Projections - Movie Reviews
The Alamo
The Alamo
Starring Dennis Quaid, Billy Bob Thornton, Jason Patric,
Patrick Wilson, Emilio Echevarria, Jordi Molla

The 1836 fight over the Texas Alamo is dramatized in this new Disney film helmed by second time director John Lee Hancock (The Rookie).

The small dilapidated church and mission is defended by about 200 regular Army Americans against thousands of Mexican soldiers led by pompous General Santa Anna (Emilio Echevarria).

The Americans are led by Lt. Col. William Travis (Patrick Wilson) and Col. James Bowie (Jason Patric) the legendary fighting man, who argue back and forth as to which one of them will actually lead the men. The poor health of Bowie from an advance state of TB, however leaves Travis with that dubious honor.

Horribly outnumbered and knowing their fate, Travis sends word to Sam Huston (Dennis Quaid) for reinforcements. Huston puts out the call to several nearby states for more manpower, but only a hundred or so men gather to join the cause.

Since Huston is interested in the ultimate prize of statehood for Texas, and also realizes that the small number of additional volunteers that he’s accumulated will be of little help against Santa Anna’s thousands, so he waits until the timing is right. Unfortunately, the fate of the Alamo is sealed.

Billy Bob Thornton plays Davy Crockett, he’s shown to be a lot deeper than the part-showman, part-superhero that articles and plays portrayed him. Even the enemy had heard of the great Crockett and the soldiers whispered among themselves that he could fight bears and leap rivers with one bound. But, Thornton breaks down those bigger-than-life barriers and shows the real man behind the myth.

Much of the film is devoted to the days of waiting the Americans were forced to endure during long periods of stand off. The Mexicans would spend time constructing ladders to vault the stone walls, move their many cannons to more advantageous positions and periodically play music, while the men inside the mission either told stories, wrote letters or attempted to anticipate when the next onslaught would come. The plan was to prevent the Americans from sleeping and then attacking at night when the besieged Americans were exhausted.

The battle scenes are up-close and hand to hand, which always makes them more brutal and realistic. The special effects particularly the following at close range a cannon ball from its perch to final destination are very effective.

With all its trouble especially a change in director (Ron Howard was originally signed) and budgetary issues aside, The Alamo is a well told story, and to me, made more real by an intimate view of the men. That is particularly so for Crockett who with his stories of Indian battles, his self effacing way, and his musical ability, make him real, and when we care about a character on the screen, we easily become more involved with their plight.

The Alamo

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