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Watching Tombstone at an Old West Ghost Town with Val Kilmer Was Amazing

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I often talk about how environment and being in the right mindset have so much to do with how one processes a movie. If one, for example, watches a horror movie at 2 in the afternoon with a bunch of sunlight in a room with no other people on a laptop, it’s probably not going to play the same way that it would in a packed, dark movie theater. With that having been said, it’s hard to imagine anything better than watching Tombstone, one of the finest westerns we have, at an actual old west ghost town with Doc Holliday himself, Val Kilmer in attendance. That’s something I recently had the good fortune of experiencing and it was, quite simply, a real treat.

This was a recent screening put on by the Alamo Drafthouse as part of their Rolling Roadshow. Basically, movies are screened in a fitting environment with an experience tapered to fit that movie unfolding around it. In this case, we were brought out to J. Lorraine Ghost Town in Manor, Texas. Upon arrival, we were greeted by a bustling old west town. Saloons, music, cowboys. It was all there. They even gave us cap guns! So, we got to wander around and take everything in before sunset. It really set the mood in a way a theater simply couldn’t.

Once the sun went down on the old west, as it were, the night’s special guest, Val Kilmer, took the stage to help introduce the movie. Val Kilmer is currently battling throat cancer and, as such, he hasn’t been making all too many public appearances. Despite this, Kilmer brought the charm and, even though he had a difficult time speaking, enthusiastically introduced the 1993 classic. It speaks volumes about Kilmer as a performer and it was intensely endearing to witness.

Related: 10 Tombstone Facts You Never Knew Until Now

Val Kilmer then retreated to the audience and Tombstone kicked off on the rather large, inflatable outdoor screen that had been set up. This is one of those movies that I hadn’t seen in ages. It’s one of those things that one just accepts as a quality piece of entertainment in the way we accept water being wet. But having not seen it in some time, it was remarkable to be reminded just how stunningly great it is on just about every level. Not the least of which being the absolutely stacked cast led by Kurt Russel as Wyatt Earp, Sam Elliott as Virgil Earp, Bill Paxton as Morgan Earp and Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday.

Westerns are one of the true staples of Hollywood. They’ve been around forever and, while not running off of an assembly line anymore, they still pop up from time to time and probably will continue to do so until humanity stops filming things. But Tombstone truly does have everything one could want and it’s blisteringly entertaining for all of its 2 hour and 10-minute runtime. It’s pacing is exceptional. Despite having a large ensemble cast, director George P. Cosmatos and writer Kevin Jarre manage to define every character in a short period of time in precise and exacting fashion. We know who everyone is. We know why we should care about them, or why we should despise them. It’s downright efficient.

The movie itself feels so classic in that relatively simple, good vs. evil, law vs. lawless kind of way. It’s a timeless tale of righting wrongs and revenge. It also just looks astounding. Many old westerns were made on a dime and, while quite a few managed to transcend, a great many others just don’t hold up to modern scrutiny. Tombstone may play better now than it did in 1993. It’s the kind of movie we simply don’t see that much anymore. A blockbuster built around an old notion with pure starpower and storytelling as its main weapons of entertainment. But we should see movies like this more often. If only it were that easy. Perhaps I’m just dizzy from how much I enjoyed the experience, but upon a revisit it’s hard not to think of this as some sort of rare magic trick. This is the kind of movie I live for.

While the story is lean and all of the surrounding elements such as the production design, score and costumes are all on point, this is a performance-driven piece. While the entire core ensemble is excellent, not to mention the ridiculous cast of supporting players that includes (deep breath) Powers Boothe, Michael Rooker, Billy Bob Thornton, Dana Delany, Stephen Lang, Thomas Haden Church, Paula Malcomson and even Charlton Heston, plus a particularly fine performance from Michael Biehn, It’s Val Kilmer who steals the show in a way few performers have ever stolen a show in such a stacked cast.

Val Kilmer is a damn fine actor who has lent his talents to some true classics, such as Heat and True Romance, but this is undoubtedly his finest hour. Doc Holliday is charismatic, quippy, layered and every bit the badass that many men, in private, quiet moments, dream of being. The fact that this man is literally inches away from his death bed but has the integrity to fight alongside his companion Wyatt is downright inspiring. Kilmer disappears into the role in a way that is nothing shy of brilliant. It’s so far from an actor putting boots and a hat to go play cowboy. It’s commitment. It’s bold. It’s singular. And in terms of quotable lines, on a rewatch it’s an embarrassment of riches, with “I have two guns, one for each of ya” and “Oh, Johnny, I apologize; I forgot you were there. You may go now,” being just a couple of standouts.

In my mind, it is now one of the true historic failings of the Academy that Val Kilmer was not nominated for an Oscar for this role. It’s downright unfathomable watching it now. But maybe that gets to a larger point. Time has been insanely kind to Tombstone. An entire field full of people, Kilmer amongst them (which unquestionably added something to the mix), sat for two hours watching a 26-year-old movie on a Saturday night over Labor Day weekend and (not to speak for everyone here) enjoyed the heck out of it. Awards are nice, but they don’t define something. The work speaks for itself. Cream makes it to the top and greatness is remembered. We remember Tombstone, for it is truly great, and Val Kilmer will always be our Huckleberry.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Movieweb.

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‘Can’t Handle Rambo?’ New Last Blood Ad Aims To Show Haters As Anti-American Wimps

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The Downton Abbey movie looks like it might kick Rambo: Last Blood‘s ass at the box office, and critics — including Rambo’s own creator — have called Sylvester Stallone’s movie out from the sidelines. So Rambo V‘s marketing team decided to package the film’s antagonists together for a new ad. Taking a patriotic angle, the ad seems to mock the movie’s haters as tea-drinking Downton-loving anti-American wimps who “can’t handle Rambo” and his “disturbing” violence.

Check out the ad Sylvester Stallone shared on Saturday, the day after First Blood author David Morrell said he hated the new Rambo movie and was embarrassed to even be associated with it:

Sly Stallone is famous for playing fighters who beat the odds — his brand is the scrappy underdog who never quits — so this whole controversy is really playing to his strengths.

The ad gets cheeky with the Downton Abbey “cup of tea” pun, but the message is not exactly subtle — loving Rambo: Last Blood is a sign you are a strong red-blooded American. “Can’t handle Rambo?” is like a masculinity challenge. Will you pass or fail? It’s the job of an ad to sell things, and this will probably speak directly to the choir already singing Rambo V‘s praises in defense of critical attacks.

Rambo: Last Blood has a low Metascore of 29 from 26 critics on Metacritic, but that site’s users have given it an average of 8.4/10. Over at Rotten Tomatoes, 89 critics so far have given Rambo V a rating of 29%, with 1,677 RT users giving it an 86% audience score. Not all critics hated it and not all fans loved it, but Last Blood is now the new poster child for the fan/critic divide.

Defending Rambo: Last Blood has become its own movement, and there’s definitely a political edge. Rambo’s creator shared a headline calling Last Blood a “MAGA fantasy.” Sylvester Stallone’s new ad brings in British men as a stand-in for Downton Abbey and to represent a certain type of guy, probably the type who would be mocked as a “snowflake.”

I’m very fond of Downton types myself, but to each his or her own. I also love me some Sly Stallone. I also love honest criticism and think we need more of it, especially if you don’t agree with it. Being free to argue with each other over movies = the true American way.

Based on Rambo: Last Blood‘s opening day box office, it was expected to make around $20 million in its opening weekend, behind Downton Abbey and close to both Brad Pitt’s Ad Astra and the still-slaying It: Chapter 2. Stay tuned for our weekend box office roundup for the full report. And keep up with everything heading to the big screen this year with our 2019 movie release date schedule.

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Wait, Did IT Chapter Two Have An Alternate Ending For Richie?

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Spoilers ahead for IT Chapter Two.

The horror genre has been through an exciting renaissance over the past few years, with plenty of new and exciting projects hitting theaters and raking up dough at the box office. But the genre has always been one that relied heavily franchises and sequels, and a fair amount of reboots have accompanied new original stories. Stephen King’s IT was recently given the movie treatment, with a pair of horror flicks by Andy Muschietti. The sequel delivered an emotional ending for Bill Hader’s Richie Tozier, but was there an alternate (and sadder) ending for the fan favorite character?

Richie was the scene stealer in IT Chapter Two, as Bill Hader had an endless supply of one liners for the members of the Losers’ Club. Andy Muschietti made a narrative choice by deepening the bond between Richie and James Ransone’s Eddie. It turns out that Richie’s feelings for his friend were romantic, and ultimately left unexplored in the wake of Eddie’s death. But Ransone recently shared a photo from the set of Chapter Two, which is going to start endless fan theories about an alternate ending. Check it out.

Um, what? Is there a version of IT Chapter Two that ends with Richie’s death? My head is spinning, and fans of both the franchise and Stephen King’s beloved novel are likely doing the same.

This image comes to us from James Ransone’s personal Instagram page. The image shows what appears to be a prop table on the set of IT Chapter Two. Included is a photo of Bill Hader’s character, which says “In Loving Memory of Richard Tozier”. As such, fans are wondering if an alternate ending for the movie saw Richie dying at the hands of Pennywise, rather than Eddie. But would the ending have been as powerful?

Eddie sacrifices himself during the final battle with Pennywise, but being killed by the demon after saving Richie. Bill Hader’s character was shown weeping and mourning for his fellow Loser, with the movie later revealing that his feelings were actually romantic in nature. Eddie’s death gives Richie the final motivation to destroy Pennywise, with the remaining Losers’ bullying the monster until he was small enough to kill.

The strength Richie has to stand up to Bill Skarsgard’s villain comes with the realization and memories of his time with Eddie. The movie ends with the comedian seemingly coming to terms with his sexuality, re-carving his and Eddie’s initials before leaving Derry. But could the above photo indicate an alternate, sadder ending for the character?

It’s unclear, as James Ransone didn’t offer any type of context with the photo. It’s more than possible that it was an inside joke on the set, and was not actually a prop for the horror sequel. But with Andy Muschietti willing to make some changes to Stephen King’s original story, it seems just about anything is possible.

Killing Richie off would have presumably given Eddie the chance to survive, and possibly come to the same realization that Bill Hader’s character did during IT Chapter Two‘s conclusion. The hypochondriac Loser was shown having the same problems he did as a kid during adulthood. While no longer under the thumb of his abusive mother, Eddie’s relationship with his wife had a similar power dynamic. Unfortunately, he ultimately died before being able to make a real change.

We’ll just have to wait and see if Andy Muschietti ends up commenting on this photo, and whether or not IT Chapter Two had an alternate ending for Richie. Perhaps the answers will arrive with the supercut of both movies, which the director has shown an interest in.

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Megan Fox Says She And Amanda Seyfried Were ‘Horrified’ To Make Out In Jennifer’s Body

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Throughout Hollywood’s history, there have been tons of movies that originally slipped through the cracks before being embraced by audiences years later. Such is the story with Jennifer’s Body. The horror film starring Megan Fox opened in theaters ten years ago to poor reviews and fell flat with audiences with its $31 million box office earnings.

Jennifer’s Body writer Diablo Cody, who famously wrote hit comedy Juno before the now cult horror classic, cites some unfortunate marketing as the reason for Jennifer’s Body flopping. Since Megan Fox was at the height of her sex symbol status, the studio focused on objectifying the actress to sell tickets to young men over the film’s target to women on themes of female sexualization and queer representation. Perhaps it was ahead of it’s time?

Thinking back, Megan Fox remembers her and Mamma Mia’s Amanda Seyfried being timid to film one scene in Jennifer Body where the two friends make out on a bed, revealing a rare instance of bisexuality on the big screen. In Fox’s words:

Now these are the behind-the-scenes things you don’t think about! Make-out scenes such as the one between Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried in Jennifer’s Body have the camera getting as intimate with the viewer as the actors on screen. And for the two young women, the idea of baring all their blemishes was the most terrifying aspect of filming the sequence.

Counterpoint, I don’t think anyone was looking for chin acne or even thinking about that during the steamy sequence! However, it was scenes such as this one that was particularly used in the marketing of Jennifer’s Body to entice male theatergoers and largely ignore the film’s intended audience. Megan Fox told Variety in the tenth-anniversary interview that the film was sold as the ‘Megan Fox is sexy, come see this movie,’ when there was more than met the eye.

Diablo Cody also remembers predicting the film’s flop fate during a test screening with the film’s marketing target. She has one of the responses saved to this day, which read “needs moar bewbs.” Since 2009, Hollywood has certainly shifted its focus and a movie like Jennifer’s Body may have been marketed different and reached its intended audience.

Since the failure of Jennifer’s Body, Diablo Cody has moved on with critically-acclaimed projects such as Young Adult, Tully and television show United States of Tara, while Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried have found successful careers, with Jennifer’s Body remaining a deep cut (hidden gem?) during their acting beginnings.

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