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THE ALAMO

Holed up in a San Antonio fort in 1836, a couple hundred or so stouthearted Americans--among them Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and Sam Houston--do deadly battle against the Mexican Army.


CAST: Billy Bob Thornton, Dennis Quaid, Jason Patric, Patrick Wilson, Jordi Molla, Emilio Echevarria, Matthew O’Leary


DIRECTOR: John Lee Hancock

"Long stretches of ‘The Alamo’ are simply dull…At two hours and 15 minutes, ‘The Alamo’ feels both interminable and attenuated. There are powerful moments—striking images of the pathos and horror of war—scattered amid the mundane TV-movie dramaturgy…You leave ‘The Alamo’ uncertain of what you're meant to feel: is this a celebration of patriotic sacrifice or an illustration of war's futility? Like the debate on our Mideast morass, there will be no agreement on the answer." --David Ansen, Newsweek

"Like ‘Collateral Damage,’ ‘Buffalo Soldiers’ and a few other post-9/11 features, ‘The Alamo’ has a bit of a timing problem. Consider the subject: an undermanned, underequipped, virtually ad hoc military action of questionable intent, orchestrated from afar by a famous Texan. It's pure provocation…While ostensible leads Patric and Wilson are burdened with engorged dialogue and noble moments, Thornton gives the film's centerpiece performance, playing the country's first prisoner of his own celebrity…Thornton makes him conflicted, fearful, fatalistic and in his way, truly heroic." -- John Anderson, Newsday

"Billy Bob Thornton stands out with his colorful Davy (‘Call me David’) Crockett, a devilish, fiddle-playing, somewhat mournful sort whose reputation precedes him…Crockett, Bowie and the others are flawed, complicated men instead of cardboard heroes. The movie captures their sense of melancholy and despair as they redefine themselves and their convictions in the face of death…‘The Alamo’ is an effective drama, full of Hollywood-type grandstanding but also seriously interested in its characters. By allowing everyone, including the Mexicans, their pluses and minuses, what emerges is the question at the heart of most wars: Was it really worth it?" --Jami Bernard, The New York Daily News

"Moviemakers have been telling the story of the besieged fortress since the days of silent film, and this week's version probably won't be the last. But here's hoping I'm wrong -- at least until someone comes up with a truly accurate account…The bulk of the picture is taken up with stagy dialogue and fighting scenes, postcard-pretty sunset shots, and bits of old-time music…it's dull, derivative, and as lifelike as a heap of historical figurines. Few will remember this ‘Alamo’ for long." --David Sterritt, The Christian Science Monitor

"This is a good movie… a movie that captures the loneliness and dread of men waiting for two weeks for what they expect to be certain death, and it somehow succeeds in taking those pop-culture brand names like Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie and giving them human form…Davy Crockett, the man in the coonskin hat, surprisingly becomes the most three-dimensional of the Alamo heroes, in one of Billy Bob Thornton's best performances." --Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"In re-enacting, with a heavy heart and a heavy hand, the actual events surrounding the storied 1836 battle in the war of independence fought by Texas against the Mexican forces of General Santa Anna, the movie is both elegiac and trivial. This is an accomplishment of sorts, generally of the sort that no one plans…We're left with figures who are less than mythic but also less than human." --Elvis Mitchell, The New York Times

"Billy Bob Thornton is the real hero of ‘The Alamo’…Thornton lends gravity, focus and humor that are otherwise in short supply in this serious-minded but meandering, talky and action-deficient epic… despite Thornton's yeoman efforts and a remarkable 52-acre set, you're more apt to forget ‘The Alamo’ than to remember it." --Lou Lumenick, The New York Post

"It gives Thornton a chance to be the anti-John Wayne, dryly funny in his modesty, a natural politician and unnatural man of action. Thornton's gregarious warmth helps bolster Patrick Wilson's fine but low-key Travis, who's hobbled by a patchy script, and Jason Patric's fine but even lower-key Bowie…Dennis Quaid (shown at left) has much worse luck as Houston…Quaid drops his voice, pops his eyes, and looks like a man who hasn't moved his bowels in months." --David Edelstein, Slate


"The sprawling new feature film ‘The Alamo’ is as Disney-fied as ‘Pinocchio,’ barely challenging the images Americans have treasured for 150 years…the film's almost entirely devoid of sociopolitical context that would help us understand what was really at stake…Billy Bob Thornton brings simple warmth to David Crockett…Dennis Quaid has exchanged his famous smile for a fixed scowl and ferocious stare; he looks like a leprechaun who has lost his gold, suffered a fatal heart attack and passed through the hands of a gifted taxidermist." --Lawrence Toppman, The Charlotte Observer

"Just how lame is ‘The Alamo’? Hint: You'll be rooting for the Mexicans…director John Lee Hancock fails to make us care about the conflict or its aftermath. Even the violence is boring -- and if you can't even get that right, you must really be doing something wrong.
Only Billy Bob Thornton, in a wonderfully charismatic performance as the legendary frontiersman Davy Crockett, emerges unscathed. Indeed, he brings a focused energy to the film that it otherwise lacks." --Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Texan director John Lee Hancock's moderate, apolitical, war-is-hell dramatization of the famous 1836 battle that shaped the future of a free and independent American Texas isn't nearly the flop that the exceptionally harsh and unavoidable advance chatter has suggested it is…But ‘The Alamo’ never harmonizes into a cinematic experience any more resonant than the average, manly, why-we-fight pic, or coalesces into a stirring cry for freedom." --Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

"This Alamo may stray as close to the truth as Hollywood will allow…But as a movie, it comes up wanting. It's seriously devoid of back story; just what everybody was fighting for, and why, is never made clear…for all its attention to detail, it never feels quite real…But it does have Billy Bob Thornton's Davy Crockett, a legend in his own mind as well as everyone else's…He's the film's most layered character -- in fact, he's really the only one -- and Thornton's performance is as deft as it is crowd-pleasing." --Chris Kaltenbach, The Baltimore Sun

"…a deeply compromised film, if not a broken one. Yet pockets of ‘The Alamo’ bristle with unexpected vitality, and the casting of Thornton turns out to have been both absurd and inspired. His portrayal of the aging former congressman behind the tall tales has an irreverent, aching awareness of the gulf between legend and fact, and, in one scene, Thornton delivers a campfire reminiscence about a youthful massacre of Native Americans that nags at you like a toothache through the rest of the film." --Ty Burr, Boston Globe

"The brave men who fought and perished at the Alamo believed fervently in their cause. For ‘The Alamo’ to work, the audience must believe as well. That never really happens…In the end, ‘The Alamo’ is a valiant but losing effort…only Thornton merits true audience identification. It might seem too obvious to have sly ol' devil Thornton play sly ol' devil Crockett, but the gravity of his performance tells us that Crockett is the only fighter aware of the stakes." --Carla Meyer, San Francisco Chronicle