Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gods and Generals (2003) Review:

As a prequel to Gettysburg (1993), one of the greatest war epics ever made, I expected director Ronald F. Maxwell to make another film just as great. He did make good film in a sense, but with some minor flaws. Once those flaws are recognized, the rest of the film is almost as great as its predecessor. It is unfortunate this film was a financial failure because I really wanted to see this civil war trilogy end and not just be left in the corner to collect dust. Right now though, this franchise is going nowhere. I blame Ted Turner for this because if he had not forked out so much money, maybe there would be another movie on its way. I would like to know what was needed for the budget to be raised by $30 million dollars. It doesn't make sense to me.

Jeff Daniels (as Chamberlain)....maybe a little heavier
First on the list is getting the bad things out of the way. What doesn't work in this motion picture? For the most part, viewers will complain that the point of view on this film is more one sided than the other. I won't deny it either, this film does focus more on the Confederate troops than it does the Union troops. But there is a reason for this; the Confederate States of America were the ones who lit the fuse of starting the civil war. So it is they who should be focused on, not the Union. I think it's good the way the story starts off. Then as the second movie, the story slowly shifts more of its focus to the Union side. As a suggestion, if the last installment is made, the point of view in that film should be like the first but more on the Union side. That is who wins in the end right?

The only other thing that people have problems with this film is the use of dialog. Sorry folks, I'm not a historian or civil war buff, so I can't clarify which is more accurate, the dialog in this movie or in its sequel. I will say though, most of the dialog is normal, it is just some parts where it seems like what is supposed to be said is drawn out in a extremely excessive way of talking. It was almost like they were quoting Shakespeare. But this doesn't happen frequently, so I guess you can't have your cake and eat it too.

Robert Duvall replaces Martin Sheen as General Lee
Bruce Boxleitner replaces Tom Berenger as General Longstreet
& Stephen Lang as Stonewall Jackson (far right)
As for the cast, most of the actors from Gettysburg reappear again, although some may be playing different parts. Jeff Daniels still is Lawrence Chamberlain, but for the other main characters, they are all different. Robert Duvall as Robert E. Lee has replaced Martin Sheen. For Lee's old war horse, James Longstreet, is now played by Bruce Boxleitner. Unfortunately, I really liked the performance of Longstreet by Tom Berenger and it is a little weird to see Alan Bradley from Tron (1982) with a beard and talking with a southern accent; but it works I suppose. Playing Stonewall Jackson is Stephen Lang and I'll admit he does good job. His speeches may not be moving but they are well performed. Besides these characters, everyone else stays the same.

The reality of this movie has been raised as well in this movie. Gettysburg (1993) was rated PG, but this has been bumped up to PG-13 for extended battle sequences. Even so there are only some parts that are graphic and they're for brief moments. If this is the reason why the budget was raised, I'm sorely disappointed. The music, although the themes were made by Randy Edelman, were carried out by John Frizzell. Although I prefer Edelman, Frizzell does have some nice tunes. I assume this is because the first couple years of the war were made to sound mournful and gloomy. All in all, Gods and Generals was a good film and should have gained more respect for what it's worth and not what it displays.

Even though Gods and Generals is long in running time and has some small weak points, that does not make this film not worth seeing. This film is held up by its good performances, and excellent battle sequences.

Points Earned --> 9:10

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