From the studio that brought you PEARL HARBOR ... Academy Award(R) winner Billy Bob Thornton (SLING BLADE, Best Adapted Screenplay, 1996; BAD SANTA), Dennis Quaid (THE ROOKIE), and Jason Patric (RUSH) team up for the accla... more »imed action epic about one of the most important events in American history! It's the heroic tale of the 200 brave men who made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom defending a small Texas fort for 13 days against an entire army! Commanded by three men -- Lt. Col. William Travis (Patrick Wilson), James Bowie (Patric), and David Crockett (Thornton) -- their against-all-odds courage at the Alamo would forever live on as a rallying cry for liberty and independence!« less
Julie Q. from SAN JOSE, CA Reviewed on 4/10/2011...
THIS IS A GREAT MOVIE. It transports you back into that time and that era, telling the TRUE story of the Alamo, not the legend with honest portrayals of the people involved! The Movie is great, but the commentary is suburb, and carries the movie into a higher realm and standard of authenticity that very few movies even try to obtain. Two historians that specialize in the Alamo or in Texan history, set apart the true, unadulterated facts from cinematic-story-telling and they act as our personal guides as they describe every nuance and action in the film.
This is a MUST have for every person that is serious about understanding our history, and the history of war.
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D. Mikels | Skunk Holler | 04/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For an historical film to succeed it must vividly recreate the setting, conditions, people, conflict, and chain of events for its subject. Without question director John Lee Hancock--along with producers Mark Johnson and Ron Howard--meets all criteria with his sweeping film, THE ALOMO. Walking into the theater with less than enthusiastic expectations, along with some disquieting reservations (Billy Bob Thornton as Davy Crockett? Give me a break!), I was immediately impressed with Hancock's unwavering commitment to detail--from a Texan volunteer's marking each day of the siege onto the Alamo's wall with his knife, to the Mexican army's band playing the haunting "Deguello" each night before Santa Anna unleashed his artillery. Such craftmanship enhances the entire viewing experience, and effectively pulls the audience back in time to the winter of 1836, when a foolhardy group of about 180 men held off more than 2,000 Centrist soldiers for days in a tiny compound overlooking San Antonio. An historical epic can only be as good as the people involved in the event, and THE ALAMO furnishes a feast of colorful characters. General Sam Houston (Dennis Quaid) frets and agonizes over sending reinforcements to the aid of his Texas brethren, but ultimately decides he must not jeopardize his gathering army by confronting Santa Anna at the Alamo. Colonel William Travis (Patrick Wilson) commands the Texas Regulars at the Alamo; he is viewed as a martinet by many of the men, so he must earn their respect, and he does. Famed knife fighter James Bowie (Jason Patric) is at odds with Travis and in conflict with his orders from Houston to confiscate the fort's cannon and move them back to the Brazos; succumbing to illness, he spends the bulk of the siege on his cot, which indeed becomes his deathbed. General Santa Anna (Emilio Echevarria), the eogomaniacal "Napoleon of the West," hopes to attract Houston's forces to San Antonio, and when it becomes apparent no reinforcements are coming he decides to attack and "take no prisoners."Yet, to my utter surprise and astonishment, Billy Bob Thornton dominates this cast as frontiersman and former Congressman Davy Crockett. Thornton gives a down-to-earth, even humble, portrayal of the Tennessee Mountain Man. Crockett was in Texas not as a mercenary but as a land speculator; his arrival at the Alamo two weeks before the siege was more a matter of bad timing than a duty to serve. But Crockett inspires the men, entertains and comforts them, and Thornton brings this character to fascinating life.Some reviewers have lamented the film is "too slow" or "boring." I maintain the movie is not meant to be an X-box game of gratuitous violence but a re-enactment of a siege that took 13 long days; I further maintain that when the actual fighting starts, it is powerful and at times even overwhelming. And yes, there is an element of Hollywood "creativity," but nothing that interferes with the historic authenticity, with the scope and the magnitude, of the Alamo's tragedy, and its subsequent inspiration. THE ALAMO is first-class entertainment--a must-see movie and a must-have DVD when released.
Excellent retelling of the Alamo siege and battle
T O'Brien | Chicago, Il United States | 04/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Alamo is an excellent historical epic depicting the famous battle and its aftermath in 1836. In February/March 1836, 184 Texians defended the Alamo against a much larger Mexican army led by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. For thirteen days, the Alamo defenders held back the Mexican army until on the morning of March 6 they were overwhelmed in the predawn darkness. This movie has received a lot of bad publicity, but don't listen to it. This is not your typical action movie, but instead a character driven drama with excellent battle scenes. The movie accurately portrays what took place during the siege. Although director John Lee Hancock had to cut almost an hour from the original version, this is still a very good movie and well worth a watch.
The Alamo does not have a bad performance from its cast. Billy Bob Thornton absolutely steals the show as David Crockett, the ex-Congressman who finds himself at the Alamo. Thornton brings a human side to Crockett not seen before in any Alamo movies. Also, Crockett's controversial death scene is one of the best scenes in the whole movie so I doubt you'll be disappointed. Dennis Quaid is very good as Sam Houston, although his part was significantly cut in the editing room. Jason Patric and Patrick Wilson are great as the famous knife-fighter, Jim Bowie, and the young Alamo commander, William Barrett Travis. The film also stars Emilio Echevarria as Santa Anna, Jordi Molla as Juan Seguin, Kevin Page as Micajah Autry, and Leon Rippy as Sgt. Ward. I loved this version of the movie, but I do hope a Director's Cut DVD is released. The DVD offers widescreen presentation, deleted scenes with optional commentary, a commentary track with two Alamo historians, and three very good featurettes. With great characters, beautiful cinematography, excellent battle scenes, and a haunting score by Carter Burwell, The Alamo is a great historical epic. Check out The Alamo!"
America's Iliad - re-imagined
Theo Logos | Pittsburgh, PA | 09/26/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you want history, read some books. Let's get that out of the way first. There are many fine histories written on the battle of the Alamo, and disputing ideas about what exactly happened there. It is likely that, like Custer's Last Stand, the exact story of what went down at the Alamo will still be disputed by historians long after we all are dead. This movie is about mythology, not history. While the battle of the Alamo was a historical event, it long ago entered into the realm of American Myth. It is our Iliad. If we cannot win, this is how we want to die - not shirking our duty, but finding something heroic inside ourselves to rise to the occasion. That was portrayed well in this film. The principle players, Bowie, Crockett, and Travis, are not born heroes here. Instead, they are strong men with flaws and quirks of character like all the rest of us. When they are confronted by crisis, we see them rise beyond their flaws, their doubts, even their fears, and in their last moments truly become the heroes of the legend. This was captured powerfully in this film. An early scene shows Sam Houston speaking to Davy Crockett about Texas at a ball in Washington, near the end of Crockett's term in congress. Seeing the two together, an observer whispers to another man that either of those two might once have had a chance to be president, but no more. It is a nicely done scene accomplishing several things at once. First it allows us to see the two as men who had risen to a certain level of success and power, with some reason to expect more to come. It then shows us that before the fighting in Texas, both were men whose star was in decline, and who may have faded out of history had they not cast their lot with the Texicans. Finally, it establishes from the beginning that Davy Crockett was more than a coonskin hat-wearing cliche hero, and prepares us to see him played as a fully dimensional character. This is just one example out of many of how efficient and well made this movie is. The whole cast did a great job with their roles, but I thought that Billy Bob Thornton as Crockett delivered a particularly outstanding performance; one of the best of his career. The role gave him many opportunities to shine, and he rose to the occasion. Chills ran down my spine when his Crockett stood like a chuckling Prometheus to answer the murderous music of the Deguello with his defiant fiddle. And in his death scene, he created a powerful alternative take on how a hero can die. Though it is one of the most controversial scenes of the film, I believe any man could be proud if they were able to meet death with such courage and defiant humor. The film has some flaws - much was edited out, and it leaves the story and character of Dennis Quaid's Sam Houston feeling choppy and incomplete. But taken as a whole, this is a powerful new take on a great American legend, not replacing, but adding to what went before. It has many layers and much nuance, and is a film which bears seeing more than once to take everything in. While not perfect, I can't give four and a half stars, so I give it five.
The Best Alamo film ever made
John A. Aragon | Santa Fe NM USA | 05/14/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For serious students of history of the Alamo, director John Lee Hancock's "The Alamo" can't be beat. Every phase of the battle (a night battle which lasted about 90 minutes) is accurately depicted. The movie shows how outlying sentries, sleep deprived after days of shelling, were bayoneted during the initial charge, how the Mexican battalions first scaled the north wall where Travis was killed, shot between the eyes, how defenders retreated into buildings lining the walls where terrible close-quarters fighting took place, and how the last defenders, including David Crockett, retreated into the chapel at the end.
The film presents the view that some defenders, including Crockett, were captured and executed shortly after the battle. This controversial scenario is taken from the diary of a Mexican officer, Enrique De La Pena.
I would have preferred that there be more middle and far distance scenes for those of us who love the history and are interested in military tactics. But director Hancock chose mostly close-ups of the action. This, I presume, was an artistic choice to maximize dramatic effect and my wishes to the contrary are but minor quibbles. (Boy, would I love to see the outtakes!) All in all, the film is a great achievement, the best Alamo film ever made.
The politics which led to the war are skillfully presented. The script courageously includes the fact that the Mexican people were betrayed by the Anglos to whom they had given lands in return for oaths of allegiance. Another uncomfortable truth portrayed here is that the Texian rebels fought, against Mexico, for their freedom to continue the institution of slavery.
The courage of both the Mexicans and the Gringos is shown. We see the Mexican army marching through the snow in the terrible winter of February, 1836, with rags tied around their feet to redeem the honor of Mexico. This is no John Wayne; "There was 10 of us and a million Mexicans" Alamo.
But what makes any war story great is the human portrayal. This is not lacking here. The writing is delicious. On arriving in San Antonio, Crockett makes one of his famous "Prettiest wife, ugliest dog, meaner than a snapping turtle..." speeches. A listener says; "Gosh, Davey, now that yer here, Santy Anny won't dare attack!" Crockett replies with a sick grin: "I understood the fightin' was over. Ain't it?" Crockett had come, hopeing to become the first President of the Republic of Texas.
The counter-intuitive choice of Billy Bob Thorton to play David Crockett was brilliant. Thorton captures Crockett's humility and compassion for the common man (Crockett opposed Jackson's removal of Native Americans from the east, realizing that these people were more like the people Crockett knew than the politicians who wanted their lands). Thorton shows us how Davey really must have felt. And Thorton manages to even look like the few extant drawings and paintings we have of Crockett. This is good acting because Crockett was alot better looking than Billy Bob!
Jason Patric smoulders and exudes danger as Bowie and Patrick Wilson's youthfulness truly illucidates Travis' courage. Emilio Echevarria's Santa Anna is at once sympathetic in his ideals and detestible in his arrogance and cynicisim. He says: "What are the lives of soldiers but the lives of so many chickens?" Santa Anna ignored the tenants of Napolianic theory of warfare which held that artillery should breach a fortified position before infantry advance. Santa Anna ordered his men to attack the fort with ladders and "Sappers" carrying axes to dismantle fortifications. The Mexican soldiers did their duty.
The Alamo is America's Thermopylae. The story must be told again and again. No matter if the heroes' flaws are exposed. They are greater in the imperfections of their humanity. It will be a long time before this story is better told. "
"Victory or Death"
Joseph Haschka | Glendale, CA USA | 05/02/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The saga of the Alamo is too well-known to belabor extensively here. In short, the Mexican dictator-president General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna marched into Texas, then Mexican territory, in 1836 to quell a rebellion of citizens, most of them American-born. In San Antonio de Bexar, Santa Anna surrounded a couple hundred rebels holed up in the local mission, the Alamo. After a 16-day siege, the General launched an early morning attack on March 6 with 1,800 troops that eventually overwhelmed the fortress. Estimates put Santa Anna's losses at 600 men killed or wounded. All of the Alamo's defenders - officially 189, but perhaps as many as 257 - were slaughtered, some after capture, including those men of American legend, frontiersman David Crockett and adventurer James Bowie. This courageous last stand inspired the Texan Army under Sam Houston to defeat and capture Santa Anna at he Battle of San Jacinto on April 21. In exchange for his release, Santa Anna signed away Mexican rights to the province.The single best reason to watch THE ALAMO is the wonderful performance of Billy Bob Thornton, who puts a human face on the Crockett legend. At one point, Davy admits that he only began wearing his trademark coonskin cap because an actor playing him on stage did so. Yet, Crockett's fame is so great that even one of the Mexican soldiers attendant on Davy's death wears such a cap in emulation of his hero.The next best performance, and indeed a very good one, is that of Emilio Echevarria as the arrogant, over-confident, and ruthless Santa Anna. Historically correct or not, it's everything I would have expected the General to be.The costuming and sets of this epic are magnificent, especially the elegant, brightly colored uniforms of the Mexican officers and their troops. And where did the Texans get such a varied and striking collection of headgear? Those hats were one of the movies best touches.The other actors, Jason Patric as Col. Jim Bowie (commander of the Alamo's volunteer defenders), Patrick Wilson as Lt. Col. William Travis (commander of the Alamo's regular army defenders), and Dennis Quaid as Sam Houston, turn in relatively uninspiring performances. The best role is Wilson's Travis, whose plea for outside reinforcements for the besieged incorporated the famous words "Victory or Death". The character of Bowie remains pretty much a mystery, especially as he spends his last days on his sickbed suffering a lung ailment vaguely termed "typhoid pneumonia". And Quaid's frowning Houston is particularly wooden and brooding. It was if either the actor or Houston was continually preoccupied with indigestion.Inasmuch as I can determine from Web research, the events surrounding the Alamo battle seem, generally speaking, accurately depicted on-screen. Out of necessity, Crockett's death was embellished because the truth surrounding it remains murky - but this version is nicely done (and enhances the Crockett legend). THE ALAMO also takes pains not to demonize the Mexican forces - except for Santa Anna, of course. Indeed, some of the General's chief lieutenants argue for sparing the captured defenders. And the fact that native Mexican (tejano) settlers fought alongside the Texans is given due credit. (For once, political correctness meshes with historical fact.)After the film stutter-starts a bit establishing the characters of Crockett, Travis, Bowie, and Houston, it settles down into being a fine historical epic. And the Davy Crocketts of John Wayne and Fess Parker can stand aside for Billy Bob's."