Lincoln - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Lincoln Reviews

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Bathsheba Monk
Super Reviewer
½ November 24, 2012
First off: lots of history here that I didn't know. I didn't understand the legal technicalities of wanting a constitutional amendment to free the slaves; how Lincoln thought that the Emanicipation Proclamation wouldn't hold after peace was declared as the Supreme Court might squash it. I didn't know that Thaddeus Stevens, rep from Pennsylvania (yeaaah, Pennsylvania!) was so cool or that, as I later read, his interest in racial equality was based on the bible: Egyptians kept Jews as slaves and God visited plagues on them, he thought America condoning slavery would keep us from being prosperous--I don't agree with his reasoning, but I admire the end result and his tenacity. Secondly, the willingness of Lincoln to sully himself in the trenches of politics to get to a higher good was astounding and I wish we had a little more of that in our current-Obama-led administration. Politics ain't pretty, Barrack. My one itsy-bitsy criticism is this: Spielberg did a wonderful job of not sentimentalizing Afro-Americans-then-slaves, great scene where is he talking to his wife's maid saying "I don't know any negroes" for example and you get the point that his is a fight about justice, not some rose colored glasses reading of human nature, but John Williams musical accompaniment was treakle: every time the camera lingered on a dark face the violins swelled and I thought it dragged the story into the Hallmark forest. Sally Fields was wonderful as the hysterical Mary Todd Lincoln--their fight over their son's joining the military was brilliant and bone-chilling. And I loved the blue-gray wash of the film.
Jason Lalljee
Super Reviewer
½ December 23, 2012
Not only intimate and engaging, Lincoln also presents a surprisingly thoughtful and relevant political perspective. Spielberg has never been adept at making gripping political battles but as always, he finds the heart that's at the center of war. Day-Lewis is subtly brilliantly and encompasses the title role, if only ever upping the wow-factor a few key times. Field is great in a role that could have easily been portrayed terribly and supporting performances-notably Jones- are equally great. It glosses some things, like Republican lobbyists, but for the film's purpose it was suitable. One of the things I feared about the film is that it would be more of a fluff piece- Lincoln's life is never played here as expository and he never faces any controversial conflict- the conflict is one that the history books have already told, but for the first time its shown with humanity. Day-Lewis maintains the enigma of the figure while also showing the man behind it- or at least as much as we'll ever know. Is it a revolutionary film? No. Will it change the way you think about politics? Maybe. Is it the most sensitive and compelling depiction we've seen of a beloved figure in recent history? Absolutely.
Super Reviewer
½ January 4, 2013
I guess the hype sucked me in to expecting more.
Nikhil N.
Super Reviewer
½ March 31, 2013
Daniel Day-Lewis is phenomenal. The movie is great because it is entertaining despite the fact that it is a dialogue driven drama. It may be a little too slow for some but there are scenes (notably the voting scene) that are so suspenseful that even an action-junkie will be spellbound.
Super Reviewer
May 10, 2013
A mesmerising performance from Day-Lewis and what a mesmerising movie!
A powerful and wonderful movie, hard hitting and emotional! Shouldn't be missed!
Super Reviewer
November 8, 2012
Really, really good. Daniel Day-Lewis completely became the Lincoln that is in MY imagination. He nailed it in every way. This movie concentrates on the months it took Lincoln, and his staff, to get the 13th amendment through Congress. An historical moment told in the most outstanding way. Never boring. Superbly acted, and directed. It tells more about Lincoln's daily life, and character, than anything I've ever seen before. Well done!
Super Reviewer
½ July 18, 2012
Steven Spielburg used to make movies you love. He now makes movies you admire. There's a difference. From the legendary director who brought us some of the great movies of the past century,from his theatrical debut in "The Sugarland Express" to the birth of the American blockbuster "Jaws", to the man who brought us "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", his only attempt at a comedy "1941", to Harrison Ford fleeing a rolling boulder in "Raiders of the Lost Ark", from Henry Thomas furiously pedaling across the moon in "E.T.",to the terror of a hungry T-Rex in "Jurassic Park" to his attempt at directing adult oriented material ranging from "Schindler's List" to "Catch Me If You Can",and "The Terminal"...not to mention the less said about the sequels to "Indiana Jones",and "Jurassic Park",and his vision of fantasy and adventure ranging from "Hook", to last year's kiddle computerized "The Adventures of Tintin". But the evolution in Spielburg's filmmaking is not a matter of competence but rather perspective. It's notable enough that his epic "Lincoln" is Spielburg's own version of "Gone With The Wind" under his own "Lawrence of Arabia". Screenplay by Tony Kushner(who also collaborated with Spielburg's "Munich",and "Saving Private Ryan")with music by one of the greatest film composers of all the maestro himself John Williams(who has collaborated for composing Spielburg's greatest hits)has produced one of the best films ever made. What makes "Lincoln" intriguing is considering how the biopic he delivers today might differ from the one the director of "E.T." would have been made 30 years ago,or even 11 years when DreamWorks first acquired the film rights to historian Doris Kearns-Goodwin's then-unpublished biography "Team of Rivals:The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln"(on which the "Lincoln" confines itself to the final two chapters of the book) which covers the effect to pass the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution abolishing slavery through a lame-duck House of Representatives during January of 1865,shortly after Lincoln's re-election. Spielburg not only focuses on the political process,the fractured forces both propelling and obstructing the landmark passage of this landmark amendment,but on the other hand the intense Civil War battle sequences and his resolute committment to pass the 13th Amendment. What follows is a revealing insight into the last breath of strategy from dealing with the subject of slavery and Lincoln's desperate fight to end it. The result is a movie that is brilliant in scope and detail with Daniel Day-Lewis' performance that will go down for the ages in scope and excellent visionary as one of the most honored and most respected Presidents in United States History. The cast itself is superb with two-time Oscar winner Sally Field(one of the most respected actresses of our generation) as Mary Todd Lincoln, along with an outstanding cast ensemble that includes David Strathaim, Joesph Gordon-Levitt, Hal Holbrook, along with Tommy Lee Jones, John Hawkes, and Jared Harris. This movie,which has a running time of 178 minutes will be the front-runner status for this year's Oscar race,with 12 Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Director(Steven Spielburg), Best Actor(Daniel Day Lewis), Best Original Screenplay(Tony Kushner), Best Supporting Actor(Tommy Lee Jones),Best Supporting Actress(Sally Field),and Best Original Music Score(John Williams). Of the 12 Oscar Nominations that it received,it won Two Oscars for Best Production Design and for Daniel Day-Lewis(Best Actor). "Lincoln" became a huge boxoffice success grossing $266 million at the boxoffice making it one of the top ten highest grossing films of 2012.
Super Reviewer
½ April 23, 2013
Titled Lincoln, the movie instead focuses on one part of his life. There's apparently much more to Lincoln than is portrayed here. The movie is good, but only in in bits & parts. Pacing it slower only makes it further less interesting. Seems like Steven Spielberg has given preference to cinematic splendor than entertainment (although the genre has less space for it, the dragging sequences could have been well replaced with intriguing ones). The astounding performances make the fare tolerable enough.
Super Reviewer
½ April 15, 2013
One of the biggest, most funded, most beloved and critically acclaimed films of the past decade, it is also one of the easiest to criticize thanks to its subject and the employment of historical fact versus fiction. Lincoln, though a man who did say racist things in his own lifetime, who didn't accomplish much with the Emancipation Proclamation, and who had reservations about legislation for the thirteenth amendment, was well represented. He is never a savior, never treated as anything more than a president who tried to end slavery, though it seemed impossible at the time. He was a man of many quotes, who told stories at a whim and always had a moral at the end of it, and that is clearly undisputed throughout history. This film could easily have been over the top and flawed, and yet it was about human compassion, dignity, and a true historical representation about a period of time that was still frenzied with racism. The film is about the passing of the thirteenth amendment which abolished slavery for all, not just blacks in Confederate states during the Civil War. "Lincoln" deals with the complexities of trying to get the legislation passed, and the president himself even makes remunerations and compromises time and again in order to simply get it through Congress. He isn't perfect, though he does give multiple speeches where he comes across as a grand leader against the institution of slavery. Really though, most of the trite criticism about this film is flawed logic thanks to a lack of understanding of history and people looking for things to gripe about. The supporting cast was brilliant and everyone in this was based on an actual person, there was a lack of liberties taken, and it simply looks beautiful. The cinematography alone deserves a good amount of praise. It definitely does more with the material than many Lincoln biopics, and covers more of what struck the president as prudent before his untimely death. I did like the framing device near the end and found others' disdain for it to be mindless noise. The one thing I thought would have been better covered was the mental illness of Mary Todd Lincoln. The woman had the outbursts and mental capacity of a dementia ridden person and yet she has one tantrum and she is called crazy in a moment of seconds. That was too rushed, and for a screen time of two and a half hours it would have been best covered. The relationships between him and his sons was given considerable time, including his oldest son Robert, who would later become a political figure in his own right. This film dealt not only in the political rigor of the time, but the life of a president, as flawed and haunted as he was.
Super Reviewer
April 13, 2013
Excellent acting by Day-Lewis and Fields. One rare film in that Gordon-Levitt is not compelling, for a change. It's also one heck of a history lesson.
Super Reviewer
November 9, 2012
Lincoln is a movie that was much easier for me to admire than to love. It has some excellent performances that have been mentioned a thousand times by everyone else, but still managed to impress me. Daniel Day-Lewis is almost in another league of acting all by himself. He's simply remarkable. While the supporting cast plays second fiddle to Lewis, there's still some fine acting on display from Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Fields, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Hal Holbrook, and David Strathairn. Beyond the wonderful acting, the film is impeccably made. It completely transports you to 1860's America. The costume/stage designs do wonders. You feel like you are in the room with characters as they change history. The film itself though is rather wordy and uninvolving at times. Don't get me wrong, there is some compelling bits in this film, but there's also too much. It's overlong and sometimes tedious to watch because you know at some point it is going to get good again, but you have to sit through a couple stretches of characters going on and on about politics when you as the audience already know the outcome of the story. I'm sure history buffs will dig this film like there is no tomorrow, but for the general audience this could be a little off-putting. If you told me you loved this film, I wouldn't question it, but if you told me you didn't like it, I would understand that too. I simply am in the middle.
Super Reviewer
½ December 30, 2012
Lincoln is a fantastic period piece that tells a historically accurate story of the passage of the 13th Amendment. The film is a bi slow-paced but it is interesting narrative with great performances.
Super Reviewer
½ September 16, 2012
I like historic dramas and Steven Spielberg but I found the opening, scene setting very slow. It got better from 2/3 of the movie in, it picked up the pace. Story about Lincoln's passion and influence to end the civil war and slavery. Fab performance by Daniel Day Lewis. Really deserved the Oscar. Good cast but not the epic it could have been.
Super Reviewer
February 28, 2013
DDL deserved the oscar, i barely recognized him here. bit of a dry history lesson but well cast with some great scenes. sally field kind of annoyed me as well as gordon-levitt. does this guy have to be in everything?
Super Reviewer
½ November 23, 2012
I wanted to fall asleep after fifty minutes of this bore-fest. People mistake good acting for good entertainment.
Super Reviewer
½ February 17, 2013
'Lincoln'. No one brings weight and gravitas to a performance like Daniel Day-Lewis. Kushner's words and Spielberg's direction shine.

There's a lot of Hollywood to 'Lincoln'. Monologues a minute, sometimes hampered by John Williams' overwhelming score. You know the heartstrings are pulled at, and you mainly go with it. It's an... important film, resting squarely on Daniel Day-Lewis' mannerisms and delivery. It's physical and emotive acting of the highest class, and I felt a flood of emotion late in the film when he uttered the words "slavery is done", with not a hint of dramatic flair, score absent.
Super Reviewer
½ February 9, 2013
Beautifully shot and measured in pace, this is a brilliant period pace by various masters of their crafts. Full review later.
Mr Awesome
Super Reviewer
February 1, 2013
Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" might just as well have been titled "The Passing of the 13th Amendment", as the bulk of the film centers around the circumstances leading up to its passing (which abolished slavery in the United States). As the movie opens, Lincoln (as portrayed by the gifted actor Daniel Day-Lewis) is speaking with some former slaves-turned-union-soldiers about the lack of equality between blacks and whites. It's an unlikely scenario to say the least, but it shows the direction the film is going to be taking us. In Spielberg's hands, Lincoln's mythos gets treated to a hollywood romanticism and the results harken back to the director's earlier output.

The events of the movie take place just after Lincoln's re-election. The civil war is in it's 4th bloody year, and there is dissent in the house of representatives. President Lincoln expects the war to end within a month, and also expects that the Emancipation Proclamation will be discarded by the courts once the war is over and the southern slave states return to the union. In order to keep the slaves free, Lincoln begins a desperate push to pass the 13th amendment. However, many democratic representatives oppose the amendment, because it might hurt the chance for peace and an end to the war, but mainly they oppose it because of their own racial bigotry and prejudice. Lincoln and Secretary of State Seward then launch a plan to bribe, buy out, and in general influence the votes needed to pass the bill, sending out hired guns (led by the suitably sleezy James Spader) to try and pursuade the representatives. Meanwhile, republican party founder Francis Preston Blair (Hal Holbrook) will offer his support of the amendment only if every avenue of peace has been extinguished. He meets with southern diplomats and arranges a peace negotiation. Lincoln must get the bill passed before the end of the war and has the delegates delayed while the amendment is still up for the vote. But will the delay be enough?

Well, anyone who knows anything about history already knows what happens, so in that manner, this movie is a bit of a rhetorical exercise. Lincoln is dutifully bathed in reverential light, but these real life characters never felt quite real, just like actors on a stage. Spielberg only momentarily touches real, live human beings on the screen. In passing, we only get brief glimpses of genuine human beings, whether it's Mary Todd Lincoln's emotional breakdowns ("I'm going to be known as the crazy woman who made your life miserable"), or Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones) revelatory love affair, or, greatest of all, the man behind the beard and hat. Lincoln as portrayed by Daniel Day-Lewis is a mixture of the historical and the human, and it's sometimes an ackward mix. The make-up job, with Day-Lewis' eyes peering out of Lincoln's face can be distracting (at least I was) and sometimes his portrayal of Lincoln's mannerisms were downright creepy. And yet, sometimes they were charming and heart-breaking. But in the end, if anything is flawed in this movie, it's not the performances but the directing. Spielberg can't decide what kind of film he's trying to make, something of humanistic realism, with all it's dirt and beauty, or a reverential hollywood mega-production with sweeping orchestration and grandiose sentiment. This is a good, very nearly great film, that's just hindered by a lack of cohesive vision.
Super Reviewer
September 10, 2012
It probably would have been easy for Steven Spielberg to make a film about Lincoln that deals with the big events, the civil war, the battles and drama. Instead he decided to make a movie about politics, the forcing of an important amendment to end slavery in the United States. That may not sound as exciting and indeed it does require a lot of concentration to follow dozens of bearded characters through political discussions in the first twenty minutes. What carries the film through the slower parts is Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln who adds another unforgettable performance to his oeuvre, one of the strongest ones put on film in recent years. His anecdote-loving, kind and gentle, highly intelligent but far from glazed character is, of course, the pulsating heart of the movie. Once the film enters con artist territory, it gets a much lighter mood at times and even a few great laughs, many of which thanks to the fantastic James Spader and his comrades. Things you can rely on in a Spielberg film are outstanding cinematography, a John Williams soundtrack and fine performances down to the smallest roles and it delivers in all those aspects. In the second half, even the political and historical aspects of the voting for or against the amendment get as exciting as a court thriller even though we know how it ended. A great, enthralling and interesting history lesson for an audience that doesn't mind digging their teeth into a topic instead of just seeing it rush by.
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