Of the two films released within six
months of each other about the life and times of American West legend Wyatt Earp, this star-studded, classically told version is an easy pick.
It is a much less sprawling, much less indulgent, and much better
proportioned film than Kevin Costner's critical and box-office failure
In this version directed by George P. Cosmatos, we jump into the
action as Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday (played by Kurt Russell and
Val Kilmer) reunite just before going to the boomtown of Tombstone
in 1879, a year or two before that famous shootout at O.K. Corral.
Tombstone succeeds quite well at the tough task of introducing its
plethora of historical characters, many of whom play a secondary or
inconsequential role in the story that unfolds, but for whom the filmmakers
still manage to give some sort of elbowroom. And for most of its
running time, Tombstone recreates that
bustling, disorderly feel this world is thought to have had.
Granted, the film never leaves its Hollywood roots, and you're
always aware that you're watching a movie, but it's an entertaining
and economical viewing experience which never tries to be something it isn't.
The film is arguably better cast than acted, although that might
just be the trick when you're including as many characters as this.
Kurt Russell is a solid Wyatt Earp and does among his best work
here, but it is Val Kilmer who steals the show with his performance
as a sickly, condescending Doc Holliday.