Kevin Costner once again projects his own self-image of the all-American hero, this time portraying legendary frontier marshal Wyatt Earp.
And as usual, it’s too self-important and far too long. The first hour is especially tiresome, as the young Wyatt’s life is a dreary combination of sentimentality and melodrama, but things do pick up once his father bails him out of jail. Even then however, the underused supporting cast seem far more interesting than the stone-faced and characterless Costner; even the plum role of Doc Holliday – played by Dennis Quaid who is clearly enjoying himself – feels little more weighty than a cameo. The aspect of male bonding does work well though, making it all the more obvious that the relationships between the Earps and their other halves rarely exceeds the level of soap opera; Costner’s relationship with his second wife is marked by some particularly cornball dialogue.
The main drawback to this project is the fact that this story has been told so often that it would take something truly spectacular to make it worthwhile and not only is this not the best version, it’s not even in the top three; it lacks the elegance of My Darling Clementine, the grittiness of Tombstone and the good-natured humour of Gunfight At The OK Corral, making Wyatt Earp a reasonable but unremarkable addition to the genre.