Gods and Generals - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Gods and Generals Reviews

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November 5, 2016
This movie is really passionate for the Confederate(anti-US, slaveowners) side of the war. It also forgets Stephen Lang's role in the last movie and makes him the anti-Spartacus, insane father Stonewall Jackson. Too bad Martin Sheen couldn't come back, but I don't see how much better can Robert Duvall do here. Don't expect to see anyone familiar from Gettysburg apart from the Chamberlain Bros. I don't see how the dvd is marked "Special Extended Edition" and over two discs when it is only the standard version. If you need something to learn about the war, go to Virginia, because this movie tells little if anything.
October 7, 2016
FOR YOU PEOPLE TO ACTUALLY BE CRITICAL OF THE TRUE FACTUAL HISTORY OF AMERICA, AND THE CIVIL WAR IS AWFUL. THIS MOVIE IS GREAT BECAUSE IT'S ACCURATE.
July 10, 2016
My only question is why couldn't Gettysburg be the movie sequel to Gods and Generals which are both great movies and depictions of the Cival war.
½ June 28, 2016
Maxwell's failed epic is disastrous for countless reasons. But by far the most egregious is the blatant pro confederate feel to film. The film rarely shows any slaves and when you do see them they are happy and dancing. There's even a scene where the rebels were riding out of town and the camera pans over a southern slave whose applauding and cheering on the confederates. Are You serious Maxwell?!? I'm disgusted with this film on all levels. The script is so cheesy it reads almost like a comedy. Stephen Lang's performance is laughable as 'Stonewall Jackson' partly due to the abhorrent script and partly due to lang's seeming lack of commitment to the cursed project. Cinematography was predictable. All in all this movie plays as if it was written by a self righteous confederate general with a false sense of honor and dignity
June 28, 2016
The extended version adds the missing context and coherence. Excellent!
June 28, 2016
great true story about the civil war.
February 1, 2016
Not nearly as good as Gettysburg, or the book on which it is based.

I watched Gods and Generals thinking it was going to be similar to Gettysburg: historically accurate, full of realistic battle scenes, and a wide and even spread of characters from both sides, with characters deep enough to understand their motivations, and the motivations of either side in the Civil War. With the same producers, director and many of the same actors, Gods and Generals promised to be similar.

While the movie was historically accurate and the battle scenes quite realistic (though not to the point of Saving Private Ryan, say, ie it avoiding being gory), the characters were not evenly spread, mainly concentrating on Southern generals, and in particular Stonewall Jackson. The movie seemed more like a Stonewall Jackson biography than a recounting of the first 2 years of the war, up to Chancellorsville, which it pertains to be. Yet, if it is a movie about Stonewall Jackson, why not include Jackson's Shenandoah campaign, surely, after Chancellorsville, his greatest contribution to the Southern cause?

The other problem I had with concentrating on Jackson was that Stephen Lang was probably not the best choice of actor for the role of Jackson. His acting seemed wooden and forced, like many of the actors in the movie, and I could not stop myself from thinking of him as Major General George Pickett, the character he played in Gettysburg. Pickett was a very different character to Jackson, and to think of Jackson as Pickett does Jackson no favours. Clearly the producers wanted to retain as many of the Gettysburg cast as possible, an admirable idea when they are playing the same characters as before (eg Jeff Daniels as Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, the same actors for Gen Hancock and the 20th Maine sergeant), as one recognises them immediately and can fathom how their characters fit in the time-line of the war. Yet having Stephen Lang play Pickett in Gettysburg and Jackson in Gods and Generals makes no sense, for the reasons outlined above. Maybe they wanted to reward him for his role in Gettysburg, and he couldn't play Pickett here, as Pickett was not a significant figure in this part of the war.

Another miscasting was Jason London as Jackson's adjutant, Captain Pendleton. He was not believable as a military character, especially one in authority.

As Jackson was the central figure, there seemed not enough time, or inclination, to develop the other characters involved. Jeff Daniels probably has the 2nd most screen-time and does a good job of showing us Chamberlain's motivations and philosophies. Nobody else really appears for long enough for us to get a handle on what they are about. I thought Robert E Lee would be explored significantly, as he was a more important figure than Jackson or Chamberlain, especially in the context of the entire war, and especially as a he was played by a major actor, Robert Duvall, but we just scratch the surface of his character. Robert Duvall did an excellent job in the role, though.

The most irritating aspect of the entire film is the amount of grandiose speeches. Hardly a scene goes by without someone waxing lyrical about what the war is all about, and means to them, all with accompanying stirring music. It all becomes so predictable after a while - the movie starts starts to resemble a musical, with every scene geared towards leading into a speech/song. While each sides motivations for fighting the war need to be explored, there are more subtle and less pretentious ways of going about it.

The producers clearly wanted to fit in as many of the famous quotes of the period too, sometimes they seem to appear in dialogue for no rhyme or reason, and, like the speeches, whole scenes are geared toward just being a platform for the quote.

This all said, there is a lot of good to be said about the movie too. As mentioned, it was historically very accurate and it does stay pretty much on track as regards the flow of events, only wandering off for the inevitable speech-scenes. The battle scenes are very well re-enacted and do give you a good insight into the battles of First Manassas/Bull Run, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. Fredericksburg was especially good, as one got to really experience how futile, pointless and courageous the Union attack was, and see how the topography of the area played a major role. The confrontation between the two Irish brigades was an especially emotional moment.

The book by Jeff Shaara was far better. It covered a wide spread of characters, and didn't get bogged down in sentimentality and speeches, unlike the movie.

Overall, a reasonable attempt, but it could have been a lot better. By spending less time on speeches and more time on the battles (maybe adding Jackson's Shenandoah campaign, to show where he really made a name for himself, and Antietam, the ultimate demonstration of callous death and destruction) and the major characters involved, and getting the right actors for the parts, the producers would have had a great movie on their hands.
January 30, 2016
Surely does not deserve the 8% it got. I would at least give this film a 45%. It's scale is matched by it's length. Running 4 hours long, it's worth a go. This film is a prequel to 'Gettysburg'. Jeff Daniels reprises his role as Joshua Chamberlain, as do a number of other stars from Gettysburg. Martin Sheen was unable to reprise his role as Robert E. Lee. My only issue with this film is that it suffers from a minor case of overacting here and there. Otherwise, a great watch for Civil War buffs. If you're not too nit picky.
January 27, 2016
A great and historically accurate account of this part of the American Civil War, which is why the progressive critics rated it so low. Excellent movie good for all families to watch together. Infinitely more informative and educational than most public school history classes about the Civil War.
½ December 24, 2015
The extended battle scenes make me wonder if that was really the best way to attack.
½ July 15, 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.
May 16, 2015
As is the case with Gettysburg, this movie lacks realism in battle scenes, is very slow paced, and way too long of a movie. Ronald Maxwell, please don't make another civil war movie like this again.
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..
½ January 23, 2015
Dreadful. A perfect poster child for not pushing your luck with a sequel
½ January 19, 2015
I loved it. As someone who grew up in the South, I appreciated the fact that it wasn't just an American union propaganda piece.
November 20, 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.
½ October 17, 2014
I can't believe I sat through this crap. Jeff Daniels and Robert Duvall are great in this, but it not only comes out as a snorefest, but tries to make you support the people who wanted to keep slaves. At almost four hours long, I strongly suggest you stay away from this shit.
October 9, 2014
This movie is one of the best I have ever seen. As an American Civil War buff and reenactor, I can honestly say that Stephen Lang captures the persona of General Jackson to an art. The combat scenes are so realistic. The soldiers who take hits are masters at it. And the charge of the Irish Brigade at Fredricksburg.....speechless.
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