In a future where the polar ice-caps have melted and Earth is almost entirely submerged, a mutated mariner fights starvation and outlaw "smokers," and reluctantly helps a woman and a young girl try to find dry land.
When Wyatt, Ed, and Bat are shooting buffalo near the beginning of the movie, the buffalo are clearly dummies. When the last buffalo tumbles to the ground, its horns bounce up and down, indicating they're made from rubber. See more »
You take on a job, you finish it. Any man who can't be depended on steady, ain't worth the trouble of having around.
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A potentially good film, mishandled by the director
Being one of the most popular figures of the mystical Old West, Wyatt Earp has been dramatised a countless number of times on the big screen and on television. His notoriety as a no-nonsense lawman, his friendship with the drunken and dying Doc Holliday, and his participation in the legendary gunfight at the O.K. Corrall, has made him the stuff of legend. Of all the portraits, this 1994 epic, directed by Lawrence Kasdan is possibly the most accurate and detailed, following Earp's childhood amongst his many siblings, through to his old age heading to strike lucky during the Gold Rush. It's just a pity that for all it's trying and accuracy, the film isn't at all very good.
The film begins on the Earp farm where the young Wyatt is taught the words of wisdom by his father Nicholas (Gene Hackman) - 'blood is thicker than water' - which stays with Wyatt throughout his life. It's clear that his family are important, and he and his brothers are soon grown up and are making a living out on their own. Wyatt is refereeing bare-knuckle boxing matches and is soon making enemies. He romances an old flame who dies tragically, causing the recently-married Wyatt to lose his ways and becomes a drunkard, stealing from good Samaritans who offer him food and shelter. After a visit from his father in prison, he changes his ways and finds himself appointed Deputy Marshal in Wichita, after bravely shooting down a violent drunk when the cowardly sheriff watches. As his reputation as a good lawman grows, he is offered a job in Dodge City along with his brothers Virgil (Michael Madsen) and Morgan (Linden Ashby), where his reputation starts to take a turn for the worse.
After the huge success of Dances With Wolves, this film seems to take a similar approach - epic, sweeping storytelling as opposed to the more action-packed angle usually taken when filming an Earp biography. Yet the majority of the film is handled with such a ham-fisted and amateurish approach by Kasdan that the film is nowhere as good as it should be. Kasdan, whose films have mainly consisted of Kevin Kline vehicles, had directed a very young Costner before in a western in the very enjoyable Silverado. It's a strange performance by Costner, who in the first half seems to be sleepwalking his way through his role, delivering his lines like a nervous primary school kid finding himself cast in the lead role. The second half, when he becomes the more Republican, violent Earp, is very good. He can do brooding very well, and even though Wyatt Earp is portrayed as a complete bastard, with Costner playing him he remains an engaging character.
Even with all the star actors on show - Madsen, Hackman, Bill Pullman, Tom Sizemore, Jim Caviezel, Jeff Fahey, Isabella Rossellini, Catherine O'Hara, and the excellent Dennis Quaid as Doc Holliday, the film does begin to drag. I almost feel bad saying that, as I have a lot of respect for a director when he takes his time to develop a good story and fully- realised characters, and clocking up a long-running time. But around the 2 hour 30 mark, I found myself wanting the film to end. After the infamous O.K. Corral gunfight (which is refreshingly low-key), the film carries on for another 40 minutes as Earp begins his vendetta against the 'cowboy' gang. In a better directors hands, the last segment could have been a way to portray Earp's fall from grace and his descent into blind blood-lust. But instead it just becomes a long, drawn-out manhunt.
Perhaps I'm being harsh, but I feel this was a missed opportunity. Personally, the definitive Wyatt Earp film is John Ford's magnificent My Darling Clementine, and although it may not have the historical accuracy of this, it is a typically mystical, moving, and surprisingly dark masterpiece, featuring a great Henry Fonda performance.
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