Friday, July 25, 2014

The Alamo (2004)

Director: John Lee Hancock

Writers: Leslie Bohem, Stephen Gaghan, John Lee Hancock

Composer: Carter Burwell

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Billy Bob Thornton, Jason Patric, Patrick Wilson, Emilio Echevarria, Jordi Molla, Leon Rippy, Tom Davidson, Marc Blucas, Marc Blucas, Rance Howard

More info: IMDb

Tagline: You will never forget

Plot: Based on the 1836 standoff between a group of Texan and Tejano men, led by Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie, and Mexican dictator Santa Anna's forces at the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

I haven't seen the 1960 film (and it's been sitting on my shelf for years) but this film makes me want to sooner than later.  I've been to the Alamo in San Antonio and the thing that strikes me each time is how small it is.  It's a remarkable thing standing inside those walls imagining what those poor bastards had to go through, knowing they were all going to be fighting until their last breath.  This film takes some liberties with the truth here and there but they make for a better cinematic experience, that is if you're inclined to seek out the facts of the situation.  This film isn't a lie but they play around with some stuff that makes you wonder.  The fighting is largely shown close up.  It would have been nice to pull the camera back a few times to get an idea of the scope.  It's too easy to show a bunch of shots of close combat and it adds to the frenetic energy of the film which also means it's harder for the viewer to focus on any one thing and soak it in.  Carter Burwell's score was hit and miss.  I generally Love this guy's work but it felt too minimalist.  As I'm preparing this I've been watching the Coen Bros. flick BURN AFTER READING (2008) with a score by Burwell, their go to composer for every one of their films, and his style works well with their pictures.  The performances are pretty good with Billy Bob Thornton coming off tops as Davy Crockett.  Dennis Quaid's Sam Houston is ornery and scowls in every...single...scene.  Here's the range of his emotion...

I did really enjoy what Hooker & Co. did after the battle at the Alamo was over.  It was nice seeing, albeit too briefly, what happened in the days that followed and how General Santa Ana's final fight with the Texans ended.  That's the best part of the film.  I'm going to have to dust off that 1960 film and give it a whirl.  I'm sure it plays fast and loose with the truth but it'll be high adventure and it's got Richard Boone as 'ole Sammy Houston.  That should be lots of fun.

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