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Gods and Generals

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Gods and Generals

Starring: Robert Duvall, Jeff Daniels
Director: Ronald F. Maxwell
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 220 Minutes
Release Date: February 2003
Genres: Action, Drama, War

*Also starring: Kevin Conway, Stephen Lang, Patrick Gorman, Bo Brinkman, Royce D. Applegate, Cooper Huckabee, Bruce Boxleitner, Bill Campbell, Mira Sorvino

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Susan Granger review follows movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
2.  Steve Rhodes read the review movie review
3.  Edward Johnson-Ott read the review video review

Review by Susan Granger
2½ stars out of 4

Running close to four hours, including intermission, this landmark epic of the Civil War is, basically, a television mini-series released as a feature film. Adapted from Jeff Shaara's best-selling novel and prequel to "Gettysburg," it covers early 1861 through 1863, detailing with precision how the early battles between the citizen-soldiers unfolded. While the story begins with General Robert E. Lee (Robert Duvall) being forced to choose between allegiance to his country and loyalty to his home state of Virginia, the narrative revolves around Lee's devoutly religious Confederate colleague, General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson (Stephen Lang), who was wounded by his own men at Chancellorsville and died of pneumonia. On the Union side, there's Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (Jeff Daniels), a professor at Bowdoin College in Maine. Admittedly, this is historical fiction but the realities of combat are vividly shown.

Writer/director Ronald Maxwell steers his actors into abandoning the 20th century naturalistic method to which we're accustomed and returning to an earlier technique of declaiming their lines. As a result, the military leaders often sound as if they're delivering a formal oration, rather than conversing. Mia Dillon is notable as Jane Beale whose family is caught in the Battle of Fredericksburg, while Kali Rocha is Jackson's wife and Mira Sorvino is less convincing as Chamberlain's wife. Tycoon Ted Turner does a cameo as a jovial officer at a Confederate camp show - and credit goes to more than 7,500 enthusiastic Civil War "re-enactors" who lend authenticity. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Gods and Generals" is a robust yet exhausting 6. Wait for its television debut - and watch history come to life.

Copyright 2003 Susan Granger

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