguard, written by Lawrence Kasdan, directed by Mick Jackson, and starring Kevin Costner, Whitney Houston, Tomas Arana, Michele Lamar Richards, Bill Cobbs, Gary Kemp, Mike Starr, DeVaughn Walter Nixon, Christopher Birt, Robert Wuhl, and Debbie Reynolds.

Because no one in movies is ever allowed to be the second or third best of the best, Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner) is a former Secret Service Agent who now works as the best of the best bodyguards for people.  He generally works exclusively for presidents and corporate VIPs, but is painstakingly talked into protecting a celebrity named Rachel Marron (Whitney Houston) by her manager Bill Devaney (Bill Cobbs).  Along with her recent nomination for an Oscar, Marron has acquired a new stalker, but not one of the cool ones that are quirky and funny, but generally harmless … like me …  She instead gets one of those stalkers that somehow justifies his desire to kill her with how much he loves her.  Frank comes in and starts fixing all of the holes in her personal security, much to the chagrin of her current bodyguard Tony (Mike Starr), her sister Nikki (Michele Lamar Richards), and her publicist Sy Spector (Gary Kemp).  Her driver Henry (Christopher Birt) and her son Fletcher (DeVaughn Walter Nixon) seem okay with it.  Frank’s efforts to protect Rachel don’t go well, due to the incompetence of her existing crew, and her own random bitchiness directed at him.  Will Frank have the ability, and the patience, to protect this singer?

My opinion of anything will not be swayed by a person’s death.  I didn’t find Kurt Cobain, Chris Farley, or Michael Jackson any more special after their untimely demises than I did before their death.  I say that so that the proper amount of weight will be applied to the following statement: the only reason anyone remembers this movie at all is because of Whitney Houston.  She single-handedly elevated this movie beyond being entirely forgettable to being slightly above mediocre.  The weirdest part of that statement is that I intended it to be a compliment.  The story of this movie does not really work that well.  It’s got a thriller aspect to it that never really works that well because of how predictable the killer, and motive, is very early in the film.  More memorably, this movie is a love story … that also never really works because it barely makes sense.  Rachel is such a dirty bitch to Frank for the greater majority of the movie that I can’t understand Frank having any desire to be around her beyond the fact that Houston was fucking gorgeous at the time.  So I understand why he smashes that, but then he sticks around afterwards, driving her off with some nonsense about how he can’t protect her if he cares about her, which turns her into an even bigger bitch.  In her defense, she could’ve just had residual anger at him for the part where he shows off how sharp his katana is by cutting her scarf in half.  But the entire premise of that situation doesn’t make any sense at all.  What the fuck do you mean you can’t protect her if you’re falling in love with her and sleeping with her from time to time?  As I understand it, boyfriends and husbands are able to combine those two things with a fair degree of frequency!  This is hardly the only thing in this movie that doesn’t make sense to me.  At one point, everyone looks at Frank like he’s a madman because he suggests that Rachel go to brunch on Tuesday instead of her usual day.  Am I missing something?  Is there a designated day for brunching and Tuesday is just a major faux pas?  Later, Rachel catches Frank watching one of her movies intently, but is pretty much only able to tell what he is watching in the guest house (from the main house) because he is apparently playing it at the maximum volume that a human can listen to without their ears bleeding.  Also, I know that they were trying to show a great many things to illustrate how shitty Rachel’s security would be without Frank, but how would security personnel keep their job when they not only allow Milli Vanilli lookalikes to rush up on stage to dance with Rachel, but also allow it to get out of hand and have her get pulled into the audience that then tries to do everything it can to rob/rape her.  They don’t get to the rape, but it would’ve just been a matter of time.  The final, and greatest, omission of logic must be bracketed by ::SPOILER ALERT::  The sister did it.  Yes, I know, it’s shocking once you randomly hear her tell Frank about how she and Rachel got their start, not even barely concealing her excruciating jealousy for her sister, that she would eventually be the cause of it.  I half expected the end of the movie to be Frank unmasking her as she yelled “I would’ve gotten away with it if it weren’t for you meddling Secret Service Agents!”  The predictability of it isn’t the only problem, it’s also fuckin’ insane!  I understand the concept of being jealous of your sibling.  Not through personal experience, because I’m so fucking awesome, but I understand how my sister feels living in my shadow.  But I also feel pretty sure that she wouldn’t try to kill me because of it.  I figured the sister in this movie might pay someone to scare the shit out of Rachel with death threats, but perhaps the person went off the rails and took it too far.  But for the sister to be so jealous (even though she’s living in luxury because of her sister) goes way too far.  ::END SPOILERS::

I think it is not going too far to assume that the only reason any of us remember this movie is because of the songs.  More specifically, the song.  Whitney Houston has mad pipes, son!  They display a couple of Whitney’s songs in this movie, but one of them specifically takes the cake.  They use “I Have Nothing”, “I’m Every Woman”, and “Run to You”, all of which are pretty damned good songs, but the one song no one should be able to forget is “I Will Always Love You”.  If you don’t get goosebumps listening to this song at the end of this movie – especially knowing now that she’s no longer with us – I believe you are an asshole.  What occurred to me about that song was that I never really knew this song wasn’t always Whitney’s.  It was apparently written by Dolly Parton, but I don’t know that version of the song.  In the movie, they played what sounded like a guy singing it in a country fashion, and this amused me because of how much Whitney blows that version out of the water at the end of the movie.  It’s such a heartfelt and touching song, which makes me think much less of the “Queen of the Night” song that immediately follows it in the credits.

The performances in this movie were mostly forgettable.  Whitney was, by far, the only person in this movie that impressed.  Not only was she an amazing singer, but she was a solid actress too.  She probably wasn’t playing a character that was all that far removed from herself, but she was very believable.  The dialogue she was delivering was a little stilted in parts, and the part where she asks Kevin Costner out on a date was awkwardly delivered and strangely justified, but I don’t blame either of those things on her.  The writing was just a little soft in parts of this movie.  Whitney, you are good enough.  Kevin Costner?  Eh, not so much.  No, he was fine.  He just didn’t impress.  It seemed like there was a very good chance that he actually had no real training with weaponry or Secret Service tactics.  Take, for instance, the time when he was telling Rachel’s sister to stay put downstairs as he investigated the noises upstairs.  I’m pretty sure lesson one of Guns 101 is “Don’t gesture at people’s faces with a loaded gun.”  The second rule is we don’t talk about … that girl we just accidentally shot in the face and dumped in the lake.  One could also make the argument that actual Secret Service agents don’t do action hero moves like diving through a window, somersaulting, and landing on your feet.  I think they just go through the door.  I think they also don’t really recommend being in the middle of a shootout, kneeling down in the snow, and closing your eyes, presumably to better use the Force to defeat his opponent.  Unfortunately, the Force was not strong with this one.  The only person in this movie that gave me anything to think about was the insignificant character that attempts to hit on Costner as Whitney tries to make Costner jealous by taking Tomas Arana into a back room, but that’s only because that girl looks a lot like a post-menopausal Gozer.

I’m pretty sure I’ve just put all the words down that could be written about this movie.  It’s a thoroughly mediocre movie with thoroughly mediocre performances, and would have been forgotten entirely by now if it weren’t for the efforts of the recently deceased.  By being quite possibly the best actor in this movie, and delivering immensely enjoyable songs, she made this a movie that will be (and probably already has been) remembered much longer than the movie would deserve otherwise.  Because it’s regarded as a classic, I imagine it will not be long until I endeavor to add this movie to my collection, assuming I can find it for somewhere within the five to ten dollar range.  It’s definitely something you can watch and not hate that much, but you can skip to the good parts by purchasing the soundtrack instead.  The Bodyguard gets “You people have no clue what real security is or what it takes to achieve it” out of “The atomic number of zinc is thirty.”  We’ll miss you, Whitney.

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