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Tombstone Review

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Wyatt Earp rides into town with his brothers, intent on retiring his badge and running a local gambling den. It doesn't quite work out that way...

★★★★★

The first of hollywood's imminent slew of big budget Westerns out in the mid-1990s, this would ideally be seen as a palatable hors d'oeuvre before the hearty main course.

Instead, this flat, almost comatose Disney effort should be sent back to the kitchen on the grounds of being undercooked and bereft of flavour. In Cosmatos' retread of the classic Old West tale, good guys wear black, cowboys are villains and infamous Kansas "law dog" Earp (Russell, unremarkable), awe-inspiring reputation preceding him, rolls into the dusty mining town of Tombstone with brothers Virgil (Sam Elliott) and Morgan (Bill Paxton) in tow, determined to make his fortune running a local gambling den and rebuff­ing all requests to don the sheriff's badge and disperse the vicious red-sashed cow­boy gangs running rampant. "I don't do that any more," growls Earp, echoing Unforgiven, except of course he does, driven back into violent crime-busting by the all-round havoc-wreaking of nasties Johnny Ringo (Biehn), Curly Bill (Powers Boothe) and sundry other members of the Clanton and McLaury clans.

Quite apart from there being far too many characters to keep tabs on — Michael Rooker, Billy Zane, Jason Priestley and Charlton Heston all pop in and out — the acting is generally dodgy, the visuals curiously drab, the personal melodramas supremely dreary, and the romantic subplot useless, with token female Dana Delany's vaudeville actress merely rustling her skirts a lot. The only actor who redeems himself, and by default the film, is Kilmer, an absolute hoot as Earp's foppish tuberculosis-ridden best pal Doc Holliday.

Sunday afternoon TV viewing only if you're also reading the paper at the same time.

Doesn't really cut it in the Western genre.