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TOMBSTONE now on Blu-ray


tombstone boxartStarring: Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton and Powers Booth

Directed by: George P. Cosmatos

MPAA Rating: R for strong western violence

Genre: Action/Western

Blu-ray release date: April 27, 2010

By John Delia

Now on Blu-ray HD Tombstone, which was originally released in theatres in 1993, becomes an event rather than just a DVD.  The film features great cinematography that lends to the action and drama of this very good western.  The remarkable picture showing the old west in all it’s glory and gore is definitely worth a watch.

Kilmer, Elliot, Russell and Paxton head for the OK corral

Kilmer, Elliot, Russell and Paxton head for the OK corral

The film centers on Wyatt Earp (Russell), a retired US Marshall who along with his brothers go to Tombstone, Arizona to settle down and strike it rich in a town that borders a huge silver find.  Arriving in the lawless land they soon find that the Cowboys, a ruthless gang of killers and thieves has obtained a foothold in the area.  Lead by Ike Clanton (Powers Booth), the brutal gang tries to take over Tombstone.  When the Earp brothers won’t take any pushing around, things start to get heated up and lead to a showdown at the OK Corral.

Wyatt and his brother Morgan at OK corral

Wyatt and his brother Morgan at OK corral

I believe that 1993’s Tombstone marked the change of the western making it more realistic, brutal and action filled.  Sure you may argue that the spaghetti westerns like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly introduced cowboy violence to the screen, and you won’t be too far off. But if you go back and look at that movie director Sergio Leone captivated his audience with chilling music, a small amount of dialogue and facial expressions that could kill.  Cosmatos however, lights up the screen with his wide-angle and close-up cinematography in Tombstone, infusing special effects while depicting what led up to the historical brutal gunfight at the OK corral. His gunfights are very realistic and deadly. Now on Blu-ray the film becomes a stronger statement on action westerns.

Now I am not a big fan of films of the Wild West and maybe have two or three in my collection, but beyond a doubt, Tombstone’s acting and direction have proved a spot in the library.  The characters brought to the screen by Cosmatos are real and sometimes scary.  His ability to draw performances from bright, up and coming actors shows his brilliance.  I liked the way he introduced Wyatt, his brothers and Doc Holliday, after showing the audience the violent men with which they were about to deal.

This is one of those films that have a lot of familiar faces and a true springboard for many unknown actors. I don’t think that there has been a film that can boast the success it had in having its actors continue to successful careers. Here is a list that I consider significant to the film industry: Michael Biehn (98 performances, most notably Robert Bly in The Art Of War), Powers Boothe (58 career performances, recently Vice President Noah in TV’s “24”), Dana Delany (over 100 performances, recent stint Katherine Mayfare in TV’s “Desperate Housewives”), Billy Bob Thornton (hundreds of performances, an Oscar winner for Sling Blade), Billy Zane (in over 100 productions, recently Darius in Magic Man), Michael Rooker (one hundred plus performances, notably William Rice in Jumper), Thomas Hayden Church (notable Televison and film actor he was Oscar nominated for Sideways), Stephen Lang (in over a hundred productions, he was recently Colonel Miles Quaritch in Avatar) and Jason Priestley (nearly a hundred acting gigs, to me he’s most noted for Brandon on “Beverly Hills 90210”). It also features a fine performance by Charlton Heston (at least 200 performances in film and TV, he was Moses in The Ten Commandments and won an Oscar for the title role of Ben-Hur).

The Blu-ray disc has an above average Making Of bonus feature that is worth a look, but beyond that it’s the Blu-ray format for which you purchase or rent this film.  Tombsone is rated R for strong western violence.

FINAL ANALYSIS: ‘Yippee-Kai-Yey!’ western lovers.  (4.5 of 5 stars)

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