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Tombstone (1993) – DVD Review

Tombstone DVD cover


Written by: Kevin Jarre
Directed by: George P. Cosmatos
Starring: Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Powers Boothe, Bill Paxton


  • Commentary by director Cosmatos
  • 134-minute director’s cut of the film
  • Production Featurettes: “An Ensemble Cast,” “Making An Authentic Western,” and “The Gunfight At The O.K. Corral”
  • Interactive Tombstone Storyline
  • The Tombstone Epitaph, the actual newspaper account
  • Director’s Original Storyboards: O.K. Corral Sequence
  • Map of Tombstone
  • DVD-ROM: Faro at the Oriental game

Released by: Walt Disney Video
Region: 1
Rating: R
Anamorphic: Ayuh

My Advice: Own It.

[ad#longpost]Wyatt Earp (Russell) is retired. No, really. He and his brothers (Elliott and Paxton) have decided to take their wives and resettle in Tombstone, a burgeoning metropolis of the Old West. Once there, the plan is to figure out a way to make their fortune, and live the good life. That’s all they had planned. Unfortunately, the Cowboys, a gang of roughnecks, run the town, led by Curly Bill (Boothe). With all the potential for mayhem–not to mention the timely arrival of Wyatt’s amigo, the lethal Doc Holliday (Kilmer)–sooner or later somebody’s going to get pissed off and start firing off guns.

One of the best westerns of recent years (Silverado being another fine example that springs to mind), Tombstone was one of those animals that doesn’t come along as much as they should: the just flatout good movie. It’s filled to the brim with a cast to kill for (everybody from Thomas Haden Church to Billy Bob Thornton have small roles), all acting like absolute badasses, and spouting some absolutely excellent dialogue. Scenes like the three Earps and Holliday making their way to the O.K. Corral, striding down the street like four undertakers with a grudge a mile wide, are simply tattooed on the mind. It’s just a damn good time.

Now the film’s finally got a decent representation on DVD. And I’d emphasize the “decent” description there. The director’s commentary by Cosmatos is hit and miss. When he’s discussing scenes or actors, he’s bestowing some good information. Unfortunately, he spends a great deal of time praising the authenticity of the costumes, the weapons, the settings and whatnot. He does this to such an extent that by halfway through the film, I was sick to damn death of hearing about it. Luckily, once the commentary went away, we could move on to the featurettes.

Val Kilmer, Sam Elliot, Bill Paxton, Kurt Russell in Tombstone

Within the featurettes, they actually go into a little depth as to the extent of this aforementioned authenticity. The firearms, the set creation, the costumes–it’s nice to actually hear about in a balanced fashion. And what’s really nice–and really impressive–about the featurettes: you have actors talking intelligently about their characters, the characters’ history, and whatnot. They’re not merely regurgitating boring synopses of their characters’ arcs, or meaningless tripe about the project: they’re actually being informative. Wow, what a concept.

The last feature of note is the storyboard sequence for the O.K. Corral sequence, which doesn’t have any comparison, but just rolls through to a musical accompaniment. The features which are middling to downright annoying make up what’s left of the set. The middling parts start off with the actual newspaper account in the Tombstone Epitaph regarding the O.K. incident. It’s intriguing in that you get to scroll around a recreation of the paper as it appeared–but I personally find it a pain to read on the television screen. I’m not sure why the account was not present on the DVD-ROM features in a straight text format.

More middling is another bit that was on the DVD-ROM: the ability to play the game of Faro. This is interesting for all of two minutes. What would have been more interesting would have been some quick three minute featurette about the card games of the Old West–or tips on how to win at Faro. What you get instead is a game that gets boring as hell after minute three. What makes the game annoying are the voices that notify you that you’ve won or lost. They’re extremely annoying “stock Old West voices” that are amusing for about thirty seconds, then you just turn the speakers off. Those same terrible voices read the “timeline” off the screen from the DVD as you go through it. But between that and the fact the timeline is extremely incomplete, it’s practically useless.

To wrap up, the good news is that the film is now out in a director’s cut form with decent featurettes. The rest of the set you could jettison without losing much value, but it’s still worth picking up for those who have been patient for just a little something extra to go along with their movie.