1836, after an earlier defeat Mexican dictator Santa Ana (Echevarrķa)
gathers a bigger army to take back the strategic stronghold, The Alamo.
Overly confident after their last victory, a make shift Texican army lead
by William Travis (Wilson), backed up a rag-tag militia under the command
of legendary knife fighter James Bowie (Patric) are dispatched by General
Houston (Quaid) to remove the cannons and bring the remaining troops back.
Joined by Davy Crockett (Thornton), they think this an easy mission until
the Mexican army arrive.
Epic historical drama with recreations of battles that defined
an era have become very common over the past few years, so recreating the
last stand at The Alamo must have seems like a good idea. It is just a shame
that the studio didn't have the guts to push it as far as they could.
Recreating an epic historical battle for the big screen in
modern times means that realism is pushed to the maximum, as the filmmakers
take the viewer into the action, as if they where a soldier themselves.
The true horror of battle needs to be recreated so that future generations
can appreciate the sheer courage and the ultimate sacrifice these people
made. War should not be glorified it should be shown as a necessity only
in the troubled of times, when liberty and freedom are threatened. The Alamo
doesn't really do this.
The decision by financers Disney to reduce the realism of
the battle to enable the film to receive a lower classification leads to
a movie that suffers from a lack of realism due to the absence of blood
or any serious injury been show graphically on screen. Some may argue that
gore is not needed to portray the gravity of the battle but when the power
of the 18lb cannon only seems to knock the Mexicans over and blow off their
hats, realism seems to have taken a back seat. This kind of warfare was
extremely bloody but the decision not to show this only degrades the story.
The script is also filled with so many holes that you would
think that the writers had turned the cannon on themselves. Many of the
characters do not have enough of their backstory explained to do these historical
figures justice. The writers seem to assume that the audience already know
the history of many of these legendary figures but this assumption produces
too many questions for a non-American audience. For example "Why is there
tension between William Travis and Jim Bowie?" "Why did Davy Crockett come
to the Alamo, as General Houston offered him land just to join him" and
"If the Alamo was so important, why didn't Santa Ana leave any troops there
after winning the battle?" All these questions and more are completely unanswered.
The cast do there best with the material but only two of them
produce really memorable performances. Billy Bob Thornton is tremendous
as the legendary Davy Crockett. He plays the part as a man who is struggling
to live up to his own reputation. He is a normal man who has been made extraordinary
by a play based loosely on his life and everywhere he goes it follows him
like a dark, foreboding shadow that he can never loose. Thornton plays this
superbly, making Crockett vulnerable, even scared at times but still heroic
to the end.
Emilio Echevarrķa is also good as Mexican dictator Santa Ana.
He plays the man with a slight hint of madness as he see himself as the
Napoleon of the New World but has to surpass French leaders achievements.
He is a man who will gain power however many men it costs.
The rest of the cast don't really fair as well. Each of them
suffers from vastly underwritten roles that don't reveal enough about the
character so that the actor can get to grips with it. Dennis Quaid doesn't
have a lot to do as General Houston but give two speeches and utter the
immortal line. Jason Patric's Jim Bowie has a few key scenes early on and
then spends the rest of the movie in bed ill. Patrick Wilson's William Travis
fairs a little better but comes across as an unsure commander who struggled
to gain the loyalty of his men. The rest make so little impact that you
don't even know their names.
The Alamo is a wasted opportunity that could have brought
some realism to the legendary tale. What we have instead is a glossy, Hollywood
version that doesn't have the guts to portray the events with any kind of
Will you remember The Alamo? Probably not.
Presented in 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen with a Dolby Digital
5.1 soundtrack, the transfer is very good. The grandeur of fabulous sets
and the epic spectacle of the battle are brought to life vividly via an
excellent quality picture. The sound is also very good, filling the speakers
during the battle sequence, engulfing you in a cavalcade of sound.
Return of the Legend: The Making of the Alamo (18.09 mins)
Director John Lee Hancock, producer Mark Johnson, director of photography
Dean Semler, production designer Michael Corenblith, set decorator Carla
Curry, costume designer Daniel Orlandi, prop master Don Miloyovich, re-enactment
coordinator J.R. Flournoy, armourer Brian F. Maynard, special effects coordinator
Larz Anderson and stars Billy Bob Thornton, Dennis Quaid, Jason Patric and
Patrick Wilson take you behind the scenes of the making of 'The Alamo'.
Showing you the huge set, the costumes and props, the re-enactments, the
weapons and the cameras involved in recreating the historic battle, the
featurette others a fascinating insight into the making of an historical
Set Tour (4.27 mins)
Take a tour of the 51-acre set that comprises of over 70 buildings. Here
we see the attention to detail of both the exteriors and interiors as the
production designers tried to accurately recreate The Alamo and the town
of San Antonia.
Deleted Scenes (4.59 mins)
With optional commentary by director John Lee Hancock, these four deleted
scenes entitled 'Batres meets Tejana', 'A wedding plan', 'Santa Anna marries',
and 'A Mexican candle dance' remove a Mexican subplot completely from the
An average film gets an average DVD treatment. The featurette
is good, offering a fascinating insight into making of a period film but
the absence of a commentary track, especially when the deleted scenes have
one, makes this a very average package. Fans will be slightly disappointed
but it might be worth a rent for those of you who can't remember The Alamo.
The Alamo (1960)
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