The Alamo

Impressively staged, masterfully photographed, filled with engaging performances and historical importance, “The Alamo” has everything in its arsenal to command the screen. Except for one small detail. “The Alamo” is, well, another movie about “The Alamo.” Does the world really need another movie about “The Alamo?” Even more important, who thought a $120 million remake of “The Alamo” was a good idea?

Up until the 1970s, Hollywood put out one historical drama after another with little or no competition from television and cable. That meant if anyone wanted to know about “The Alamo,” they either picked up a book or saw the movie. Today, with numerous cable channels devoted exclusively to history and war, the stakes are higher. Anyone with an interest in “The Alamo” can watch a documentary, listen to interviews with historians, or see historically accurate re- enactments without all of the human melodrama.

With so much coverage, filmmakers are forced to come up with bigger and better ways to tell the story. Director John Lee Hancock (“The Rookie”) and director of photography Dean Semler do just that, making a handsome film filled with breathtaking camera angles and larger-than-life battles. They show us what it’s like to be a cannonball, and give us numerous sweeping aerial shots that help establish the epic personality of the film. What Hancock and writers Leslie Bohem and Stephen Gaghan fail to do is make the personal drama as riveting.

Dennis Quaid, who teamed up with Hancock on “The Rookie,” is okay as General Sam Houston, but it’s Billy Bob Thornton as the legendary Davy Crockett who commands this outpost, a crusty character who understands the enormity of their situation long before Santa Anna (Emilio Echevarria) and his Mexican army show up. Jason Patric has a couple of winning moments as Jim Bowie, a Texas Army colonel who questions the leadership of Lt. Col. William Travis (Patrick Wilson).

Despite the writer’s attempts at humanizing the characters, these personal moments do little to keep the film on track. While it’s necessary to know who these people are and what they stand for, most of them are familiar to anyone who has picked up an eighth grade history book. The emotional pit stops only slow down the inevitable, allowing the film to become long in the tooth.

I doubt we have seen the last of “The Alamo.” Like all historic battles, Hollywood will revisit it time and time again. Hopefully the next team will find something new to say. Don’t count on it.

Cannon Balled

More Of The Same in “Alamo” Remake


Dennis Quaid, Billy Bob Thornton, Jason Patric, Patrick Wilson, Emilio Echevarria. Directed by John Lee Hancock. Rated PG-13. 137 Minutes.


Comments are closed.