While the Western genre continues to fade out, the small group of Westerns that have hit the big screen in the last two decades have included some highly entertaining films, such as "Tombstone", the popular 1993 Western from director George P. Cosmatos.
The film focuses on Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) and his brothers Virgil (Sam Elliott) and Morgan (Bill Paxton), who arrive in Tombstone, Arizona looking to move forward with their lives, choosing to restart as businessmen. While the group initially finds the town to their liking, rumblings start when a set of outlaws - Curly Bill (Powers Boothe), Johnny Ringo (Michael Biehn) and Ike Clanton (Stephen Lang) start a show of force to make their presence in town known.
Realizing that there will be no peace without a response, Wyatt reluctantly goes back into action, with his brothers and the additional assistance of Doc Holiday (Val Kilmer -in a tremendous performance that is one of the actor's best), a womanizer dying of TB but still ready for a stand-off. There's also a set of supporting players, although characters such as Dana Delaney's actress and Wyatt's wife (Dana Wheeler-Nicholson) seem underwritten.
The film leads up to the infamous Gunfight at the OK Corral, and the legendary fight is well-staged by director Cosmatos. The film's behind-the-scenes credits are top-notch, as well, with impressive production design (from future director Catherine Hardwicke), art design (from Chris Gorak, "Fight Club", "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas") and costume design (from Joseph Porro, "Independence Day".)
While the film isn't without a few concerns, the expertly cast picture is largely as memorable as it is thanks to powerful performances, including marvelous efforts from Kilmer, Boothe, Russell, Paxton and others. While a touch long in the middle, "Tombstone" still provides a thrilling, powerful Western tale, with marvelous performances from the cast.
VIDEO: The film is presented by Touchstone in 2.35:1 (1080p/AVC). The presentation isn't without some concerns, but it's otherwise a pleasing boost over the prior DVD release. Sharpness and detail are a tad inconsistent - while some scenes do appear mildly softer than the rest, most of the film came across looking crisp and detailed.
A touch of edge enhancement was spotted in a few scenes, as well as a handful of minor specks and marks on the elements. Overall though, the presentation largely looked clean and smooth. The film's dusty, earthy color palette looked accurately presented, with no smearing or other concerns.
SOUND: The film is presented in DTS-HD 5.1. The film's sound mix may be nearly two decades old, but the presentation still has more than its fair share of power and activity. Surrounds kick into gear during the action sequences to deliver gunfire and other effects, as well as mild ambience. Audio quality is terrific, as dialogue seemed natural and effects sounded punchy and bold. Overall, this was a very satisfying presentation, given the age of the film.
EXTRAS: "The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" featurette, "An Ensemble Cast" featurette and "Making an Authentic Western" featurette. We also get storyboards, TV spots and trailers. The commentary from the prior DVD edition is - unfortunately - not included here.
Final Thoughts: While a touch long in the middle, "Tombstone" still provides a thrilling, powerful Western tale, with marvelous performances from the cast. The Blu-Ray edition boasts improved audio/video quality, although only a few minor supplements. Recommended.
The Film B+