The Tombstone Movie – What Happened to Westerns?
I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that Hollywood doesn’t do movies like they used to. Whenever I’m in the mood for a good Western, I almost always have to travel back in time at least decade or two to find something that feels authentic and masculine. The Tombstone movie fills that need. Written by Kevin Jarre and directed by George Cosmatos, the 1993 film is a classic of the Western genre.
“They don’t make’em like they used to.”
The film documents the real life events surrounding the famous gunfight at the O.K. corral. During the late 1800’s, the western parts of america had very few people, hence the term Wild West. The Tombstone movie revolves around the blood feud between marshalls/lawmen and various outlaws in Tombstone, Arizona. It’s a traditional good vs. evil tale, we know who deserves justice and who deserves to die. Full of drunken duels, tense standoffs, witty one-liners, and outstanding performances, Tombstone is a classic storytelling of rough men, willing to die at a moments notice. Furthermore, it’s based on real life events – these characters and events actually happened, though maybe not exactly like in the movie.
Why watch Tombstone?
If you’re looking for a masculine film, Tombstone qualifies for a few reasons. Firstly, the performances given by the mostly male cast are some of the best out there. You’ll probably recognize some familiar faces throughout this movie. Val Kilmer, Kurt Russell, Michael Biehn, Sam Elliot, Bill Paxton, Jason Priestley, Michael Rooker, Billy Zane, and Charlton Heston all make an appearance at some point during the film. Seeing such a wide collection of successful male actors and alpha males is a privilege and an opportunity to witness more than a few role models for being a badass cowboy.
The standout performance here is Val Kilmer. Kilmer plays Doc Holiday, an educated, master gunslinger suffering from tuberculosis. He will die soon, which makes the Doc the most dangerous man in every room he enters. Fortunately, he is also a force for good and part of the squad of heroes attempting to enforce the law. Many believe Val Kilmer was snubbed for a supporting actor Oscar nomination in this role, as he has some of the most unique character traits and memorable lines from any movie. See why for yourself.
Secondly, while the film is full of guns and violence, it uses these tools intelligently. It seems like in every shoot-em-up flick nowadays, the perfect hero shoots laser guided, heat seeking bullets that never miss their target. Tombstone attempts to display a more realistic simulation of what gunfighting may have looked like out west. This has the effect of drawing you in and making the story and characters believable and real, rather than a bunch of corny Hollywood A-listers fooling around for a quick pay check. When you watch the film, you will find yourself drawn in to the magic.
You’ll feel like you are really there, in the middle of the action seeing real men testing each others limits.
Related to the intelligent presentation of the film, it has some great writing. The film showcases every type of man – good, bad, strong, weak, brash, calm. The characters have nuance and show some complexity, even the bad guys. This makes Tombstone a great film for any guy who’s tired of fake, one-dimensional movie characters. Even if there are obvious ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ in this movie, there are shades of grey too.
If you watch the film, you learn that there is good and bad in every man. Sometimes it is necessary to be a little ‘evil’ to defeat an enemy or do the right thing.
Tombstone isn’t as well known as some other western flicks. But even without Clint Eastwood‘s silent stares, there’s plenty of masculinity and lessons to be learned about sticking up for yourself. Check it out if you’re sick of the same old reprocessed crap of today, or if you just want to see some brave, principled men kicking some ass.
Related: Like action? Then you will definitely want to see Die Hard Movie Review: The Ultimate Action Movie!