Kevin Costner, Gene Hackman, Dennis Quaid. Back to Dodge City where legendary lawman Wyatt Earp strutted his stuff and his badge in a Lawrence Kasdan epic recreation of the life and times of the famous marshall. This biographical dramatization starts in Earp's youth and tells the whole life story right up to that final shootout in Tombstone, Arizona with longtime friend Doc Holliday in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral!" 1994/color/3 hrs., 10 min/PG-13.
This massive, in-depth study of the dark Western icon comes off with mixed results. Trying to capture the whole life, (warts and all) of the lawman-criminal-brother-fortune hunter, director Lawrence Kasdan gains points for sheer scale, giving us a rich epic painted in dark colors with gritty settings. But the visual poetry and extensive foreshadowing ruin the dramatic drive. Some scenes have as much impact as stalker movies; you're just waiting for someone to get knocked off. As Earp, Kevin Costner is not afraid to look rumpled and play colorlessly (as in The Bodyguard
), but it saps the energy of this 3-hour-plus film. The only relief is Dennis Quaid as a droll Doc Holiday, a much more engaging character. New faces Linden Ashby and Joanna Going (as an Earp brother and a lover, respectively) are solid finds, though the remainder of the female cast is barely given anything to do. Best is the first half, with Costner, as hip as he was in his Silverado
days, going through a series of ups and downs until he accidentally finds his profession. Great set design (Ida Random) utilizes dozens of similar settings that always look distinctive. Recommended to fans of the star and the genre, but the story never justifies its length. --Doug Thomas