An Expensive History Lesson

Billy Bob Thornton and Patrick Wilson in The Alamo (2004)

"The Alamo" is a historical drama based on the famous 1836 standoff where just short of 200 men commanded by Colonel William Travis (Patrick Wilson), and aided by Davy Crockett (Billy Bob Thornton) and Jim Bowie (Jason Patric), hold off over 2,000 men led by Mexican dictator, General Santa Anna (Emilio Echevarrķa) as they attempt to take the Alamo. It also covers the following action as General Sam Houston (Dennis Quaid) and his men then defeat Santa Anna and his men leading to the independence of Texas.

This 2004 retelling of "The Alamo" is not an epic western but a big budget history lesson and like so many of the history lessons I endured at school, it is ponderous, over long and not as interesting as it should be. Now in fairness I am a western fan, I grew up on the antics of men with guns taking on the bad guys and as such if I had my way they would have spent the $100,000,000 plus budget on making "The Alamo" an epic western full of entertainment rather than forcing historical facts on an audience. As such, and I doubt this is going to be a surprise, "The Alamo" didn't impress me much.

Jason Patric in The Alamo (2004)

Now in fairness visually "The Alamo" is in places impressive with director John Lee Hancock certainly making the most of the sets and locations with fluid camera work which gives it a sense of scale. But at the same time the often impressive nature of various shots not only come across as far too staged but contributes to the movie's ponderous nature as they go on far too long.

Ponderous is sadly the word of the day to describe much of the acting in "The Alamo" with entertaining actors shackled by dreary dialogue which thinks it is interesting and authentic by is only dull. The dullness of the dialogue often leads to actors such as Dennis Quaid and Jason Patric relying on mid sentence pauses to try and make it sound interesting which of course leads to many scenes dragging on due to these mid sentence pauses.

What this all boils down to is that "The Alamo" was not for me and maybe I was expecting more entertainment of a western style rather than a ponderous history lesson. But as this is reportedly one of the biggest box office bombs in the history of cinema maybe I am not alone.

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