Reviewed by: Nicole LeBlanc
Better than Average
Teens and Adults
Action Adventure, Historical, War. Drama
2 hr. 17 min.
Year of Release:
April 9, 2004
war in the Bible
What is the Biblical perspective on war? Answer
death in the Bible
father son relationship
mother daughter relationship
drunkenness and alcoholics
heros and heroism
Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “From director John Lee Hancock and Oscar®-winning producers Mark Johnson and Ron Howard comes an epic motion picture event, the dramatic true story of one of the most momentous battles in American history. “The Alamo” is the tale of a handful of men who stood up for their passion and ideals against an overwhelming force. In the spring of 1836, in the face of insurmountable odds, fewer than 200 ordinary men who believed in the future of Texas held the fort for 13 days against thousands of Mexican soldiers led by dictator General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna (EMILIO ECHEVARRÍA), ruler of Mexico. Commanded by three men—the young, brash Lt. Col. William Travis (Patrick Wilson); the zealous, passionate James Bowie (JASON PATRIC); and the living legend David Crockett (Billy Bob Thornton)—the Texans would sacrifice their lives for their beliefs, but their deeds at the Alamo would make history as General Sam Houston’s (Dennis Quaid) emotional rallying call for Texas independence. The film is written by Leslie Bohem and Oscar®-winner Stephen Gaghan and John Lee Hancock.”
What turns great men into legends? Does an unconquerable spirit of bravery run through their veins? Or is it something more complicated and somehow more extraordinary?
One of the shining highlights of “The Alamo” is its portrayal of men who forced themselves to remain strong in their stand against all odds. Unlike many dramatized historical movies, this film depicts men like Crockett, Bowie, and Travis as human beings who experienced real fear and pain. The portrayal of human emotion only makes these men seem stronger. It is their struggle to remain courageous that exhibits their true honor. Crockett admits that he imagines running away. But he never gives in to this fear. He is the one who plays his violin in a sort of humorous defiance before Santa Anna’s troops. And in a moving scene at the end, he offers Santa Anna the chance to surrender though the Alamo had already been lost.
It is scenes such as Bowie’s last stand, Travis’ receiving his men’s respect, and a Mexican woman’s refusal to leave her sick brother-in-law that give “The Alamo” its heart.
In addition to the strong main characters, there are various minor characters that add to the tragedy of the Alamo’s fall. From the picture of a fallen soldier’s sweetheart to the wide eyes of a hiding little boy, various details add to the story’s strength. As the movie depicts, the Alamo isn’t just a story about a military battle; it is about men and women who died and sacrificed for a cause that they believed in.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that “The Alamo” contains military violence without resorting to gross brutality that is all too commonly found in films these days. The violence was evidently not appropriate for children, but there was not an abundance of bloody close-ups of brutal killing.
Though this is an enjoyable film to watch, it is not without its faults. A few of the speeches were weak, and some pieces of the musical score were lacking. The film would have been stronger and more captivating if both had been more powerful.
There was some swearing, some women dressed in low-cut blouses, and Travis says, “I gamble, go to whores, run off on wives, but at drinking, I draw the line.” (Too bad he didn’t draw the line at those other things too.) The movie shows him signing divorce papers with his wife, but he never goes to a whorehouse. Santa Anna does have a young girl in his bed during one scene, and it is evident that she is there against her will. But he closes the door to the camera, and nothing is ever seen.
(In all fairness, I must also mention that the Mexicans are definitely the bad guys in “The Alamo.” The movie is biased in favor of the Texans.)
“The Alamo” is definitely an entertaining—and educational film—for teens and adults. Viewers will enjoy learning about legends such as Bowie and Crockett on a more personal level. And though the Alamo ended in pure tragedy, the movie doesn’t end in defeat.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Minor