Wyatt Earp (1994)

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Released 14-Jul-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western Main Menu Audio
Featurette-It Happened That Way
Featurette-1994 TV Special - Wyatt Earp: Walk With A Legend
Deleted Scenes
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 183:00 (Case: 181)
RSDL / Flipper FLIPPER (85:35)Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Lawrence Kasdan
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Kevin Costner
Dennis Quaid
Gene Hackman
David Andrews
Linden Ashby
Jeff Fahey
Joanna Going
Mark Harmon
Michael Madsen
Catherine O'Hara
Bill Pullman
Isabella Rossellini
Tom Sizemore
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music James Newton Howard


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
German
Spanish
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
Romanian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    There are few figures that loom larger in the mythology of the American West than Wyatt Earp (Kevin Costner). Born on March 19, 1848, his early years were spent in Iowa, California. During his long life he worked as a stagecoach driver, buffalo hunter and most famously as a deputy marshal, both in Wichita and Dodge City, where he became friends with such figures as Bat Masterson (Tom Sizemore) and Doc Holliday (a remarkable thin and seedy looking Dennis Quaid). Where his legend was really forged however was Tombstone, Arizona. In 1881, a long simmering feud with the Clanton gang ended with the famous gunfight at the OK Corral, subject of many a film, and a small but significant part of this three hour epic directed by Lawrence Kasdan. Three of the Clanton gang were killed. The three Earp brothers, Virgil, Wyatt and Morgan, survived, along with Doc Holliday. Wyatt and his third wife Josie lived throughout the United States, from San Diego to Alaska and finally in Los Angeles, where he became firm friends with actors from early Hollywood. He died at the age of eighty, and according to the film, without ever having been so much as grazed by a bullet.

    How disappointing then that such interesting subject matter has been turned into such a long, drab, boring wannabe epic. At a languid three hours this film succeeds admirably... in draining the life out of this beloved American tale. Part of the blame must rest with Kevin Costner, whose one note performance lacks any sort of edge or dimension. The film attempts to chronicle much of Earp's life, but it bogs down with too many characters and not enough momentum to pull them through to the end in a satisfying way. Gene Hackman does what he can with a thankless role as Earp's father, but he disappears too early and his sermonizing on the importance of family and justice sounds forced and overdone. There is some occasionally touching and sometimes humorous interplay between the Earp brothers that provides some relief amongst an otherwise uneventful film. So keen does Kasdan seem to have been to provide us with Earp's whole story that everything is levelled out into this well tended but uninteresting plateau. The infamous gunfight at the OK Corral is strangely anticlimactic. It's like the Wild West on sedatives. Only the performance of Dennis Quaid, wheezing, sly and self deprecating as the Doc is memorable.  During the film Wyatt constantly reminds the Earp wives of the importance of he and his brothers' bonds to each other and the film reflects the sentiment - women are pushed to a distant background, wasting some talented actresses, including JoBeth Williams, Isabella Rossellini and Catherine O'Hara.

    As already mentioned this film runs three hours, which is way too long. The director and cinematographer's love of lingering shots that sweep the dusty plains at sunset or float through the boughs of trees adds minutes to a film that can ill afford them. James Newton Howard does what he can with the score to inject some life and swagger into an excessively sober story but too much is stacked against it. Muted performances (Quaid excepted), slack editing (the entire final sequence on the boat in Alaska is as shamelessly nostalgic as it is unnecessary) and the absence of energy in the storytelling make this one Western deserving of a place in obscurity.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Flipper Alert: Yes, they still make these wretched things. The need to flip arises at 85:35, just after Wyatt says "It all ends now."  Unfortunately it doesn't, as the film is only halfway through.

    The video quality is very good, presented at its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with 16x9 enhancement.

    Sharpness is uniformly good if not outstanding. Night time scenes are plagued by some haziness but there are not many of them. Shadow detail is also good, although some scenes do suffer from a lack of clarity, notably in some poorer lit scenes in the saloons.

    Colours are generally well rendered. In keeping with the last couple of westerns I've reviewed, the landscapes are shot with a painter's eye, and the rich hues of sunset, open plains and endless skies are admirably captured. Skin tones are natural enough.

    Scenes with smoke are marred by a little grain, but it is not problematic. MPEG artefacts are a little more of an issue, and are most noticeable during night scenes, where a preponderance of blue creates a few problems regarding noise. There are occasional instances of aliasing.

    Film artefacts are fairly minimal but occasional scratches and specks of dirt prevent full marks being given.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    We are presented with three audio tracks, including French and Italian Dolby 2.0 tracks. The major track however is a full 5.1 Dolby Digital English track that is of high quality.

    Dialogue is easy to comprehend at all times, even if some of the actors mumble their lines a little. Audio sync is excellent and there were no major blemishes or dropouts.

    The surrounds are given plenty to do, and between the musical score, gunshots and thunder we are fairly well immersed in the action. The subwoofer is also well utilised. In sum, an excellent track.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The extras package is a reasonable effort, but the major features are not as well presented as I would have liked.

It Happened that Way

    A fairly routine fourteen minute feature that barely touches on the making of the film. There is the usual back slapping and only occasional moments of insight into the extensive production. Interviews with the director and cast add a little interest but not a lot. Presented at 1.33:1 without 16x9 enhancement.

Walk with a Legend

    This twenty two minute documentary promised much but sadly didn't go much beyond that. Hosted by Tom Skerritt and featuring archival footage of Spartacus, The Searchers and Dances with Wolves (all presented in butchered 1.33:1 format) as well as interviews with David Lean and Charlton Heston, it provides a cursory look at 'epic filmmaking' before providing a more in depth but still insufficient look at the making of the film. Costner says how much he loves epic movies and Kasdan says how much he admires Costner, but there isn't much left after that.

11 Deleted Scenes

    Presented at 2.35:1 without 16x9 enhancement and lacking in the video quality of the film proper, these scenes are individually interesting but I couldn't be more thankful that they were excluded.

Theatrical Trailer

    Surprisingly presented at the correct aspect ratio and with 16x9 enhancement, this trailer is of decent video quality and offers a good survey of the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Audio track differences appear to be the only things to note when comparing the Region 1 and Region 4 titles.

    The Region 1 misses out on:

    So, with an extra track, and inherently better video, the local product wins.

Summary

    Wyatt Earp is disappointing, although Costner fans need not hesitate in investigating it. Beautiful visuals, a canny performance by Dennis Quaid and great source material are not enough to sustain it through three very long hours.

    The video quality is commendable.

    The audio is excellent.

    The extras are of an average quality.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Scott Murray (Dont read my bio - it's terrible.)
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDYamaha DVR-S100, using Component output
DisplaySony 76cm Widescreen Trinitron TV. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha DVR-S100 (built in)
SpeakersYamaha NX-S100S 5 speakers, Yamaha SW-S100 160W subwoofer

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Comments (Add)
Region 1 Is a Two Disk Edition - Chris W (read my bio)
Packaging error, soundtracks - Tom (read my bio)