Sunday, April 11, 2004

The Alamo (IMDB) (Netflix)
They gave away the ending right at the beginning of the film--what's with these people? OK, so we (and particularly Texans) know all about what happened at the Alamo from the history books and the dozen or so Alamo films that have been made. This one has a huge set and Billy Bob Thornton leading a cast of Dennis Quaid, Jason Patric and the hordes of Santa Anna's army, and claims to be the most historically accurate.

I'm not sure that devotion to detail was much help. Reality is rarely as good as the legend, and the actors seem to be so freighted with the desire to respect the history and their real-life characters that they become archetypes, not flesh-and-blood people. There's actually not that much action (Santa Anna was trying to suck in more American reinforcements to get the most out of his intended massacre), and few of the pre-battle scenes, where everybody is coming to grips with their impending demise, don't hit nearly as hard as you would think. Visually, there's exactly one shot that's actually stirring, and it lasts about three seconds. Thornton has gotten some kudos for his performance as Davy Crockett, but to me it's just Billy Bob being affable; I liked Patric's Jim Bowie a mite more. It's not a disaster, but certainly a missed opportunity.