WYATT EARP is an epic of a movie made on a grand scale. It covers
the life of Wyatt Earp from when he was about 12 years old until 17
years after the gun fight which wasn't at, but was near, the OK Corral.
Kevin Costner plays Wyatt Earp from age 20 on. Dennis Quad plays
Doc Holiday, Gene Hackman is Wyatt's father, Michael Madsen is one of
Wyatt's many brothers, and there are zillions of other stars you will
recognize playing other brothers, wives, Mastersons, marshals, bad
guys, etc. The credits go on for longer than the cartoons they used to
play when I was a kid. I know that seriously dates me.
This is a classic Lawrence Kasdan movie. He produced, directed,
and wrote it. Kasdan likes important films that make statements. His
best two were Grand Canyon and The Big Chill. Here he makes a movie
full of sweeping grandeur and absolutely wonderful dramatic music
(James Newton Howard) that never stops. The cinematography (Owen
Roizman) is a delight. The lighting for every scene is carefully
chosen from the night scenes in the jail to the light pouring into the
dark saloon in the afternoon to the sunsets. Much money and time was
spent on the set design (Ida Random) so that the look was exactly as
Kasdan envisioned it. DeMille would have the loved it.
Costner is always interesting to watch, and he is in this movie.
He plays Wyatt as an assertive killer but a fundamentally sweet fellow.
With the exception of Dennis Quaid, the other performances are fine,
but nothing special. Quaid was badly miscast. For a better Doc
Holiday see the quirkier but fascinating performance by Val Kilmer in
Tombstone. Oh yes, Mark Harmon tries his hand at a Western. He should
stick to playing serial killers on TV. He can do that.
WYATT EARP is rated PG-13 for a fair amount of blood. Teenagers
will be fine at it, but keep the little ones away. It runs an
incredible 3:10, but feels more like four hours. It got ** from me and
a mild thumbs down. If they would have cut out an hour, I could have
boosted my rating to ** 1/2 and recommended it, but as it is, I give it
a thumbs down. In fact, if they lightened up a bit and did not treat
every scene like it was the parting of the Red Sea, I probably would
have even given another 1/2 star. If you go see it, you will leave
very tired, but will have some beautiful scenes to remember.
Copyright © 1995 Steve Rhodes