For Greater Glory - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

For Greater Glory Reviews

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Super Reviewer
May 12, 2014
Decent movie about faith, and dedication. Good acting from Garcia, and the rest of the cast, in the first half of the movie. However, as time went on things became a bit overly dramatic. The stereotyping of good rebels, and bad government, was overdone. This movie could have been really good, but it just somehow missed the mark.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ January 12, 2013
We're talking about "For Greater Glory", for glory's sake, or "Cristiada", or whatever in the world this film is called. I personally prefer the former title, because it makes this film sound like a superhero flick, especially when you see that one kind of corny poster in which the title in question hangs beneath Andy Garcia while he strikes a justice pose with no one else around, and find yourself walking into this film expecting a sequence in which Garcia blows away an anti-Catholic government resistance with laser vision, then flies up and places a knocked-over, giant Jesus statue back onto the roof of a Catholic church in "glorious" (Get it?) triumph. Okay, maybe this film's poster doesn't look that superheroish, being not quite as likely to summon the bizarre expectation I was just talking about as the act of actually seeing this film, not just because this film features Nestor Carbonell, the mayor of Gotham, as a mayor, and even Bruce Greenwood, one of the many voices of Batman, (There's some nerd out there thinking, "Batman doesn't have superpowers, those are Superman's powers!") but because this film gets so corny that it may as well turn into a superhero film. No, maybe this film isn't quite that cornball, but seriously, with all my talk of titles, if anything, this film should probably be "Overambition: The Motion Picture", as it aspires so much to be a successful desert-set war epic that the filmmakers went so far as to dig up Lawrence of Arabia, and I don't mean T.E. Lawrence, I mean Peter O'Toole, who was probably T.E. Lawrence...'s grandfather's roomate...'s teacher. No, but seriously though, it's good to see that Peter O'Toole is still alive (His eyes are so wide all the time, maybe it's a shocker to him, too), though it's unfortunate that he couldn't be in a better film. Granted, I like this film, thinking that it's not as bad as they say, but Dean Wright could have had a better debut as an epic filmmaker, especially considering that he's worked on the visual effects of such epics as... "The Lord of the Rings", "Titanic" and "The Chronicles of Narnia". Okay, disregarding, "Gone in 60 Seconds", "What Dreams May Come" and [Oh, I'm goin' down in a burnin'] "Reign of Fire", Wright appears to have taste in projects, though could have made a smoother debut as a graduate from epic film visual effects departments to the level of epic filmmaker, because as decent as this film is, it's far from as glorious as it, or at least its title thinks it is, and for more than a few reasons.

The potential proper runtime behind this film's story concept isn't exactly sprawling, though it is hefty, and at just under two-and-a-half hours, this execution of said story concept seems to be perfectly even in length, though that's just on paper, because when you get down to the final product, the film achieves its length through story structuring that is anything but perfectly even, making lengthiness glaring through padding repetition and excess material. This repetition and material lingering isn't too terribly abundant, or at least not as abundant as it could have been, but it is there and pads things out near-aimlessly, though not quite as much as certain areas in the basic story concept outline, in which you can find an excessive abundance of characters and subplots that overblow the film's plot and would be more forgivable if they were more firmly fleshed out, because although you do get something of an adequate understanding of this film's characters and their stories, investment goes distanced more than a bit by the placement of minimal effort into the shaping of this film's depth, even with all of the excessive runtime feeding. This film may be bloated, yet in too many areas, it's more trimmed than it should be, whether when it's doing little to engagingly flesh out thin characters, or simply moving plotting along with a kind of hurrying that isn't terribly exhausting, but taints this film with a fair degree of constant momentum that loses steam after a while, until broken up by the aforementioned bloating, and capped off with an embarassingly slapdashed, forced disaster of an cop-out ending. Perhaps this film's story structure isn't quite as uneven as I make it sound, yet there's no ignoring that the final product achieves the length that its concept ostensibly says it should have through many a moment that outstays its welcome, met by many an area that stands to be meatier, which isn't to say that the script flaws end there, for although Michael James Love's screenplay isn't exactly a disaster, it is heavy with tropes that plague a worthy story with genericism that sparks predictability, while sappy set pieces ignite cheesy spells. The film gets to be histrionic, presenting unsubtle writing spots, made all the more glaring by Dean Wright's storytelling, which, like Love's script, isn't bad, but blemishes atmosphere with delicacy limiting that sparks anything from a near-overbearing overemphasis on pro-Catholic overtones, to a mere thinning of genuineness. Really, if this film is nothing else, then it is overambitious, having every right to go a little bit too far with its aspirations, - seeing as how such aspirations reside behind a project that is rich with potential - but ultimately undercutting what could have been through too much hope, which makes the flaws that truly betray this promising project all the more offputting. The final product falls short of what it wants to be and should be, and yet, with that said, what this film does do well is done well enough to keep the final product going, not to where you can easily ignore the missteps, but certainly to where I at least found things to be fairly entertaining, or at least musically competent.

One of the great score composers of the modern film industry, James Horner holds a catalogue that is rich with strong musical efforts, a bit too much of which is rehashed in this film, only with quite a bit of watering down, as Horner's score work for this film feels a touch to reminiscent of the score work on something like fellow slightly minimalist, ensemble war epic "Glory" (Oh shoot, "For Greater [u]Glory[/u]"; come on, Jim!), only with a few more more traditional score tropes, called more to attention by Dean Wright's overbearing manipulation of Horner's score, thus making for a James Horner score that stands to have a bit more punch, even though it's still quite strong, in spite of shortcomings, having sweep and dynamic depth that may get to be a touch overbearingly misused by Dean Wright's manipulative directorial mishandlings of musicality as an atmospheric supplement, but still has enough genuineness to its crafting, and enough expected sharpness to its performance by the London Symphony Orchestra, to reward. Horner's efforts have their natrual shortcomings, but are ultimately worthy, much like the efforts of Salvador Parra, whose production designs really aren't too upstanding, but are still clever enough in their structure to give this film's world a neat uniquness, and adequately sell you on this film's setting, if not certain action set pieces. For a man who has been fairly big behind the visual effects of such masterpieces of epic action as "Titanic", "The Two Towers", "The Return of the King", and so on and so forth, director Dean Wright could have staged this film's handful of action set pieces a bit better, though it's not like this film's battle sequences bore, being not necessarily juicy enough to be really memorable, but with enough grandness to scope and dynamicity to staging to hold your attention, if not your investment in the substance behind the battles. Technically, this film isn't quite as sharp as I was expecting, or at least hoping it would be, considering the ambition and veterans of technical competence behind this project, but the film still turns in more than a few colorful technical touches - from fine occasions within Eduardo Martinez Solares' generally so-so, to the aforementioned more consistent strengths in technicality - to compose worthy style that adds livliness to substance, something that deserves as much livliness as it can get. I wish I could say that the storytelling behind this film is close to as sharp as the actual story concept behind the storytelling, but I can't, as Michael James Love's script and Dean Wright's direction betray much of what should have been in the execution of this film's worthy subject matter, though not to where it's hard to notice that this film's story is, in fact, worthy enough in concept to ignite a reasonable degree of immediate intrigue, livended up by certain decent performances, particularly those of leading man Andy Garcia, as a noble non-believer who will find his lack of faith both intensified and tested by many a dangerous and emotional conflict, and of young Mauricio Kuri, as a young man who is swiftly thrusted into maturity by danger, tragedy and harsh reality that will prepare him to fight for the sake of what he believes. The onscreen performances are much too underwritten, yet they have their moments, and much of that, to a certain degree, can be said about Dean Wright's offscreen performance, whose ambition gets to be overbearing in its being intense that it makes other flaws that much more glaring, but still has a certain charm to it that, on occasions, claims your investment adequately and gives you a very brief taste of what this film could have been in order to refresh engagement value. There high points in Wright's storytelling are, of course, very rare, yet they still stand, breaking up flaws whose intensity is still diluted a touch by this film's being, if nothing else, kind of entertaining, with enough livliness - augmented by technical strengths and charming performances, both onscreen and offscreen - to get by as a decent film that could have been so much more, but still charms about as much as it bears down.

In closing, a conceptually fitting runtime turns out to be sloppy, going achieved through an uneven story structure that offers both bloating - particularly when it comes to the subplot departments - and hurrying, thus diluting investment, which takes further damage from many generic tropes and sappy histrionics in writing that dilute subtlety, brought all but entirely to destruction by the superficial direction and overambition that makes this worthy project an underwhelming final product, though one that isn't quite as sloppy as many say, as enough entertainment value - spawned from Dean Wright's lively direction, James Horner's decent score work and decent production value that particularly color up action - and intrigue - spawned from commendable performances by Andy Garcia and Mauricio Kuri, and the worthiness of this film's subject matter - is formed to make "For Greater Glory", or "Cristiada", or "Overambition: The Motion Picture", or whatever, a charming war epic, even though it should be much more than what it is.

2.5/5 - Fair
Super Reviewer
December 8, 2012
For Greater Glory tackles a conflict that few know about, and one that has more than enough elements that should make for a compelling drama, as the Cristero War is filled with heavy themes, horrific violence, and enough story to make for good cinema. The result, however, is largely mixed.

The cast of Greater Glory is good, but the acting ranges from okay (Andy Garcia), serviceable, to bad (Eva Longoria). The script they have to work with is a mixed bag as well, with thin characterizations, a lack of a real back-story, but with some good dialogue. From a screenplay standpoint, it seems as if the film tried to tackle almost too much, and therefore never quite got the dramatic heft it needed out of its main plot line. The plot line involving the US and oil interests, for example, seemed particularly out of place.

A few of the action scenes were quite good, but a few towards the end of the film were less impressive. The film was never able to keep a sustained momentum going. It was occasionally entertaining, sometimes tedious, and other times forgettable. The film's timely themes ultimately give it value, and the execution is done well enough to make it always watchable, if not sometimes enjoyable.

3/5 Stars
Super Reviewer
½ July 30, 2012
I am a Mexican, and this "Cristero's historical movie" is crap. This is their "real story":
Government makes reforms against church/People refuses/The army exiles priests/People peacifully resist and the Vatican closes the churchs/Government KILLS PRIESTS AND EVERYONE THAT GOES TO CHURCH/FUCKING WAR and Nazi-level tortures to Cristeros. End.
½ April 13, 2014
While its historical accuracy is somewhat debatable, this film is reasonably entertaining with enough action and melodrama to keep film buffs satisfied. And it's nice to see Andy Garcia in a legitimate leading role instead of a glorified cameo or supporting part.
November 27, 2012
It is highly apparent that a lot of time and effort was put into For Greater Glory, a truish story about the 1920s Cristero War that ravaged Mexico because of the nation's atheistic government practically declaring war on European-influenced Roman Catholic religion that had become the religion of the land. It is highly dramatic and features some beautiful cinematography of stunning vistas and views; but the film is a dud ... because of poor dialogue and even poorer direction. You always know you are watching a great film (sarcasm alert!) when hispanic/latino actors speak in English unless they say "gracias" or count to five. For Greater Glory is not well-made but it had hoped that it would be as it goes all out on period detail, a relatively well-known mostly Spanish-speaking cast and an attempt at a sweeping score (some of which sweeps so dramatically that it produces laughs). Andy Garcia (The Godfather Part III, The Untouchables) stars as Enrique Gorostieta Velarde, a man with waning religious beliefs but of strong national love and pride of his Mexican people who leads the civilian rebellion against the godless government. Much of the acting by the lesser-know stars is over-the-top cheese and is distracting; but this is simply another element of the film that proved beyond first-time director Dean Wright's abilities. It is too bad because this interesting civil war deserved a better film.
May 26, 2012
For Greater Glory is based on a true story of the 1920s Cristero War - which alone makes it interesting to watch- because you probably know nothing about it. I was very distracted by the accents being obviously American English without hardly a hint of a Hispanic spin to it- although the movie takes place fully in Mexico. It just felt wrong. I would have rather watched it in Spanish, with subtitles, but maybe that's just me. This directorial debut from Dean Wright did capture some emotion and drama, but it could have been a lot more powerful. I'd be curious to hear what Mexicans and Mexican-Americans thought of it. I wouldn't be surprised if they actually consider the director's approach somewhat offense.
June 22, 2012
Well acted, with an important message about freedom to worship God. I would like to see more movies with a positive message. Movies are often pointless or vulgar, it is great to see art which elevates.
½ June 13, 2012
Plot: 2*
Script: 2*
Acting: 3*
Visual: 2*
Directing: 2*
Overall: 2.4*

Synopsis: Important story ruined by the storytelling and character building. Too many plot holes to count. Never invests you emotionally in any of the character plot lines. Would like to see this story told in a better way.
June 5, 2012
Amazing! This is a must see move that is not getting the credit it deserves. It grabs to your heart really brings you on the experience that it must have been like. Ignore the ratings and go see it!!!
May 23, 2012
This drama, based on the true story of Government oppression in Mexico and the Christeros' fight for freedom was a very well done, though incomplete, story. Of course, even in 150 minutes one can't tell the tale spanning several years. The directing and cinematography were excellent with very convincing effects that didn't rely on computers every other scene. The acting was superb, except maybe for Peter O'Toole who got a little melodramatic. It's also an important story that should be told! Ironically, when the Administration in the US has shown overt contempt for the Constitution and the First Amendment, we would be wise to learn from the mistakes of the past.
June 2, 2012
I was just reading the critics reviews and most did not like the movie, but I have to disagree with most of them. I think the movie was powerful and emotional movie. I will give it 4 stars I really liked it!
½ May 31, 2012
A true story. I love war stories yet this one is slow and long. It does pick up towards the end. In theatres Friday, June 1.
½ October 21, 2015
Interesting story that brings to life a little known period of time in the history of Mexico. Character development could have been a little deeper. Overall, the movie was a couple hours well spent.
April 17, 2015
loved this movie which tackles a little known revolt of Catholic peasants in mexico against a virulently anti-religious government.
½ June 2, 2012
Really, REALLY corny, although I admit I felt really emotional at the end.
March 2, 2013
Could have been worse, but at the same time, should have been a lot better. This film has a promising plot, but also has poor editing, weak characters, and is not nearly as emotionally moving as the real events. As far as the pro-Catholic element goes, I don't mind films being pro-anything as long as it doesn't take it too far. This one took it too far.
March 30, 2014
Flaws? Perhaps, but trying to fit such a story into a 2.5 hour movie is a tall order. Callas was not a person of depth - he was little more than a atheistic thug who could not tolerate others possessing something he did not understand - faith.

In this day and age, a movie like this is germaine. The folks at Hobby Lobby can tell you how fragile religious freedom is - even in a so-called democracy.
August 4, 2013
Ambitious and sprawling, Wright's epic about the Cristero War is ultimately undone by a jumbled narrative that shifts focus often. This isn't helped by lack of background information for newcomers and thus, it's easy to get lost as to why the conflict was begun. They even throw in sometimes chaotically filmed action sequences with 'shaky cam' as an 'icing on the proverbial cake'. However, its production values, especially for an independent foreign film, Garcia's solid & imposing turn as the conflicted head general, and sweeping score by veteran master James Horner are certainly admirable.
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