Judge David Johnson skins his smokewagon on a regular basis.
Our review of Tombstone: Vista Series, published January 30th, 2002, is also available.
"Skin that smokewagon and see what happens!"
Tombstone rules. Does the anticipated HD release live up to its Alpha-male glory? Nope.
Facts of the Case
The Earp brothers are angling for some cash. Wyatt (Kurt Russell, Deathproof), Virgil (Sam Elliott) and Morgan (Bill Paxton, Aliens) roll into the silver-mining boomtown of Tombstone to make their fortune. The last thing that legendary lawman Wyatt Earp wants to do is get back into the crime-fighting business, but when an outlaw gang starts messing with his women, it's time to bring down the thunder.
Upon rewatching this for the…I don't know, 500th time, it occurred to me that Tombstone is certainly the all-time "that guy" movie. Virtually everyone, down to the throwaway extras, is a familiar face. Thomas Haden Church. Stephen Lang. John Corbett. Powers Boothe. Michael Rooker. Michael Biehn. Jason Priestley. Billy Zane. Terry O'Quinn. Charlton frggin' Heston. This observation doesn't really have much to do with anything except for the fact that nearly all of these actors likely recognized how bad-ass the final product was going to be and signed on to be a part of it, no matter if it was for a major role or just getting shot in the stomach by Kurt Russell.
And the mustaches. Oh, the mustaches!
Look, you don't need me to tell you how awesome Tombstone is; the legendary glory of Val Kilmer's performance, how Kurt Russell's macho bravado can strip wallpaper, the sheer awesomeness of the train station scene. When it comes to modern Westerns, none have yet to eclipse Tombstone's brilliance.
Here's what I can tell you that may not know, the Blu-ray is a waste of everyone's time and is indicative of why people have—and should—distrust ballyhooed home video format "revolutions."
There are plenty of killer Blu-rays out there of course, and any new film that gets purchased for the Johnson household is in a blue case. But this release of the Tombstone is representative of everything that's wrong with a double-dip format upgrade.
First, the technical aspects, which are good, but not mindblowing. The 2.35:1 transfer is an upgrade over the DVD version and a cursory eyeballing of the film reveals it. The windswept wasteland of the Wild West looks great and I defy you to find a better-rendered mustache. Still, the visual bump is a matter of degrees; the soft picture quality falling short of new Blu releases and even a majority of the higher-performing catalog discs. Good sound, though, with a well-mixed 5.1 DTS Master Audio pushing the memorable score and the hectic gunfights.
It's when we get to the extras that my ire gets up. All that's here is the antiquated making-of documentary (featuring some out-of-whack aspect ratio) and storyboards. Meanwhile, on my DVD shelf, sits the special edition of the Tombstone DVD, housed in gorgeous packaging and sporting a large selection of great extras. Thisis what irks me, a studio pumping out a bare bones Blu-ray release, knowing full well that a perfectly serviceable slate of extras exists already. That either means that yet another special edition is on the way (a dick move) or the studio merely half-assed the release.
There aren't many flicks I love as much as Tombstone, but this Blu-ray is a cur.
Guilty of a grave injustice.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Hollywood Pictures
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