Westerns are not my cup of tea. It took awhile for me to figure it out, and I hate that it is the case, but I just don’t really get Westerns. I say that because I feel like I have to if I’m going to talk about what a lot of people think of as one of the best westerns.
This movie has a lot of successes. The characters are likable across the board, even pointless Paxton who is just there to die. Standing way out for me are Doc Holiday, Curly Bill, and Sherman McMasters. Though in the interest of being honest, I never knew the names of that later two in that last. Which is a shame. With so many characters in this film, I actually mostly only caught on to the actors. But I liked everyone … just not everyone was well developed. Sure, they all did things and said things that made them standout. But there was very little development or movement in the characters. But perhaps that was never the point. And I get behind that.
Doc Holiday is a great character, because he is written that way. This isn’t Nicolas Cage taking a character and bringing something magical and special to it, like in Adaptation or Matchstick Men. Val Kilmer does a great job, because the character is written well. He gets to say all the cool bits and do all the cool things. He is a cool character because he’s made that way. And I say none of that because it is a bad thing. It is a great thing. But it is odd to me. There isn’t really any spark or life to him beyond what we see. But he is still great! What a weird thing to complain about, let me move on.
"Slow down there, rookie."
The pacing of a western is difficult on me as a viewer. Long drawn out bits of not a lot happening, then bursts of interesting things, followed by more long drawn out bits. Tombstone does a great job of keeping things from getting too stale, but right in the center, before Paxton’s death (spoilers by the way, I suppose), there is a lull that is hard to get through. The pace goes nonstop from that point as it is just a western revenge flick, but that is also an interesting failing in the movie. It stops what it is doing and becomes something different. I don’t know how I feel about it.
Tombstone is a hard movie for me to review. It is a good movie that I didn’t particularly like. There are failings, but all those failings are things that are what make the film inherently what it is. To me, Tombstone is lacking that something special, that “it” that sets movies apart from others. But it is a perfectly good film, and one I plan to watch in the future, though only while I’m doing something else so I can pay attention when Doc Holiday is on and ignore the rest.