Gods and Generals - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Gods and Generals Reviews

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Keiko A. --Samurai--
Super Reviewer
½ August 12, 2011
I sat throw the long nearly 6 hour cut of the film drinking Tea and by the end i only asked "WERE THE FUCK DID MY DAY GO?".

Gods and Generals is a dry hollow epic thats boring and has woodern acting and camerea work thats nothing short of standered.

Some nice music but thats it this movie is crap lol
bbcfloridabound
Super Reviewer
½ March 10, 2008
A great Civil War Flim, The scenes are as realistic as its going to get, will teach you much about the civil war that wasn't in those high school books? Do they even teach about the civil war anymore, or is it not politacl correct?
puffchunk
Super Reviewer
October 25, 2007
I do have a problem with this one. IT SUCKS. One of the most boring films in the history of bad boring films.
Super Reviewer
June 12, 2007
This movie didnt do so well in theaters and I've even heard rumors that they are not making the last movie too the supposed too have been trilogy , "Last Full Measure", because of the outcome of this one.
I'm not sure why? I would give this movie credit as being possibly the best Civil War movie ever made! It nails all the historical figures, the battles are awesome, and beyond that it has enough information about everyone too seriously keep your attention on the people - really want too keep watching, too see what happens, too see how they react. I think most Civil War movies lack that, and I rarley reccommend a movie about the Civil War too someone who is not a Civil War buff.
This one however to me, is an exception.
I think it's great for anyone!
It's one of my favorite movies, and Stephen Lang totally won me over, as a fan with his acting in this.
Super Reviewer
½ July 8, 2006
THE-WORST-MOVIE-EVER! So long, so boring and bad CG battle sequences. Every-other word is "God" and there's a prayer every five minutes. Oh yeah-- and it's so long.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
May 29, 2012
Finally, the prequel to "Gettysburg" is here, and it only took nine years and a couple of months, which, in all fairness, is about as long it takes to watch "Gettysburg". I love how this film is supposed to take place a couple of years before the events of "Gettysburg", and yet they've still got a lot of people reprising their roles after they've aged nine years, with the most notable recast being of Martin Sheen, and even then, he was replaced by Robert Duvall, who is, well, nine years older, so we're talking about a Robert E. Lee who magically became eighteen years younger and changed his voice just in time for the Battle of Gettysburg. Well, I guess I can at least forgive the age issues, because Duvall is doing good for 132, or whatever, and he's still a much better casting choice than Sheen; and besides, as good in shape as Robert Lee was, he always had an older look about him. He looked about old enough to appreciate this film, because it seems to be built for the older crowd, not just because older people seem to really dig their history, but because, at a certain age, you typically stop having other things to do, which would explain why most critics didn't care for this, because even with their being old as dirt, they actually have other stuff to get to eventually. Speaking of absurd stuff that I love to poke fun at, I love how I keep barking on about this film being so long, when really, even though it hit the theaters breaking the three-and-a-half hour mark, it was actually much shorter than "Gettysburg", and its timeline is actually broader than that of "Gettysburg", or at least that shorter length was the case until the extended version came along, because now, this film is finally longer than any version of "Gettysburg", including its own extended cut. Granted, this film's extended cut is only nine minutes longer than that of "Gettysburg", which is nothing when you consider the length of these films, yet that's still twenty minutes shy of five hours, and people were having enough trouble getting through the film when it was only a nudge over three-and-a-half hours. Well, I love a good history lesson, am too old to be this young and, as you can tell by my reviews page and how quickly it gets updtated, I have nothing else to do, so of course I like this film, yet there's no getting around the flaws, no matter how long the marching sequences are-I mean no matter how far you march.

"Gettysburg" was made so entertaining because there was more wartime intrigue than politics, and with this being a much less intrigue-riddled period piece that runs close to three hours and forty minutes, or, in the case of the considerably extended director's cut that I watched, from beginning to end, in one sitting, approximately [b][u]four hours and forty minutes[/u][/b] (That's right y'all, I don't mess around), it's to be expected that this film drag its feet here and there and make it all the worse with a rather dry, dull tone, especially when you take into consideration to absurdly excessive padding (Having seen bits and piece of the theatrical cut, I can safely say that, ironically, it's that very padding in the extended version that makes it leaner and more organic, even if it does also make things more uneven and bloated); but regardless of how most make it sound, its slow spots are far and few between, and never terribly severe to begin with, so it's not that much of a problem, and yet, if it was, it would still be among the least of this film's problems, though certainly more of a problem than the "pro-evil-Confederate overtone" that everyone has a big problem with. Man, I almost have to give credit to this film for having the guts to glorify the Confederates, because after all these many generations of simplification, many people soley rest on the idea that the South was riddled with evil, racist traitors who fought the war for the sake of unjust vanity, and only that, when in reality, while the Confederate States of America was not at all morally spotless, so much so that I wouldn't consider myself all that big a fan, both sides of the battlefield were somewhat even in morality and motivation, as well as flaws, with people simply trying to get theirs, which was mostly freedom, yet in different regards. That being the case, I don't so much have a problem with the film's glorifying the Confederates as much as I have a problem with the film's making a dire mistake that's absence in "Gettysburg" did wonders for the comfort in the storytelling: glorifying a single prominent layer to the point of making it seem stand-alone, until we eventually make a jarring shift in focus to another layer, which isn't to say that there aren't forcibly tossed-in sublayers all over the place within these major layers, making the film not only ambivalent in its focus, but extremely convoluted, because for this film to be so unrelentingly uneven in the midst of such a mammoth, heavily layered cast and story, things are bound to get pretty convoluted, and it doesn't help that the film feels so very underdeveloped, which isn't to say that the gratuitously long, five minute opening credits sequence with a song that felt too sweeping - to the point of making you feel like we're looking at the closing credits - didn't hurt in letting you build up investment. Yeah, and if you think those are a lot of problems to simply lead back to merely glorification, then you don't know the half of it, because that glorification itself is only a piece of the massive puzzle of sentimentality that plagues this film through and through. The film is unrelentingly and often forcibly sentimental, so much so that it seems to be built on that sentimentality, so for the sentimentality to have hardly any versatility to it, that means that the film, by extension, gets wildly repetitive, something I could get over a little bit more - seeing as how "Gettysburg" suffered from a similar problem - were it not for the fact that the thing they're playing on a loop over and over again is, again, sentimentality that's so overbearingly saccharine that it only taints the dramatic waters. Whether it be the emotional resonance or - oh lord (so to speak) - the religious overtones, the dramatic angles of the film go heavily melodramatised by the sentimentality, occasionally on an amateur level, leaving this massive dramatic epic to go all but stripped of its dramatic subtlety and come off as somewhat, as put best by the consensus, "pompous", with a considerably more matter-of-fact overtone than the one found in "Gettysburg" exacerbating the arrogance. However, to call this film tedious, let alone bad, is something that I certainly can't get behind, because as wildly flawed as this film is, what it does get right, it nails so fabulously that, at times, it's easy to forget the missteps, for at the end of the day (No, seriously, this film will pretty much take up your day), in my opinion, this film delivers and rewards more often than it doesn't.

A returning Randy Edelman's and a joining John Frizzell's score work is, at times, rather cliche, yet at least these musicians have a good taste in cliche, for although their score is often misused to supplement the emotional manipulation that only further distances resonance, it's still grand and spirited with a fine beauty about it, which is something to be said about the cinematography. Kees Van Oostrum's cinematography may not be as relatively impressive as his, albeit somewhat dated, yet still lush work in "Gettysburg", yet there is the occasional breathtakingly colorful shot, as well as many a shot boasting sweep to capture the scope of the world, with a fine production and authentic locations augmenting an immersive feel that may not be quite as sharp as it was in "Gettysburg", yet is still palpable enough for you to feel the world, no matter how much Ron Maxwell's (Still sounds like the lead in a bad '80s cop show) faulty storytelling, especially when we get to the action sequences. While you can expect more battles in this film than in "Gettysburg", still don't expect that many at all throughout this mammoth epic, and expect what action there is to be as overlong and over authentic as it was in "Gettysburg", yet most of all, expect the action to still engage with its scope and spectacle, with rarely seen yet worth waiting for genuine emotional resonance powering the action with substance and weight to enthrall as it breaks down the horror of wartime battle as much as it breaks down the explosiveness of it. With all of my endless waves of complaints - headed by criticism towards the shoddy emotional resonance and absurd bloating of the mammoth and convoluted story story - and the simple fact that this film is more certainly not as entertaining as its predecessor, the story remains a fascinating and worthy one that may go generally betrayed by overambition and, well, almost as many flaws as subplots (You cannot begin to imagine how much that's saying something), yet is on the whole powered through general triumphant intrigue, which would not come close ringing as true as it does were it not for the performances. I be struck down if the extended cut didn't crowbar in a subplot with John Wilkes Booth (Yeah, because the theatrical cut didn't have enough overemphasized subplots) that, outside of giving us further insight into how the war and political issues affected notable men a ways away from the battlefield, served no terribly organic purpose and was understandably omitted, yet its restoration is still enjoyable, thanks greatly to the previously unseen Chris Conner, whose involvingly charismatic and subtle portrayal of the legendary actor and assassin explores a degree of depth and layers within Booth at this pivotal time which helped in bringing him to the gruesome intentions that his fulfilling has become much more recognzied in him than his once famed acting (Speaking of forced, melodramatised history lessons), which isn't to say that the aspect of good acting was incorporated into the film with Conner. In all brutal honesty, a couple of performances go tainted by much overbearingly histrionic material and context portrayal, with a few simply being pretty bad by their own (If nothing else makes this film look old fashion, then it's the women's "acting" abilities), yet most every character is consistent in being one-note, and yet there are quite a deal of performances that drown that out through charisma and a degree of depth, with a few performances that generally transcend the faultiness. The underwritten and underused, yet well-cast Robert Duvall still engages quite a bit for the few and far between moments in which he's present with that classic sobering presence of pride, sternness and nobility that defined Robert E. Lee, both as a human and a great leader, while the also tremendously underwritten Stephen Lang steals the show by working very well with what material he has to work with, sharply portraying Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's unflinching faith and competence as what it truly was: the mere surface of a vulnerable and haunted human being who the writers and director betray greatly through severe under exploration, yet Lang pays justice to with an involving soulfulness that helps in making him a worthy leader and partial savior of this mammoth mess.

In conclusion, the flaws are as mammoth as the film itself, with unrelenting bloating and excessive repetition that drive unevenness and a deal of aimlessness into the convoluted, unsubtle, often overly matter-of-fact and exorbitantly sentimenal, if not somewhat manipulative storyline being not much more than the highlights in a sea of the countless missteps that would render most any other film thoroughly unrewarding, yet the true magic behind this picture is how it phenomenally stands its grounds against all odds, supported by dashing style and a sweeping production, as well as quite a deal of genuine moments of actually effective resonance and intrigue to compliment a story that, despite its faults, remains worthy and fascinating, as well as further kept alive by a slew of charismatic, if not rather deep and distinctive performances that far outweight the problematic ones and help in ultimately leaving "Gods and Generals" to charge on... and on, and on, and on as a generally intriguing and ultimately rather satisfying mega-epic, regardless of its extreme faultiness.

3/5 - Good
Rostron2
Super Reviewer
½ October 7, 2010
Years after the release of Gettysburg, a second film about some pivotal battles in the American Civil War was released by the same production team that made the previous film. However, where Gettysburg was a successful film in capturing the pivotal battle, and had some standout performances to lend a human view to the slaughter taking place, this film almost entirely fails on all counts.

Although shorter than Gettysburg, tedious and boring are a good description. The dialogue is stilted and filled with speechy platitudes that its near cousin Gettysburg avoided, for the most part. The conversations are as if they were lifted from a wordy book, and are completely unbelievable, even considering the way people expressed themselves in the 1860's.

This movie has a distinctly southern slant, and focuses on one of the most bizarre and brilliant generals on the Confederate side: Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. A weird eccentric in an era of picture book generals, his was a fascinating figure. Stephen Lang tries to make him interesting, but the awful dialogue leaves him no room for exploring the character. He should be the man you love to hate: it could ahve been a story like Patton. However, we're really not allowed to see inside his head. In the hands of another director, this could have been a fascinating study of how a complete nut job was good at one thing: Battle.

The action sequences are well done, but they can't keep the momentum going. The film is badly fragmented and disjointed, and at 3 and a half hours, its horrible to endure. While some of the favorites from Gettysburg are in this (earlier period in the war) film, they have no chance to shine. I can't help thinking they ought to have spent more time with Robert Duvall's portrayal of Lee. Too bad.

It's incredible how many things are just wrong with this film. The awful romanticism of Jackson, and the lame dialogue defeated the armies in this film, not the opposing side.

This one you can leave on the shelf. watch Gettysburg instead.
Blaster1618
Super Reviewer
September 11, 2010
This is a movie specifically about Thomas Stonewall Jackson. It gets lost on other unsatisfying plots along the way, but it is a story about an annoyingly fervent religious General with such poor character development not seen since Charlton Heston played Moses. The best part of this movie was that the jacket lists its length as almost 3 hr and 45 minutes and the movie runtime is 3 hours and 23 Minutes unless you want to watch 22 minutes of credit. It is self-aggrandizing to the point where there are scenes without cut for 5-7 minutes of men tied down by enemy fire using there fallen patriots as shields just sitting still and not talking. Just trying to avoid the bullets passing though their expired bodies. Except for Robert Duvall the dialog between the actors is so utterly unnatural human speech, that at first I just listened to it slack-jaw. Then I estimated they must have pieced it together from actual letter written by the historical figures. Then 15 minutes had passed and I realized I had to sit through another 3+ hours of this tripe. Jeff Daniels as a Yankee officer is some what palatable through the movie, but the arc of his story is left hanging or I fell asleep. This is the second movie in a trilogy. Maybe in the third we find out that Robert E Lee is his father.
broadwaymo
Super Reviewer
April 1, 2007
Excellent film! Stephen Lang was brilliant as George Pickett and is even better playing T.J."Stonewall" Jackson. Robert Duval is a much better Lee than Martin Sheen could have ever hoped to be!
½ February 25, 2015
The worst offense this overlong Civil War epic makes is the fact that it's so clearly drunk on itself. Gods And Generals is a movie so tedious and ugly that it could mistaken for a masterpiece. Don't be fooled. This racist, misguided celebration of war thinks very highly of itself and it can't even seem to compose a single coherent performance (despite some promising moments from Stephen Lang).

This is a very bad movie. There really isn't any other way to put it. It's just bad. Historical accuracy doesn't make a film automatically good, in the same that making a film about the Civil War doesn't make it automatically interesting.
June 28, 2015
Interesting watch with interesting performances.....can not believe some of the negative reviews I'm seeing.
April 8, 2015
I see there are still those who truly believe that the civil war was about slavery, and you can see this false teaching in some of the reviews. Lets have a history lesson please,,, slavery did not become an issue until 1863 well after the war had started(FACT). also less than 5% of the south owned a slave(FACT), this means lets line up 100 confederate soldiers out of the 100 around 95 of them did not own a slave and had no horse in the race of slavery, so why in the world would you think a man would fight to continue slavery when he didnt care about it in the first place, and too there slave also in the north even past the civil wars end such as Grant finally freeing his slaves at the end of the war and when asked by a local news paper, he stated"good help is hard to find". I find this movie show almost as close to the perfect conditions of that time and moral and character of those who fought. This was a states rights issue and still is even to today..
November 7, 2014
Gods and Generals is an ambitious and historically accurate but overlong film that lacks such things as three-dimensional characters or a focused narrative.
½ November 15, 2014
Overwrought and overlong, "Gods & Generals" is too preachy and blunt in its endorsement of the Southern cause, doing very little to explore the moral and ethical ambiguity and dilemmas of the Civil War. Credit must be given where credit is due, however, for a harrowing portrayal of the Battle of Fredericksburg, particularly the charge of the Irish Brigade. For about 45 minutes, "Gods & Generals" is rousing cinema: emotional, visceral and moving. It's a shame it couldn't maintain that energy throughout. Watch the Battle of Fredericksburg, skip everything else.
June 22, 2014
It's long, boring, preachy, and filled with way too many monologues. The costumes and sets are fairly impressive, but there's not much to get excited about in this movie.
September 1, 2013
I like the opening credits with all the flags of all the different military units.

Gods and Generals heavily emphases that each was fighting for their home land not slavery.

Stonewall Jackson refers to the Civil War as a Second war of Independence and not as a Civil War.

General Burnside overestimated believing that their were no Confederates.

Not as decided units.

Cheesiest thing I've ever heard stone Wall Jackson's talk about Confederacy might free the slaves. And the prayer to God.

Gods and Generals ends with a sad emotional ending.

I thought that the film was better than Gettysburg from 1993 I thought. It was a stronger themes in this film. It brought up themes unseen in this film.

It was interesting how Jim Lewis was seen as a character seeking work as a cook because everyone was off to war.

I was glade that they changed the actor for Robert E. Lee in this film because I thought he did a much better Job portraying Robert E. Lee.

It is a story not well told the Confederate story.

I was glade they showed how they fought using bodies for protection and even hid behind the battles.

I thought it was interesting that many times they say that they fight for their own state and was not slavery.

I thought that it was great they brought the Maine cast from Gettysburg into this film.

This film presents the different types of loyalties that existed for the cause whether it is to state, home, cause, rights, freedoms duty.

This film also presented a strong religious references not seen as strong as this film.

I thought it was good that it showed the Irish fighting each other on both sides of the Civil War. That was rarely seen in Civil War films.
½ October 30, 2013
"Gods and Generals" - more like "God, This Is Generally Awful." So many things wrong with this movie, most notably the script and the acting: two areas of primary responsibility for writer/director Ronald F. Maxwell. I'm certain the acting could've been salvaged. Talents like Duall, Lang and Daniels just don't give sub-par performances at the same time. Though I will say Robert Duvall, during those few times he's on-screen, does do as decent a job as we expect from Duvall. No, I don't think any actor could make gold out of this terrible script. Very few of the characters actually talk to each other. Instead, most of the time, they're speeching at each other, with one person delivering a soliloquy after the other, and all in this god-awful dialogue that sounds like it was based only on readings of Civil War letters from Ken Burns documentaries. Most of it comes from Stephen Lang, who got the lead as Stonewall Jackson. He's a decent actor in general, but in Gods and Generals, all we hear through the majority of the movie is Lang as the dour, uninteresting, Bible-thumping version of his bad guy in Avatar, but who also likes to play with little girls (yes, there's an obvious, oh so obvious, metaphor around the girl, her inevitable death, and Jackson's sobbing response). But back to the dialogue, in this universe, Jackson would wake up in the morning and address his breakfast as such: "Today, before Gawd, I spread the butter of Liberty over the toast of Freedom, then I will drink my coffee of Justice in order to free myself from the tyranny of Sleep." It sucks like that, and for 3 and a half hours! 3.5 hours of people making ridiculous speeches at each other and making declarations of prayers, interspersed by generic battle scenes that don't depict much more than adults playing Pretend Time. There is very little to distinguish the battlefields or the two sides from each other. The one major clue, according to this movie, is if soldiers are fleeing in defeat, they're from the North. There's nothing to connect us to the battles beyond our how we already feel about the Northern and Southern armies. Few, if any, of the characters are meaningful enough to warrant any sort of dramatic feeling towards their fate in the battles. The movie, however, obviously wants to engender sympathy for the Confederates. That's not surprising considering Ted Turner bankrolled (and had a cameo in) the movie. We all know how he likes to colorize history. And if the movie wants to slant history to a certain viewpoint, I accept that. It happens. But what's embarrassing about Gods and Generals is how it almost entirely erases slavery as a key component of the war or at least for fueling hostilities between the two sides. By my estimate, there are only like 4 or 5 black actors who have any lines or significant screen time. Of them, only one makes reference to being born a slave. The others aren't referred to as slaves by name, but are treated as blacks who are pleased as punch for the opportunity to work for nice white people without being paid....or freedom. There are two scenes where Jackson and a woman both speech with black servant-like characters. The black characters are proud to fulfill their duties to the white characters, and the white characters get to appear magnanimous in their attitudes towards blacks. The only time slavery is addressed as a significant issue in the conflict is during a speech by Jeff Daniels in the latter third of the film as he expresses a desire for all men to be free. The moment comes and goes so independently of the rest of the action, it's almost like it was thrown in just to avoid major controversy, like the filmmakers were ready with a defense of, "see? We included slavery." I went into Gods and Generals eager for a decent Civil War movie, but this is a train wreck as epic as the movie's scope. Unless you're a big Civil War buff with a 150 year old chip on your shoulder because the South lost, don't waste your time on this movie. It's full of a lot noise, signifying little.
½ August 16, 2013
The music never approached the majesty of that in "Gettysburg'. The battlefield at Fredericksburg was obviously CGI. However, most of the criticism was unfair. The influence of religion in thought and word of Lee and Jackson was indeed that profoundly felt and expressed. Robert Duvall was infinitely better than Martin Sheen! I found the pace reasonable, given the widely varied familiarity of the audience with this history. There were casualties depicted; does one now need prolonged obligatory mutilation and carnage la 'Private Ryan'? What of the arm amputee in shock asking to retreat? Is not character developement thru' dialog important? Does one want continuous battle like the so many current films, with characters only a superficial filler? These so called 'critics' are self-appointed; note the frequent drastic varience in score with the viewing public!
June 1, 2013
very dull movie that breaks a ton of screenwriting rules. opening is not compelling in the least, huge act 2 lull after the midpoint, daniels is pointless and doesn't show up until act 2. characters introduced have 2 scenes and die in ten minutes. dialogue is on the nose and characters frequently go into oration of scripture or Shakespeare. Stephen Lang did a good job as stonewall, duvall was fine as Lee. technically middling. basically an unbearably dull 4 hr movie with a terrible script. the civil war movie I wrote is much better even to someone besides me. this was written by a total novice. no redeeming visuals but some good acting to keep it from my worst ever lists.
February 11, 2013
It's not bad for a movie to be lengthy, but this nearly 4 hrs. long Civil War epic is guilty of many cinematic crimes besides, the most egregious of which is that it is mercilessly boring. Maybe for some Civil War buffs it would be of more value, but I bet that for even them, it would only be so for the battle reenactments. Often, stiff and emotionless acting is referred to as "wooden", and that term could be applied to this film as a whole. The American Civil War is rendered into this epic conflict that was fought for no reason at all really. Slavery is mentioned a few times and declared to be bad, but it's not shown as being very much related to the war at all. In fact, there is no clear explanation for the war. The South secedes because it's damn well their right to, and the North invades their own country because their tyrannical or misguided or whatever, even though the South only believes they're the same country as the North when the script deems it convenient.
The filmmakers are obviously Civil War obsessed, but the only benefit to that is the play-by-play battle recreations, but that doesn't count for much if they're filmed so clinically and sanitized that they become mere textbook portrayals. The generals and officers are so very idolized here that they bare no interest at all as they mechanically spout such reverential and sober monologues of tremendous self-importance, not unlike the overall approach to the material by the filmmakers.
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