By Ben Kessler
I remember the Alamo. I visited it about seven years ago and found it fascinating. This movie is a great embodiment of the things I found so interesting.
In “The Alamo,” Texas militiamen face overwhelming odds when trying to defend a Spanish mission from the advancing Mexican army.
The mission, although not built to repel an attack, has a great deal of cannons and a group of men dedicated to the birth of Texas who are ready to defend the Alamo with their lives.
Because I was raised in England, I am not very familiar with American history but the story of the Alamo has a degree of fame even there. I don’t consider this movie to be the definitive rendition of the events that transpired in 1836, but it was still an education.
Billy Bob Thornton brings the character of Davy Crockett alive with his country charm. I don’t mean the legendary Davy Crockett, but a human, flawed Davy Crockett. Audiences care more about characters if they can identify with them, and Thornton plays Crockett as a scared but responsible and brave warrior.
Jason Patric proves he has come a long way since his days as an angsty vampire teenager in “Lost Boys.” As famous knife-fighter James Bowie, Patric portrays a rough-and-tumble veteran who has found a way of doing things that works, and is ready to stick with it, no matter what anyone else says.
Dennis Quaid also puts forth quite a showing as Sam Houston. This character shows a side of Quaid’s acting ability I hadn’t seen before.
My favorite part of this movie is that it isn’t portrayed as a black-and-white situation. I know there is a bit of controversy right now about how each side is represented, but I feel many people with stakes in the outcome of the battle showed heroism, and that is what the movie is about. No matter who was right or wrong, the message is that these men fought and died for something they believed in. They had no idea whether their sacrifice would mean anything, but they stood their ground and fought to their last breath, and that attitude is something the audience can get behind.
Not to say the movie is perfect. As I said about “The Passion of the Christ,” historical filmmakers tend to assume that people know the parts of the story they are leaving out, and that isn’t necessarily true. I would like to have seen a little more back story about Sam Houston’s vision of Texas.
Also, for the most part, I like circular plot lines. By this I mean movies that start at the end, then tell the story and bring it back to that same end scene. Although most people know the outcome of the battle at the Alamo, the beginning scene wasn’t necessary to the story. It could have been cut from the movie altogether.
With only petty qualms with this movie, I was very pleased with what I saw. The acting was top-rate, and the costumes were also vivid and realistic. The movie evoked a broad range of emotions, and involved the audience on a personal level. It has earned the coveted five on the Film-o-meter.
1 — Actively avoid this movie.
2 — Watch it if a friend rents it.
3 — Rent it.
4 — Worth a matinee.
? 5 — Go see this movie.
Ben Kessler is a former moving image arts student and a long-time film buff. He can be reached at:
Show: The Alamo
Stars: Dennis Quaid,
Billy Bob Thornton, Jason Patric, Patrick Wilson
Summary: In 1836 a small group of determined men defend a Spanish mission from an advancing Mexican army for the future of Texas.
Showtimes: Saturday and Sunday at 1:30, daily at 4:45, 7:30 and 10:05 p.m.
Rating: Rated PG-13 for sustained intense battle sequences.