Everyone’s heard of Wyatt Earp haven’t they? The gunfight at the OK corral, Dodge city, Tombstone and Doc Holliday are all part of the western mythology. Part of a place of heroes and baddies, white hats and black hats, where usually, in the end the good guys save the day, possibly riding off into the sunset.
Well not here, Kevin Costner’s Wyatt Earp is just plain unlikeable. Personally I was hoping he’d take a bullet towards the end of the film. Maybe not die, but just get shot.
The film begins with Wyatt as a young boy, we see him as his brothers come back from war. We see him, older (but still far too young for Costner to have played the role) winning the hand of his childhood sweetheart. This is a likeble Wyatt, he is quite chatty, has a life going for him. But then tragedy, in the form of typhoid strikes down the pretty wife.
Wyatt is transformed into a bum, a horse-thief and a drunk. On the verge of being hanged his father posts bail and tells him to skip out. After this it is a totally different character we see. He mends his drinking ways, but he never really gets over the loss of his wife. He doesnt want to depend on anyone save his own blood, after all, as his father often said “Everyone else are just strangers.” (Course where this leaves Wyatt’s mother in relation to his father I don’t know, because obviously she isn’t blood family).
As a lawman Wyatt doesn’t seem much better than an overly violent thug, albeit with the law on his side. He makes money for every arrest. And he isn’t shy about clubbing someone over the back of the head. All through the film we are shown this distant cold side to Wyatt. Maybe it is the truth about the man, but in al honesty it doesn’t make for a very good hero. And as a result the film isn’t as good as it possibly would have been had Wyatt been shown in even a slightly more positive light.
It is also over long, and the pace drags in places. And, I swear, if I have to hear that “stirring” music again I may just scream.
It isn’t a bad film, but it is more of an interesting one than a good one. Not only that but despite being so long it seems somehow sketchy in places. I appreciate that a lot of ground has to be covered, but Wyatt meets Holliday for a drink and the shortest of chats and somehow they are the bestest of friends. Okay, so its not quite that bad, but here and there things are hinted at more than explained. Usually I dont mind, but in this film it seemed like they over did certain aspects. Wyatt’s memories of his wife dying and him burning down the house for example are reshown mere moments after they happened on screen..