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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
2004's The Alamo is one of the most undeserved flops of recent years (and possibly inflation-adjusted as big a disaster as Heaven's Gate). Bad timing may account or some of it, as America's image went from besieged victims to bloody aggressors (certainly it was barely even released outside the US), but the film's sombre, mournful tone is probably more to blame - beginning with the dead bodies of the defeated defenders, there's a sadness and inevitability to the film that's the complete antithesis of the feelgood destruction-and-revenge of Pearl Harbor. Even Carter Burwell's haunting low-key score is more a lament than the broad action scoring you might expect. The script is well crafted, the characterisation surprisingly strong and the comparative absence of cgi pays dividends with a level of verisimilitude that's been lacking from most recent epics.
It also benefits from an extraordinary performance from Billy Bob Thornton as Davey ("He prefers David") Crockett, a crowd-pleaser faced with having to live up to his own legend, and blessed with the film's best dialogue and it's best scene as he silences the Mexican guns with his fiddle. Thornton owns the film in a way I haven't seen from any actor for a long, long time. He's definitely the heart and soul of the movie.
Thankfully, it's not quite a one-man show. Patrick Wilson does surprisingly well as Travis, Jason Patric's tediously one-note surliness is for once put to effective use as Bowie and the supporting cast is filled with great faces, all caught wonderfully by Dean Semler's superb cinematography. Only Dennis Quaid fares less well as Houston, failing to make much of his admittedly limited opportunities.
True it falters somewhat after the fall of the Alamo, but it's still an impressive, intelligent and sometimes quietly moving epic that didn't deserve its fate at the box-office.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2004's The Alamo is one of the most undeserved flops of recent years (and possibly inflation-adjusted as big a disaster as Heaven's Gate). Bad timing may account or some of it, as America's image went from besieged victims to bloody aggressors (certainly it was barely even released outside the US), but the film's sombre, mournful tone is probably more to blame - beginning with the dead bodies of the defeated defenders, there's a sadness and inevitability to the film that's the complete antithesis of the feelgood destruction-and-revenge of Pearl Harbor. Even Carter Burwell's haunting low-key score is more a lament than the broad action scoring you might expect. The script is well crafted, the characterisation surprisingly strong and the comparative absence of cgi pays dividends with a level of verisimilitude that's been lacking from most recent epics.

It also benefits from an extraordinary performance from Billy Bob Thornton as Davey ("He prefers David") Crockett, a crowd-pleaser faced with having to live up to his own legend, and blessed with the film's best dialogue and it's best scene as he silences the Mexican guns with his fiddle. Thornton owns the film in a way I haven't seen from any actor for a long, long time. He's definitely the heart and soul of the movie.

Thankfully, it's not quite a one-man show. Patrick Wilson does surprisingly well as Travis, Jason Patric's tediously one-note surliness is for once put to effective use as Bowie and the supporting cast is filled with great faces, all caught wonderfully by Dean Semler's superb cinematography. Only Dennis Quaid fares less well as Houston, failing to make much of his admittedly limited opportunities.

True it falters somewhat after the fall of the Alamo, but it's still an impressive, intelligent and sometimes quietly moving epic that didn't deserve its fate at the box-office.

Extras include an audio commentary, 5 deleted scenes and two featurettes.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
The saga of the Alamo is too well-known to belabor extensively here. In short, the Mexican dictator-president General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna marched into Texas, then Mexican territory, in 1836 to quell a rebellion of citizens, most of them American-born. In San Antonio de Bexar, Santa Anna surrounded a couple hundred rebels holed up in the local mission, the Alamo. After a 16-day siege, the General launched an early morning attack on March 6 with 1,800 troops that eventually overwhelmed the fortress. Estimates put Santa Anna's losses at 600 men killed or wounded. All of the Alamo's defenders - officially 189, but perhaps as many as 257 - were slaughtered, some after capture, including those men of American legend, frontiersman David Crockett and adventurer James Bowie. This courageous last stand inspired the Texan Army under Sam Houston to defeat and capture Santa Anna at he Battle of San Jacinto on April 21. In exchange for his release, Santa Anna signed away Mexican rights to the province.
The single best reason to watch THE ALAMO is the wonderful performance of Billy Bob Thornton, who puts a human face on the Crockett legend. At one point, Davy admits that he only began wearing his trademark coonskin cap because an actor playing him on stage did so. Yet, Crockett's fame is so great that even one of the Mexican soldiers attendant on Davy's death wears such a cap in emulation of his hero.
The next best performance, and indeed a very good one, is that of Emilio Echevarria as the arrogant, over-confident, and ruthless Santa Anna. Historically correct or not, it's everything I would have expected the General to be.
The costuming and sets of this epic are magnificent, especially the elegant, brightly colored uniforms of the Mexican officers and their troops. And where did the Texans get such a varied and striking collection of headgear? Those hats were one of the movies best touches.
The other actors, Jason Patric as Col. Jim Bowie (commander of the Alamo's volunteer defenders), Patrick Wilson as Lt. Col. William Travis (commander of the Alamo's regular army defenders), and Dennis Quaid as Sam Houston, turn in relatively uninspiring performances. The best role is Wilson's Travis, whose plea for outside reinforcements for the besieged incorporated the famous words "Victory or Death". The character of Bowie remains pretty much a mystery, especially as he spends his last days on his sickbed suffering a lung ailment vaguely termed "typhoid pneumonia". And Quaid's frowning Houston is particularly wooden and brooding. It was if either the actor or Houston was continually preoccupied with indigestion.
Inasmuch as I can determine from Web research, the events surrounding the Alamo battle seem, generally speaking, accurately depicted on-screen. Out of necessity, Crockett's death was embellished because the truth surrounding it remains murky - but this version is nicely done (and enhances the Crockett legend). THE ALAMO also takes pains not to demonize the Mexican forces - except for Santa Anna, of course. Indeed, some of the General's chief lieutenants argue for sparing the captured defenders. And the fact that native Mexican (tejano) settlers fought alongside the Texans is given due credit. (For once, political correctness meshes with historical fact.)
After the film stutter-starts a bit establishing the characters of Crockett, Travis, Bowie, and Houston, it settles down into being a fine historical epic. And the Davy Crocketts of John Wayne and Fess Parker can stand aside for Billy Bob's.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I have long since lost count of the number of versions and in fact number of times i've watched the story on screen.
i guess it all started for me when i was a child, 'Disney' not only made a film about 'Davy Crockett' ( starring 'Fess Parker' ) they also ran a serial of the story in their weekly comic i had bought for me at the time.
Since when i've always had had a fascination with historic tales of unselfish valour such as 'the Alamo' and indeed 'Zulu'
I believe in this version of the heroic 'last stand' at the 'Alamo' both the film makers and the lead cast made every effort to make it as authentic as it possibly can be.
The defenders of the 'Alamo must of made the 'Mexican's' regret the siege, by actually making the on-coming army pay dearly for every life they took.
Less than 200 most of which were volunteers stood tall against overwhelming odds for thirteen days from Febuary 23rd - March 6th 1836.
The battle did indeed occur before sunrise as this version depicts, 'William Travis' became one of the early victims among the defenders, again as portrayed.
'Jim Bowie' suffering from a debilitating chest related illness may well have died before the 'Mexican's' reached him, there is no record of how 'Davy Crockett' met his maker, he could well have been one of the few that survived the battle only to be executed on site by the Mexican's soon after the Two Hour siege was complete.
Historians differ over the numbers the defenders took in reply, some say around 400 to 600 legend suggesting two to three times that number, we'll never know for sure I guess.
The story has generated much in the way of myth and legend down the years, one thing however ,certain, the men that
stood tall at the walls of the 'Alamo' will never be forgotten.
I also felt that also including 'Sam Houston's' victory over 'Santa Anna' a significant addition to proceedings, not shown in earlier 'Alamo' films, of course it was a significant event after the fall of the 'Alamo' and surrender of 'Fannin's' force and their subsequent slaughter at the hands of the Mexican Army at 'Goliad'
Many of us have seen other versions, but...i do believe this is probably closer to how events took place than many of the previous offerings, though like myself many will have loved 'John Wayne's' swashbuckling version.
'Billy Bob Thornton's' portrayal of the legendary 'Davy Crockett' is far and away the best I've seen, he owned the screen, there of course have been many portrayals down the years, among the other convincing and note worthy portrayals in the film
'Jason Patric' (James Bowie) 'Dennis Quaid' (Sam Houstan) and 'Patrick Wilson' (William Travis)
The heroics at the 'Alamo' have always been of interest to me, i have watched this version several times since on the DVD format
I recently fulfilled a life-time ambition to visit 'The Alamo' a humbling experience indeed, sadly one is not permitted to take photographs inside the Chapel, or indeed touch the wall, preservation of paramount importance to the trustee's.
Because of seeing 'Col J Bonham' listed among the commanders on the plaque inside the chapel, and having noticed one of the
four statues in front of the 'Alamo' to be that of 'Bonham' i was a little confused, i therefore approached one of the curators, who
was gracious enough to engage in an in-depth conversation with me, it seems that a mistake had been made by the sites restoration team by listing J.Bonham as one of the commanders and indeed including him alongside 'Crockett''Travis' and 'Bowie'
when preparing the site for visitors many years ago.
'Bonham' was actually one of the couriers sent out by 'Travis' to get help, it is believed that 'Col J Bonham' did return to the 'Alamo'
with the message that no help was coming, and indeed died alongside the defenders, which of course makes him one of the notable
Heroes.
There is no entrance fee, the trustee's rely solely on sales from the site's shop to maintain the site, and pay it's staff.
If you haven't seen this version and enjoy 'Historical' events such as this, I can certainly recommend viewing the film, it's available
at a very good price at present (would love to see this upgraded to Blu-ray)
There is also a great many Special-Features on-board the disc to enjoy.
*Not sure why this movie failed at the box-office, maybe many decided they had seen it all before.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 1 March 2006
This is the only Alamo film of which I'm aware that actually gets the battle right (the attack took place without fanfare in the pre-dawn darkness and it was all over when the sun was hardly above the horizon). Why then did they get San Jacinto so wrong? (It was not a pitched battle but a bloody massacre that lasted about 20 minutes - the Texians attacked at siesta time and lost less than 10 men, the Mexicans hundreds). I guess they needed a bit of glory and heroism for the US audiences.
Having said that, this is far, far better than the ridiculous, overblown, cliché-ridden John Wayne epic of the same name. Billy Bob Thornton in particular infuses the character of Davy Crocket with new and interesting life, and the supporting cast is also excellent, with only Dennis Quaid a bit of a let-down as Sam Houston.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 14 June 2005
John Lee Hancock's 2004 Alamo is the best full length Alamo motion picture on the market today. (San Antones swear by the 37 minute IMAX "Alamo:Price of Freedom", 1988, which is a solid short on the battle and is shown in every IMAX theater in San Antonio daily. It is unfortunatly still not yet out on DVD). As full length feature films go, however, at least historically speaking, the 2004 Alamo is so much more accurate than the 1960 version, that the two films do not belong in the same category. Billy Bob Thorton's portrayal of David Crockett may be more "low key" than John Wayne's 1960 performance but it is hard to not like the character Thorton creates, which gives us a more human and,in my opinion, a more heroic Crockett. Like Wayne's character, Thorton's Crockett is a somewhat simple man who loves to tell stories and spend time with his friends around a campfire. Unlike Wayne's Crockett however, Thorton's is a man who is unsure whether to embarace or run from his own larger than life image. He is man cursed by achieving what so few of us are able to do: becoming a legend in his own time. In reality, Thorton's Crockett is a regular, almost simple, man who fears death and has self doubt; all of which he overcomes for the sake of his friends and his own personal code of right and wrong. Despite, the strength of Thorton's performance, Patrick Wilson's William Travis is perhaps the most memorable character in the 2004 film(a movie that was critized by some as being short on character development). Like the real Travis, Wilson's character is a vainglorius, uber-patriotic lawyer-turned cavalryman who ends up, quite accidently, with the task of defending the old mission(the Alamo) against an overwhelming force. The transformation of Travis from a egotistical prig to a reluctantly heroic and selfless leader in the last days of his life is one of the most compelling transformations ever seen in film(it happens all the time, how many good army officers or civic leaders were once spoiled self centered college students?). Jason Patric's Jim Bowie is solid as well as a hard man dying of disease in the midst of an epic battle while haunted by the memories of his dead wife. Other characters such as the villianous Santa Ana, the stoically heroic Juan Seguin, the ever-confident politician-general Sam Houston provide a solid ensemble cast of characters, that help inspire all the emotions a good epic should, without stealing the show.
All in all it amazes me how this movie did so poorly in the States(it doesn't suprise me that it would be not as well known elsewhere)and is already becoming forgotten. I feel that unfortuantly there were too many preconceieved notions on what the Alamo story should be, it is ironic that those who grew up with the 1960 version tended to scoff at this new version as revisionist or boring, while Alamophiles and historians who love "Alamo Price of Freedom" seem to view the 2004 film as too "Hollywood". All in all I believe the 2004 Alamo is as John Lee Hancock wanted it to be, the "definitive Alamo film".
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 17 December 2007
Everybody has seen the John Wayne version, so this takes a little getting used to, but it's worth it. Most of this film is chillingly realistic and historically spot on. The four central characters (Crocket, Bowie, Travis and Huston) also take a little getting used to, but you soon realise just how good this film is.

The film covers the part the politicians played in this disaster and you can almost feel the doom filled atmosphere in the fort and the mental stress that it's defenders were put under. A few of the letters and diaries still exist to this day, and again the film tackles many of the issues raised in them.

Billy Bob Thornton is the main star of the film and is very convincing in the role of Davie Crocket, who was mainly responsible for the non collapse of morale in the fort. The film is that good, that it is difficult not to get emotionally involved with the short handed outfit that defended the Alamo.

Why did the film not do better at the box office ?? I suspect the answer can be found when considering the time of its production. No American war film was likely to do well at that time. A few years earlier and I think that the production crew would of been looking at a stack of awards.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Americans love to dwell on their martial episodes and this is a fine example of the modern genre. Everyone looks satisfyingly dirty, there is a fearful deal of prosing, and a lot of bloody action. Given the number of famous historical names that even I could spot I am guessing the average American filmgoer must have been in histo-heaven; even Juan Sequin gets his day in the sun. The technical side of the attack is carefully considered (the zapadores are a fine sight) and little is left to chance - I am reminded of The Last Of The Mohicans here. The cast give their all with Davy Crockett (Billy Bob T) being satisfyingly nuanced; the evil Darth Santa Anna - on the other hand - is a dreadful rotter. An epic tale told at length.

The rip-snorting fiddle tune at the Ball is "Listen to The Mockingbird" composed some years later but just as welcome.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I'd seen the 1960 John Wayne version of this classic battle many a time and always loved the story of Davy Crockett so i was real intrigued to see this film and also to see why it had flopped on its US release. For me it is BETTER than the Wayne version - theres a more realistic feel to it and is far less preachy. Billy Bob Thornton's Davy Crockett is fantastic right down to the look and clothing and the bit when he fiddles on the Alamo's ramparts prior to the final battle is very memorable. The battle itself is spot on - it actually takes place in the early hours as did the real thing and is a bit more graphic and better filmed than the final battle as represented in the Wayne movie. I didnt think i'd get used to the idea of Crockett being killed by the Mexicans AFTER the fighting but it does work (if indeed this is what really happened.) I also prefer the depiction of Travis and Bowie and along with Crockett the myths surrounding these men are debunked a little but they still go out in a blaze of glory. It feels strange that the film ends not with the fall of the Alamo but on a victorious note with the battle of San Jacincto. Dennis Quaid is good but i wish we'd seen more of him - he would have made a great Travis or one of the other Alamo defenders. Overall the film benfits from a more modern look and obvious stuff like technological advances. After the reviews i'd read about this in DVD magazines i wasnt sure whether i'd regret watching this but i didnt and you wont either. A must for lovers of war films or westerns
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on 23 May 2015
this film was a flop, as was John Wayne's Alamo.
For some reasons, films that deal with American
history, don't do too well in the US. Why? Maybe
it is because the truth is far more complex, or just
it is because Americans are too stupid to care...
Who knows... This version, is a more accurate
version of the historical events, than John Wayne's
version. For example, the final attack was at night,
a very dangerous thing to do in military strategy. A
fact that John Wayne, did not included in his version.
But what both versions don't tell you, is, all the these
Texan heros, were, FREEMASONS! As were most
of the Founding Fathers.

Yes, a little fact, that might tell you a little more about
America. OK. David Crockett, Jim Bowie et al, were
all freemasons, who wanted to take Texas for their
own... after the Battle of the Alamo, Sam Houston
captured Santa Ana. His men wanted to kill Santa Ana,
but like Sam Houston, Santa Ana was a Freemason, so
Houston let him live, and made him sign away Texas.

The real history of America, is, a bunch of greedy white
Freemasons, stealing land and resources. Conspiracy
theory? Well, find a US President that WASN'T a freemason
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