The film centers mostly around the personal and professional life of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, a brilliant if eccentric Confederate general, from the outbreak of the American Civil War until its halfway point when Jackson is killed accidentally by his own soldiers in May 1863 during his greatest victory.
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by Dane Youssef
"LIKE A HISTORY LESSON... BUT NOT QUITE AS INFORMATIVE"
Many sequels suffer from repeating and rehashing the majority of the material from the original. Some suffer from not being enough like the original. Some are lucky and...
Sometimes movies are bad because they are simply moving at a slow pace with little to no interest or substance. Sometimes sequels just have too much to live up to.
This is an example of just about every bad quality I've mentioned. It doesn't outright stink and suck, nor does it leave you cross-eyed with perplexion or indifference, either. But it doesn't really inspire any particular feelings for you at all, really. Positive or negative.
"Gods and Generals" is a movie that might be perfect for recovering war veterans in trauma wards. A movie that moves on a quiet, comatose pace. "Gods and Generals," a prequel to the famed and magnificent "Gettysburg" has little or no energy. Everyone just appears to be back to set things up for "Gettysburg."
This whole movie is a 2 1/2 hour set-up for a punch line we've already seen---with nothing happening or really going on here.
Oh, I'm not saying it's horribly made. It's put together with skill---the whole look and sound of the civil war. It might be the kind of movie that would be shown in a history class.
It's complete with big-name actors like Jeff Daniels and Robert Duvall in full civil war garb and giving famous and poetic quotes as if they're striking a pose. They appear to be posing throughout the entire movie. It's a civil war re-enactment.
But they're just goofin' like any other group of men doing a civil war re-enactment.
There is one real battle sequence where everybody lines up and charges to die and to kill. The body count begins to pile up---like ANY war movie worth it's salt should.... but it doesn't capture the true stink and ugliness of war in a "Saving Private Ryan" or "Braveheart" sort of way, or even the original "Gettysburg."
Perhaps because all those were R-rated movies and this movie doesn't want to lose it's PG-13 movie, it's more about poetic stories and makes the civil war a backdrop for all this.
At least in my opinion, the actual problem with the fact this movie runs at the pace of a comatose snail. Still waters run deep? Not here.
The movie moves so slowly at times that these people seem to have started the civil war simply out of sheer boredom and so they could say thing that would become historic. This is part I to a III-part series ("Gettysburg" was part II). I look foreword to the next in the series.
"Gods and Generals" all felt like set-up where "Gettysburg" delivered the actual punch-line. I hope the final in the series (these are all adapted from books) doesn't just tie up loose ends.
Let's all hope, shall we?
On the film scale--every scale--"GODS AND GENERALS" rates as two stars out of four, 3.5 out of 10, a dozing viewer in his seat (that's the rating system from the Chicago Examiner"). Eh...
SPECIAL NOTE HERE: Matt Letscher, a really good actor ("Gettysburg," TV's "Good Morning, Miami" and "The Mask of Zorro") at least is given more to do than his nameless and bit character in the original movie--but it's still just not a good movie, I'm afraid.
by Dane Youssef