In the highly anticipated prequel to the Emmy Award-winning mini-series, LONESOME DOVE, Texas Rangers Augustus McCrae (Steve Zahn)and Woodrow F. Call (Karl Urban) are now young men dealing with the ever increasing tensions of adult life - Gus with his great love, Clara (Linda Cardellini), and Call with Maggie (Elizabeth Banks), the young prostitute who is in love with him. McCrae and Call join a Ranger troop in pursuit of three outlaws: Comanche Chief Buffalo Hump (Wes Studi), Comanche horse thief Kicking Wolf (Jonathan Joss) and Ahumado (Sal Lopez), the deadly Mexican bandit king with a penchant for slow torture. Together they struggle to protect an advancing western frontier against the defiant Comanches who are determined to defend their territory and their way of life. The cast also includes Val Kilmer as Captain Inish Scull, a Yankee aristocrat and Mexican war hero, and Rachel Griffiths as the captain's sexy wife.
It's billed as "the second chapter in the Lonesome Dove
saga," but Comanche Moon
is actually a prequel to that much-loved 1989 miniseries. And while there's no doubt that it has some very big boots to fill, this three-part (on two DVDs, including bonus features) production is rarely less than eminently watchable and entertaining. Continuity is a positive factor: Larry McMurtry, who wrote the novel on which it's based, also co-wrote the screenplay, and Lonesome Dove
director Simon Wincer returns as well. As for the cast, it's certainly not as star-studded as its predecessor, but Steve Zahn (as Gus McCrae), Karl Urban (Woodrow Call), Linda Cardellini (Clara Allen), and the others manage to suggest the characterizations brought to the screen by Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, and Anjelica Huston, respectively, without mimicking them. Of course, there are new faces on hand as well, principally Val Kilmer (looking a mite chubby, perhaps due to all the scenery he chews in his portrayal of Texas Rangers Captain Inish Scull) and Rachel Griffiths (as Scull's horny wife).
As the tale begins in 1858, Call and McCrae, some years away from becoming the cattlemen depicted in Lonesome Dove, are Rangers serving under the educated and eccentric Scull as they work to protect the territory against marauding Comanches, led by the stern, vengeful Buffalo Hump (Wes Studi) and his crazed son, Blue Duck (Adam Beach). When Scull's horse is stolen by one of the Indians, he sets out to retrieve the beast, promoting both Call and McRae to Captain, and the rest of the story revolves primarily around them; in fact, although there's a reasonable amount of action (including the Comanche raid on Austin that opens Part Two), Comanche Moon is much less plot-dependent than character-driven, and it is Call (tough, taciturn, and totally clueless when it comes to the fair sex) and best friend McRae (an open-hearted, self-described jester) who are the most engaging of the bunch as they navigate the deep waters of their work and love lives (McRae with Clara and Call with the prostitute Maggie Tilton, played by Elizabeth Banks). McMurtry and co-writer Diana Ossana's dialogue manages to be at once plain and poetic, colorful and poignant, and regardless of what's actually happening onscreen, the miniseries has a light, often whimsical charm that separates it from most Westerns made for big and small screen alike. Extras include a "making of" featurette and more. --Sam Graham
Stills from Comanche Moon (click for larger image)
Beyond Comanche Moon