Texas: The Big Picture (2003)
Directed by Scott Swofford
Cinematography by T.C. Christensen

Articles and Reviews

Scores from Reviews Nationwide Given to Scott Swofford's
"Texas: The Big Picture"

Numerical average of graded scores: 59.7 (out of 100)
  Average score is 2.5 stars out of 4, or a "C+"

RottenTomatoes.com freshness score: 33.3%
  3 reviews counted: 1 positive; 2 negative

[In the table below, the column labeled "RT.c" shows a plus or minus sign, indicating whether the RottenTomatoes.com website rated the review mainly positive (+) or negative (-). Reviews with nothing in the "RT.c" column (that is, they have no plus or minus by them), were not catalogued by the RottenTomatoes.com website, and are not included in the RottenTomatoes.com score.]

SourceReview AuthorRT.cGradeGrade
as #
Dallas Morning News Philip Wuntch + B+ 84
Ross Anthony's Hollywood Report Card Ross Anthony - C 50
The Movie Chicks Cherryl Dawson, Leigh Ann Palone - 2.5/5 45

The following reviews did not have a number or letter rating, nor were they catalogued by the RottenTomatoes.com website:
Austin American-Statesman John DeFore

Lone Star pride bursts from the IMAX screen

By: John DeFore
Date: 3 May 2003
Source: Austin American-Statesman
URL: http://www.statesman.com/default/content/auto/epaper/editions/saturday/life_entertainment_17.html

The key thing to realize about the new "Texas: The Big Picture" is that it's not a documentary; it's not even a movie, in the way most moviegoers think of them. Instead it's an epic promotional film, the biggest, prettiest advertisement you're likely to see any time soon.

But there are probably good economic reasons to keep the myth of Texas alive; and, come the dog days of August, locals mightn't mind a colorful reminder of why they live here in the first place. As far as that goes, "The Big Picture" does what it wants to do.

There's scenery, of course: From the vast, craggy peaks of Big Bend to verdant river banks, it's all photographed in crisp, postcard-perfect vistas that make you use words like "verdant" and "vast." In their "this is Texas, it's never too big" zeal, the filmmakers even expand the state's boundaries to offshore oil platforms (one of the film's most striking images, as a helicopter shot zooms in at it) and outer space -- the first word spoken by humans on the moon, we're reminded, was "Houston."

The diversity of native folklife is celebrated, from football to rodeos to conjunto. People in other states may do these things, the viewer infers, but they're probably not as much fun. Some things are unique to our state, of course, like the State Fair's "Big Tex" and the Alamo. In their depiction of the latter, the filmmakers show a Texas-sized tendency toward self-promotion, going hundreds of yards out of the way to find a camera angle that just happens to catch the Rivercenter Mall's IMAX theater, which would be hidden by trees if the camera were at street level.

Oddly, food is barely a blip in this romantic vision -- rather than a slab of ribs or plate of enchiladas, the filmmakers represent our culinary heritage with a short tribute to the corny dog. (It may have been invented here, but only a boob would trade batter-covered hot dogs for Tex-Mex.)

The film's narration is delivered in a straight drawl with cadences straight out of the Bush lexicon; happily, the occasional title cards are a bit more tongue-in-cheek. That glib tone will help those who know better to endure the speaker's goofily earnest proclamations; for instance, Austinites may be surprised to learn that the Capitol building "is every Texan's second home." Or that, when all is said and done, "fact is, most things really are bigger in Texas."

Well, at least the movies are. And like a silver-screen cowboy whose mouth is bigger than his hat, this boastful travelogue is charming in its own way, provided you don't take it too seriously.

Texas: The Big Picture

By: Philip Wuntch
Date: 29 August 2003
Source: Dallas Morning News
URL: http://www.guidelive.com/profile/353000/

Grade: B+

Somewhere along the line, chauvinism got to be a dirty word.

The new IMAX film Texas: The Big Picture, packs bountiful pride into its 35-minute running time, but it removes the sting of smugness from Texas chauvinism by balancing the narration with humor. The filmmakers know that the Lone Star State provides much that's worth bragging about, while also knowing that Texans have a reputation for bravado. The result is a film that should convert all skeptics while thrilling the already converted.

Texas: The Big Picture was produced for the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin. It will be a worthy addendum for students of Texas history and a beacon for businesses considering a Texas location.

In presenting a heartening yet balanced cinematic mosaic of Texas, the IMAX cameras leave nothing unturned, not even a parade through downtown Corsicana. The film salutes Austin's status as a capital of live music as well as the musical attractions of San Antonio's Riverwalk.

It alternates modern skyscrapers with awesome skyscapes, and scenes of horses in their natural environment pay homage to their exquisite beauty. The State Fair of Texas and the Johnson Space Center in Houston are given their due. The folksiness of the fairground scenes never seems forced, and the reverence of the space segments never seems stuffy.

Through it all, the film retains a grand sense of the land in all its various formations. Texas: The Big Picture will give many viewers something to shout about.

Texas: The Big Picture

By: Ross Anthony
Date: 29 August 2003
Source: Ross Anthony's Hollywood Report Card
URL: http://rossanthony.com/T/texas.shtml
Alt. Source: Big Movie Zone (http://www.bigmoviezone.com/filmsearch/movies/movie_reviews/bmz_reviews.html?uniq=111)

Grade: C

What better way to make a film about Texas than in Large Format for the big screen? A good idea maybe... but this presentation doesn't quite fill those spur-clad boots.

Bold and cocky in narration, the film opens with equally punchy and loud quick cuts that'll grab your attention by the horns and focus it firmly on the screen. It's exciting and it's bright. But two minutes later, you'll realize it was only the opening title sequence. The real reel opens on an old red Ford pickup on some country road, then trots into a cowboy campfire under a night full of stars, then stumbles into a horse stampede that falls a little short of thunderous. Still, a kiddy rodeo is a sheep-riding good time. I could have watched much more of that event. Instead, the film squanders its quality on extended un-entertaining shots of college (and/or H.S.) level football gaming, and a pointless indoor square dance. These sequences continue for unforgivable durations. If they were short on footage, I'd much rather have had them run long on the kiddy rodeo!

Animal rights issues aside, this big commercial can't keep it's butt on the bull. And hey -- why no shots of the Cadillac Ranch (one of my favorite sites in Texas)?

Texas: The Big Picture

By: Cherryl Dawson, Leigh Ann Palone and Jenny
Date: 29 August 2003
Source: The Movie Chicks
URL: http://www.themoviechicks.com/summer2003/mcrtexasbigpicture.html

Rating: 2.5 [out of 5]

If you want to do a movie about a state larger than any European country, why you'd have to have a big screen to show it on (that sounds a little like a tall tale, but true) - hence the IMAX movie about Texas. This documentary tries to cover all things Texas: the history, landmarks, people, resources, culture, industry, and the vast diversity of the landscapes. That's a lot of ground to cover in less than 40 minutes, so you don't get too much in depth about anything and some of things they choose to highlight are a little questionable.

All of the vistas they show are impressive, especially on the big screen. Of course, you have to show the State Fair, but did we really need to know the corn dog was invented here. And rodeo, you definitely have to have cowboys and horses, but they spend an inordinate amount of time on the child-endangering sport of sheep riding (who knew the founding fathers of Texas liked to see their little children on the backs of galloping sheep hanging on for dear life - but it is kinda funny in a twisted way). And finally, everybody knows that Texans are fanatics about high school football (there's nothing like the state championship when it comes to intensity), but in a movie this short, several minutes are spent on a couple of private schools and their marching band (hey, we also have professional sports in this state).

The nice things they include are all the sweeping shots that show the beauty of the land, the music of Austin, a quick historical review (not including the shadow-puppet re-enactment of the battle at the Alamo), as well as the impact the state has had: the big money from oil to the advances in computer chip technology to the space exploration launched from NASA.

The text and narration are full of all the cliches you've ever heard about Texas and are mostly humorous jabs. If you're not a Texan, some of the gushing on the greatness of the state is likely to become as annoying as a wet saddle blanket after a long hot ride (okay, we really don't know how annoying this is, but it sounds pretty bad). It seems that the only things included in the movie are things where Texas has the biggest, the best, or the first. This probably isn't going to make new fans; you can just hear them say, "Sure, everything's bigger in Texas - even their egos." This may not be the intention of the filmmakers (and maybe we're just cynical), but it certainly doesn't do Texas justice.

Movie Chick Cherryl:
"There's not a lot about the history of Texas, it's more like a better-than-average tourism commercial with a smidgen of education thrown in, 'Ya'll come' - 2.5"

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