The Alamo

A Film Review By Jason L. King

Rating: PG-13 for sustained intense battle sequences
Starring:Billy Bob Thorton, Dennis Quaid, Jason Patric
Directed By:John Lee Hancock

Final Grade:

When I was in high school, I always said “Why do I need to know history? It’s in the past, it’s never going to apply to me.” Well years later I have found a few times when History has applied to my everyday life. One of those few times is when I watch Hollywood destroy history in the movies. Love stories are added (Pearl Harbor) and the true stories of heroes are bastardized for the sake of bigger money, bigger tall tales and more box office bank.

The Alamo is Hollywood’s latest attempt at putting history on the big screen. The film was scheduled to come out last December with hints of an Oscar Push, but was pushed back due to some editing changes: or so they called it. The film was finally pushed back to Easter Weekend in April, hidden amongst a lot of other films that didn’t have high box office hopes. Why the pushback you ask? Was the original cut that was due out in December that bad? The world may never know.

If you paid attention in History class you know the story of the Alamo. A small group of untrained Texians are held up in a run down former church fort against the thousands of Mexican General Santa Anna’s troops. Out numbered a thousand to one, the men stood their ground. In the end, Santa Anna prevailed, killing all of the men including the famous Davey Crockett and continuing onward until finally being stopped by Sam Houston and his Army in a battle where the battle cry was “Remember the Alamo.”

The film takes many luxuries of stretching the truth in spots, and is probably very historically inaccurate. It doesn’t really matter in the end though. After all, did you really expect that Hollywood would make something accurate? After all take a look at Pearl Harbor. That film has so many flaws it would take years to list them all.

Acting is what makes this film enjoyable. Billy Bob Thorton steals the screen when he is present by playing the role of David Crockett, “The Legendary Lion of the West.” Billy Bob does a great job in the role, and he literally brings the character to life. Match Thorton’s performance with great performances by Dennis Quaid (Sam Houston) and Jason Patric and you have a film that gets and A for acting.

However the story suffers enough that the film isn’t a perfect film. The film runs two and a half ours long and almost drags in parts. A little more time in the editing room would help this film a lot. Unfortunately, what makes this film not work is they drug it out too long. Just like Pearl Harbor, the story of the Alamo is not a happy one for the audience, since the heroes die on that fateful day. So to make the film a happy ending in both Pearl Harbor and The Alamo, they drag it out for and extra thirty minutes so the Americans can get their revenge and it ends happily.

What fails the Alamo the most is the death of Davey Crockett. Once Thorton dies the film fizzles out and dies, mostly because the story then focuses on Sam Houston’s character, a character that wasn’t given much of a story until the last few minutes. In the end it’s not because Quaid was terrible in the role, it was because suddenly as an audience we are expected to cheer for a new hero in the last few minutes for the film to work.

But in the end the Alamo is an enjoyable film. An enjoyable film can have his flaws, and there is no doubt that the Alamo has it’s flaws. But some good performances will leave you entertained as you leave the theater. The only problem is that the history books make sure you will “remember the Alamo” but in a year or so there is a pretty good chance that the movie version of the Alamo isn’t really going to be remembered much at all.

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