On December 24, 1993 Tombstone was released on the big screen to great success by Hollywood Pictures. A scant 6 months later in 1994 Kevin Costner starred as the titular lawman Wyatt Earp in a Lawrence Kasdan directed Western epic. Both films covered roughy the same territory and characters but in two vastly different ways.
30 odd years later Hi-Top is here to finally settle the score:
Tombstone stars Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer as Wyatt and Doc. Wyatt Earp has Kevin Costner and Dennis Quaid in the same roles. This one is a split decision cuz honestly the best combo would have been Costner & Kilmer. Russell plays Earp the same way he plays pretty much all of his characters. Wyatt Earp, Gabriel Cash, Reno Hightower – it’s all just Kurt Russell being Kurt Russell. Costner on the other hand gives his Earp a little less charm and more edge. The real life Earp was a notorious curmudgeon, not easily humored, a real tough SOB. Frankly Russell just smiles and laughs too much. Advantage Costner there. In terms of Doc Holliday, well let’s just say one actor is a real pistol and the other never gets his gun out of his holster. Val Kilmer is an absolute wonder as the tuberculosis ridden gunslinger. Between the two movies there’s about five hours worth of film and the best parts are undoubtedly every second Kilmer is on screen.
Winner – Val Kilmer and by extension Tombstone
Wyatt Earp was written and directed by the legend Lawrence Kasdan. He really really really went for it in this one. The aim was an epic and while he may have missed his mark on that front the movie does at least look like an epic.
Winner – Wyatt Earp
When you’re watching a Wild West movie what you want to see, what you need to see is some real stellar gunplay. One movie really delivered in this regard.
Winner – Tombstone
Shootout at the Ok Coral
The most famous gunfight in Wild West history figures in both films but in one it’s a centerpiece and in the other it’s just another thing that happens. Tombstone as the name suggests plays the gunfight as the culminating event of the movie. In Wyatt Earp it takes about 2 hours just to get to Arizona.
Winner – Tombstone
Overall Champion – Tombstone
Tombstone prevails in just about every category here folks. It’s more fun. It’s more exciting. It’s got a murders row of cameos and supporting stars, everyone from Sam Elliott to Billy Zane and even a blink and you miss him Jason Priestly deliver in a way that the staid and over wrought Wyatt Earp just doesn’t it. Mostly Earp just takes itself too seriously while Tombstone just wants to get off a few rounds and get back to the drinking and gambling.
Now the perfect movie would have been Kevin Costner as Wyatt Earp in Tombstone, maybe some editing wiz out there can give us what the people deserve…