(Review originally written at 14 March 2006)

Dull. Long. Those two words describe best how this movie is like.

Let's just analyze this movie shall we. First 45 minutes nothing happens but endless character introductions. Some of the characters are introduced but yet later in the movie they are hardly featured anymore, so why spend so much time on introducing them in the first place? After that finally something interesting happens, when the first battle occurs. After that the movie however happily continues with introducing some even more characters. I admit that the middle and somewhat towards the ending, the movie becomes quite good and interesting to watch. This is thanks to the battle sequences that are impressive enough to make you keep watching the movie.

Now, I have absolutely nothing against slow moving pictures, who take their time to build up its story and characters but it has to serve a purpose. "Gods and Generals" is filled with tons of everlasting sequences that absolutely add nothing to the depth and personality of the characters and are dragging endlessly, with cheesy lines delivered by some average actors. Yes, even Robert Duvall disappoints. He's not General Lee, he's Robert Duvall with make-up on playing General Lee. He just didn't convinced me in his (quite small) role. The way all of the characters are portrayed is an huge letdown. There are many 'personal' sequences with some of the character but NEVER does it go deep or emotional touching. It all lacks a real sense of realism and because of that we also never truly get involved with the story and its characters.

This is a movie, not a mini-series but yet the movie is build up like a mini-series, with it's countless character introduction and so called 'deep' dramatic sequences and dialog. The movie even has a made for TV kind of look, with some simple camera-work and dumb fake looking beards and wigs. All of it is packed in an almost 4 hours lasting, incoherent told movie, that simply is way too long. Seriously, they could had easily reduced the running time with 2 hours and saved the rest of the footage to make a mini-series version of the movie with. The movie would had been less dragging and boring to watch had it been a shorter one, that's for sure.

But it's not just the running time which makes this movie a boring one to watch. The story is also a major problem. The story is a pretty good and interesting piece of history but yet it's made without any emotion or sense of realism. For instance during the battles not one soldier ever looks scared like his life is in danger. This is due to the poor extra's in the movie. All of the extra's have the kind of look on their face like; 'I'm in a civil war movie! Even though I have no ambition or interested in becoming an actor. Oh, I hope I don't mess up the scene! I can better just keep a blank neutral expression on my face'. I'm sorry but I'm often annoyed by those sort of extra's in movies. It's the directors job, or the assistant director to motivate these people and build up the right mood with them but in the case of this movie I don't have the feeling the director did any attempt on this. The movie is filled with these sort of (small) issues, which all added up helps to make "Gods and Generals" a failure and a mess of a movie.

Basically the movie is totally uninteresting to watch for people who know very little about the civil war. The movie is at times childish documentary like, with showing constantly on screen the names, dates and places during battle sequences and other sequences but yet the movie feels hardly educational. It feels so completely pointless all, the way the movie is made. People who are interested in the civil war might still find some joy in this movie but even they must admit that this movie is mainly just nothing more than a long dragging overproduced drama that nowhere gets touching, tense, involving or realistic.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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