The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Touchstone/Disney - 1993
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 130 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH, English ESL, French, Spanish
Starring: Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, Dana Delaney, Jason Priestly, Stephen Lang, Powers Boothe, Michael Biehn, Thomas Haden Church, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, Billy Zane, Michael Rooker, Terry O’Quinn, Charlton Heston, Billy Bob Thornton
Directed by: George P. Cosmatos
Music by: Bruce Broughton
Written by: Kevin Jarre
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: April 27, 2010
"Justice is coming"
Kurt Russel turns in a gripping performance as US Marshall Wyatt Earp, and Val Kilmer ignites the screen as the outrageous Doc Holiday. Together, they team up to bring law to the lawless in a notorious showdown with ruthless outlaws at the OK coral! Get ready for an explosive, action-paked adventure the Wild West would never forget!
Being a film fan I have a devout appreciation for the western genre. The frequency with which we see them coming from Hollywood has dwindled compared to bygone eras. The term “classic” in modern western films isn’t thrown around much which is a shame. As a result we have to make the most of the offerings we have which in most cases really aren’t bad at all. Case in point is the subject of this review, Tombstone . Released in 1993 Tombstone revolves around retired Dodge City lawman Wyatt Earp and his brothers Virgil and Morgan after they move to Tombstone Arizona with their families seeking to capitalize on the town’s booming wealth prospects. Unfortunately they run afoul of a band of outlaws known as The Cowboys which leads to one of the most infamous showdowns in western folklore. The story focuses of the events that lead up to the gunfight at the OK Corral while portraying the close relationship between Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp as well as the enduring romance that developed between Wyatt and Josephine.
I like Tombstone and my affinity for it remains as strong now as it was when I first saw it. Unlike 1994’s Wyatt Earp, starring Kevin Costner, which came out shortly after Tombstone, this film is less about Earp’s personal life but more specifically focuses on the events that transpire after they arrive to Tombstone. Peace and tranquility wasn’t to be found, and the tumultuous events that followed would forever change them. There is plenty of detail within the script which introduces a myriad of characters as it lightly touches upon nearly all of them with the primary subject being the problems between the Clanton’s, the McLaury’s and the Earp’s and later Wyatt’s vendetta against The Cowboys. There are strong characters on both sides which are supported by terrific performances by the ensemble cast. Notables include Stephen Lang as Ike Clanton, Michael Biehn as Johnny Ringo, and Sam Elliott as Virgil. Honorable mention goes to Powers Boothe as Curly Bill, and Dana Wheeler-Nicholson as Maddy. The performances by Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer are in my opinion the primary reasons that Tombstone works as well as it does. Their onscreen chemistry, in addition to the depth with which Kilmer portrays Doc Holliday is engaging to watch. Many feel that Kilmer’s superb performance overshadowed Russell. I think that he offset him more than outdid him but there is no question that Kilmer is deserving of the accolades that he received. There is plenty of action, memorable dialogue (“I’m your huckleberry”) and interweaved drama to keep the story balanced, exciting and compelling. This is aided by smooth pacing and a heartfelt and touching tribute in the final scene between Doc and Wyatt that in my opinion is perfectly placed. Tombstone is a personal favorite that I have anticipated for release on Blu-ray since the format’s inception. I must admit to being disappointed that this isn’t the Vista Series version with contains the extended director’s cut however I am thrilled to now own it in high definition on Blu-ray Disc.
The rating is for western violence.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Tombstone comes to Blu-ray Disc from Buena Vista/Disney featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 25 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.8 mbps.
Disney’s consistency in the high quality of their catalog release titles on Blu-ray continues with Tombstone as I was pleased with this high definition video presentation. Colors were natural and visually satisfying with delineated primaries that, depending on the lighting, could be bold and vivid. Fleshtones were warm, with appreciable tonal separation and lifelike depiction. Images were discernibly detailed and sharp which brought out plenty of textural nuance within clothing, physical features, and objects onscreen. This made it easy to detect the coarse surfaces in wooden structures, the pattern in the weave of the costumes worn by the cast or fine gradations in facial hair and skin. Long range visuals were resolved with above average clarity and depth which highlighted the film’s beautiful cinematography. The video had a grainy texture that was apparent but its rendering was consistent, film like, and never infringed upon fidelity. Contrast was stable throughout the presentation as detail and variable stages in bright whites and gradations in gray tones were distinguishable. Blacks were slightly crushed but appeared dynamic when onscreen with mixed content. Dark sequences had appreciable dimension and sufficient shadow detail that combined with the video’s higher resolution to enhance depth of field in wide angle shots. There were a couple of instances where the image softened and color appeared drained as the shot took on a grayish monochromatic hue. It lasted momentarily and when the camera angle switched it returned to normal. I noticed it in chapter 9 when Wyatt and Josephine are alone in the grove of trees (right before she stands up and moves over the tree). Similarly in Chapter 11 when Wyatt, Morgan and Virgil are playing pool, just before the mayor comes into the saloon, it happens again but to a lesser degree. I checked these same scenes on the Vista Series DVD and it is the same but less noticeable due to the lower resolution. I would say that it is inherent to the master and doesn’t appear to be compression related. Comparing the DVD to the Blu-ray Disc was interesting as I always thought that the THX certified Vista Series presentation was quite good, and it is, but going from one to the other made the vast differences in resolution, sharpness, depth and color obvious. Overall I felt that this was a strong 1080p encode that presented this film in its finest light.
Having seen this movie numerous times I am familiar with its soundtrack. This isn’t an aggressive surround mix but it gets the little things right which make it all the more engaging. This lossless encoding when compared to the lossy DTS 5.1 sound on the DVD offers a noticeable improvement in sound quality by opening up the front soundstage, elevating the perception of low level detail and offering broader dynamic range. Dialogue is full bodied, clearly intonated and supremely intelligible through the center channel. Bruce Broughton’s stirring music score invigorates the sound field with its orchestrated strings, smoothly textured brass and authoritative percussion driving the film’s storyline. The score utilizes the entire surround platform via a front oriented perspective that is enhanced by ambient surround activity that encapsulates the listening position and enriches dimension. This is where the track excels dynamically as the music has robust impact, defining aural expression and pinpoint imaging. Some of the effects such as gunfire are a bit dated but I wouldn’t describe it as sounding unsubstantial. Clarity and fine detail are notable which gives lesser sounds within the mix good audibility and articulated refinement. The action based segments are plenty involving as the blend of music and effects combine to deliver a busy and immersive soundscape that fills the room. I enjoyed every minute of it.
- The making of Tombstone - 3 featurettes:
- An ensemble cast - 12 minutes
- Making an authentic western - 7 minutes
- The gunfight at the OK Corral - 7 minutes
- Director‘s original storyboards - 4 minutes
- Trailers/TV Spots - Theatrical, Teaser, Friends
Tombstone is a solid genre entry that needs no excuses made for it when compared to some of the better western films of its era. It’s a movie that I never tire of as I revel in the scope of its marvelous ensemble cast, stirring action and excellent onscreen chemistry between stars Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer. I have been looking forward to its release in high definition on Blu-ray and am happy to report that the results are excellent as it has never looked or sounded better. I ran a comparison of the THX certified Vista Series DVD to the Blu-ray disc using various sequences. In terms of video quality this was an exercise in futility as the Blu-ray Disc is notably sharper, detailed, and vivid which results in a more rewarding image. The differences between the lossy DTS 5.1 track and the lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track aren’t night and day but the improvement in sound quality opens the front soundstage, elevates the perception of low level detail within the mix and broadens dynamic range. For those that currently own the Vista Series DVD which contains the extended director’s cut of the film plus a host of excellent bonus supplements, the decision to upgrade will essentially depend on how important image/sound quality are to you. Personally speaking I am not getting rid of my Vista Series two disc set but will supplement it with the Blu-ray Disc as it is superior from a technical perspective. Frankly I wish that Disney had just released the Vista Series package and included both the theatrical and extended cuts. For now we fans will have to accept this offering which when all is said and done ain’t too shabby. Recommended!
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS20 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Anthem AVM50v THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-83 Universal disc/Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package