A film touted as being “From the studio that brought you
‘Pearl Harbor’…” tells viewers what to
expect: history taking a backseat to lots of flashy explosions.
That’s what viewers are fed with “The Alamo,” a
movie that failed initially in theaters but is fortunately revived
with a decent DVD release.
Most of the audience already knows the story and the fate of the
Alamo’s defenders. If they do not, it is given away in the
film’s opening. The lead-up to the dramatic conclusion,
however, is filled with rich characterizations. Ripped from the
history books, the gang’s all here: disgraced General Sam
Houston (Dennis Quaid), volunteer leader James Bowie (Jason Patric,
“Speed 2: Cruise Control”) and living legend David
Crockett (Billy Bob Thornton).
After Americans settle and declare Texan independence, General
Santa Ana (Emilio Echevarría, “Die Another Day”)
and his Mexican army must stop the American settlers and return
Texas to Mexico. The San Antonio fort is the final outpost
separating Santa Ana’s troops from the American settlements.
This leads to the famous siege where all of the soldiers meet their
maker. Since this is a jingoistic Disney production, however,
Houston then rallies his troops to avenge their brethren for the
decisive battle against Santa Ana.
Even though much of the action takes place at night, the picture
is crisp. It is solid and the natural landscapes that were
beautifully filmed stand out on DVD. The audio mix is well done;
the sounds of the firing cannons will blow down walls while not
sacrificing the quieter moments and party scenes featuring the
music of the 1840s. A DTS track would have certainly been welcomed
but was ostensibly sacrificed to fit everything on one disc.
Included are three features — totaling about a half hour
— that mostly contain director John Lee Hancock gushing about
the greatness of the film while the cast goes on about how much fun
they had and the greatness of their coworkers. The third
documentary gives some historical insight into the major characters
and is by far the most interesting.
Also included are deleted scenes that enhance the historical
background, which the viewer can watch with or without director
commentary. The feature commentary is dry, only consisting of two
historians covering the film’s historical inaccuracies.
The film lags in places before the namesake battle and its
running time has been padded to send the audience home happy. While
star power and fire power came together for “The
Alamo,” a decent script did not.
Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Picture/Sound: 4 out of 5 stars
Features: 3 out of 5 stars