The Alamo - if you're able to say that title without immediately thinking of film icon Marion Morrison, then you're either no movie buff... or a mere youth! For this middle aged DVD reviewer the title will be forever associated with Marion... as well as Richard Widmark, Laurence Harvey, Frankie Avalon and Marion's son - Patrick Wayne. This 2004 remake sees John Wayne's Davy Crockett character being remodelled by Billy Bob Thornton, Jason Patric fills Jim Bowie's shoes, Patrick Wilson plays William Travis and the ever-dependable Dennis Quaid fills Sam Houston's shoes in this old style, epically-scaled movie. Do these actors do their parts justice? On the whole... yes.
The movie begins fairly slowly as we learn that a small fort is key to the whole of Texas' future - “This fort is the only thing that stands between Santa Anna's army and our settlements. As goes The Alamo, so goes Texas.” The main characters in the story are also fleshed out a little here at the beginning of the movie, albeit in a rather crude, clichéd fashion. Indeed, I felt that it wasn't until Billy Bob Thornton arrived on screen that the movie really came to life. Gradually, the story gets into full swing and we begin to appreciate the strategic importance of the Alamo, as well as each of the main character's personal demons, which have both encouraged and enabled these men to lay down their lives for the sake of their homeland.
I feel special mention should be made of Emilio Echevarría, who plays Mexican dictator Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana - the guy is perfect as the determined, strategically astute, yet ultimately weak-willed fool with a vicious streak as evil as they come. Dennis Quaid lives his part with usual belief and gusto and Patrick Wilson is a suitably self-involved and slightly pompous Lieutenant Colonel Travis. Sadly, I feel that Jason Patric's on screen presence let's the side down a little - I'm not quite sure why, but his dark and foreboding presence seems a little forced and unreal, especially playing opposite the larger than life character of Billy Bob's Davy Crockett who simply steals the show.
Ultimately I felt a little let down - The Alamo pretty much has it all - beautiful scenery; a simple, yet involving story; and a solid cast. Quite why it just doesn't set the screen alight, I'm unsure... but I do feel that it is lacking in movie excitement. And it would seem that the American movie-going population agree with me here. The Alamo cost an estimated $95,000,00 in production costs; it grossed somewhere in the region of just $23,000,000!!
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