It just so happens that 1993 saw the release of two films dealing with the same legend of the wild west. While Wyatt Earp has behind it the conviction of Kevin Costner and an earnestness that borders on the dull, Tombstone is a good, old fashioned cowboy movie. It is endlessly entertaining, with a dynamism and drive that’s simply missing from its accidental rival.
That aside, the film also boasts a genuinely stellar cast, with Kurt Russell as Earp joined by Bill Paxton and Sam Elliot as his brothers. As Curly Bill, Powers Booth is a giggling lunatic, while Michael Biehn provides a steely gaze and quick hands as the brilliantly named Johnny Ringo. The film, however, belongs to Val Kilmer and his camp, bucolic Doc Holliday; all scathing put downs and calm knowledge of his own ability as a killer.
The first hour takes time to establish its characters and bring them all together so that when the infamous showdown comes it is fast, brutal and effective. It is in the aftermath of the O.K. Corral though that we see a different Earp emerge, one not driven by justice, but by cold hearted revenge. It is this Earp that stays in the memory, and this version of the legend that stands the test of time.