The Alamo (2/10)

Copyright © 2004 by Tony Medley

Although Ron Howardís name is on the credit as ďproducer,Ē he was Disneyís original choice as Director. But Howard wanted a different script and an R-rated story, so he was bumped up to a Producer credit and John Lee Hancock was brought in to direct. The result is that Hancockís The Alamo is too long and very slow. How long is it? It only took Mexican General Santa Annaís forces 90 minutes from start to finish to capture the Alamo and kill all the Texians, including Davy (please call me David) Crockett (Billy Bob Thornton), but it takes The Alamo 137 minutes to tell the story.

There are a lot of reasons why itís too long. For one thing, we all know the story. Approximately 2,500 Mexicans under the leadership of Santa Anna massacred approximately 189 people defending the Alamo. It takes The Alamo 137 minutes to tell an 18-word story (I apologize for being redundant, but you didnít have to sit through the entire 137 minutes, as I did).

For another, Hancock hasnít presented any characters we care about or any conflict that involves us. Oh, Travis (Patrick Wilson), the 26-year-old lawyer who commanded the troops, doesnít get along with Jim Bowie (Jason Patric), but itís not presented as a terrific conflict that cries for resolution. Virtually nothing happens inside the Alamo thatís of any interest. You might think that everyone would hate Santa Anna (Emilio Echevarria) since he was the attacking general, but, no, heís not hateful and thereís no conflict between him and Travis or any of the other defenders of the Alamo.

Dennis Quaid plays General Sam Houston, who knew the Alamo was indefensible and wanted it abandoned, as an always-angry caricature. Poor Dennisís implausible characterization is undoubtedly the result of a weak script and feeble directing.

Santa Anna lays siege to the Alamo for 10 days, then attacks. I was surprised everyone inside wasnít dead already from boredom.

I did like Billy Bob Thorntonís interpretation of Davy Crockett. Iíve never been a Thornton fan, but he gives Davy a different twist than weíve seen before.

Hollywood has tried this story at least three times now, 1936, 1960 (John Wayne), and now this. When will they get the message, to wit, the story of the Alamo is not a good basis for a movie?

April 6, 2004

The End