The Alamo (2004)

Genres - Historical Film, Western  |   Sub-Genres - Epic Western  |   Release Date - Apr 9, 2004 (USA)  |   Run Time - 136 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Karl Williams

A flawed but intermittently absorbing historical epic, The Alamo provides enticing glimpses of the movie it might have been, but ultimately fails to deliver on its dramatic promise. Billy Bob Thornton is given the script's best material to work with as Davy Crockett; in the hands of the actor and his writer/director, John Lee Hancock, the frontiersman is a refreshingly authentic contrast to the mythical figure of American folklore. The filmmakers invent crafty means of including new morsels of information about Crockett that defy his legend while still wisely casting him as a heroic figure. If only Crockett was its narrative focus, the film would be an enjoyable, illuminating romp through revisionist history. Unfortunately, Hancock can't resist the temptation to sprawl, packing multiple characters, incidents, and points-of-view into his bloated tale, a flaw so common in movies that attempt to hew closely to real-life events. He lavishes as much attention on Jim Bowie (Jason Patric), Sam Houston (Dennis Quaid), William Travis (Patrick Wilson), and even moustache-twirling nemesis Santa Anna (Emilio Echevarria) as he does on the more intriguing Crockett, and the effect is one of diluted emotion and flagging interest. The Alamo (2004) is certainly not the disaster it might have been, given its troubled production history and the patriotic zeal still inflamed by the battle, but neither is it the classic tragedy, Shakespearean in its proportions, that the material suggests it could be.