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The Alamo

The Alamo on DVD

Grab your history books and a bottle of whiteout.

Disney’s big-budget flop about the storming of The Alamo creates its own version of the story and turns it into your typical politically correct evil white man tale.

Lt. Col. William Travis (Patrick Wilson) is assigned to The Alamo, which the Texans and Mexicans have been fighting over for some time. The evil Mexican dictator, Santa Anna, wants it back. He’s marching thousands of troops towards it, intent on not only taking back The Alamo, but also killing off Gen. Sam Houston (Dennis Quaid) at the same time. Just for the record, it’s never explained why Santa Anna has it in for Houston so bad, so you’ll just have to go with it.

But Houston isn’t there yet. So the Mexican army surrounds The Alamo and launches a series of “we’re here and we can take you out…but we don’t want to just now” kind of attacks. Travis, James Bowie (Jason Patric), and David Crockett (Billy Bob Thornton) combine their efforts to hold off the attacks until Houston’s army can reinforce them. We pretty much know how it goes from there.

This movie cost $100 million to make, primarily because they decided to build The Alamo and the entire town of San Antonio from scratch. Not a bad idea, except that very little of the film actually takes place in San Antonio, so if they’d just used sound stages, they could have undoubtedly saved themselves countless millions of dollars. And because so much was spent on production design, they didn’t bother to make an interesting movie. This “action-packed epic” spends most of its 137-minute runtime letting the characters jabber on and whine about pretty much everything. With the exception of the climax, the action sequences are extremely short and don’t feature much more than the exchange of a few cannon shots.

Davey Crockett is supposed to have been a tough, gruff, man’s man who don’t apologize for nuthin’. Why, then, does he have a ten-minute speech in which he talks about how horrible white men are, and how they slaughtered the helpless Indians for absolutely no reason? Well, it’s because even when you’re Disney telling a 170-year-old tale, you have to somehow get your left-wing agenda in there somewhere.

The filmmakers would have you believe that this is a more personal look at the characters of The Alamo. I believe they were just wasting time because the actual storming of The Alamo and the subsequent events didn’t take very long.

Then there’s the issue of the script. While the $100 million may have gotten them a very authentic looking movie, you’ll notice in the first few minutes that these people seem to be speaking exactly like we do in the 21st century. Combine that with a large number of terrible and clichéd lines, and you have a complete lack of authenticity. If you don’t believe this is all happening in the 1830s, it’s hard to take seriously.

And so, we have an overly expensive movie that does nothing but take up over two hours of your time. It’s boring, preachy, and politically correct. That, unfortunately, is three strikes. If you absolutely must watch this movie, don’t say we didn’t warn you. If you want to see a better version of The Alamo, watch the John Wayne original.

A well-deserved flop, The Alamo was one of the biggest box office disappointments of the year (and fellow Disney flicks Around the World in 80 Days and King Arthur are at the top of the list, as well).

The DVD is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and it looks pretty good. There’s a lot of bland color, but detail is always perfectly visible. There is no grain or dust (except for the dust in the movie), fleshtones are good, but the brown color of the buildings and background make it look pretty boring.

The audio would have been a lot better if there had been more opportunities to use it. Most of the movie is just people talking, so the center channel takes good care of that. When there’s something happening, the five channels split the duties very nicely. Cannonballs whiz past your head and bullets fly all over the place, while the score subtly comes from all sides.

“Return of the Legend” is a 20-odd minute making-of featurette that quickly takes you through the basics: casting, filming, building the set, etc. “Walking in the Footsteps of Heroes” spends a few minutes familiarizing us with the real life characters in the movie. There’s also the short “Deep in the Heart of Texans” and some deleted scenes, and of course the usual trailers.

The Alamo, from Touchstone Home Entertainment
137 min. anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1, 16x9 TV compatible), Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
Starring Dennis Quaid, Billy Bob Thornton, Jason Patric, Patrick Wilson
Produced by Mark Johnson, Ron Howard
Written by Leslie Boehm and Stephan Gaghan and John Lee Hancock, directed by John Lee Hancock


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