Gods and Generals - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Gods and Generals Reviews

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August 10, 2017
This movie should be amazing. Tons of actors, good looking, score is nice. After the opening credits were probably 50% too long, I discovered that this was a movie about speeches. Blat! Don't care...
August 1, 2017
The negative ratings are mainly from folks that believe the South was all evil and the north was pure and innocent. BS. If not for Pickett getting lost for a couple of days, Gettysburg would have been a resounding victory for the South. Lee and Jackson were far superior to an generals in the Union. Lincoln had 3 times the men and equipment and yet was whupped for 2 plus years. The South will rise again. Forget Hell! lol
July 13, 2017
Best civil war movie ever made. Yes, it's long, and the dialogue can certainly seem to drag on and on at times, but the historical accuracy of the battles and characters is superb. The movie also does a good job of portraying the characters as the human beings that they really were, rather than the monsters that many people wrongly make them out to be.
June 24, 2017
The Civil War is still a very polarizing discussion even 150 years after. The war can't be effectively explained by either of the most popular views, the mythical Lost Cause, or the equally mythical War of Emancipation. However, Gods and Generals is one of very few movies not told totally from the mythical War of Emancipation perspective. That unique status may give some small justification to it leaning firmly to the myth of the Lost Cause side.
The filming is dynamic and fitting of its epic proportions. The costumes and makeup is definitely better than most films of this genre. The cannon fire and battle scenes are above the average.
While some of the characters are 2 dimensional and some suffer from being forced to read lines drawn from their written communiques, Stephen Lang delivers an immaculate performance as Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson and Jeff Daniels gives a very solid portrayal of Lt. Col. Joshua Chamberlain. And, Robert Duvall gives us the most believable portrayal of General Robert E. Lee to date.
Though long, for civil war aficionados this is a very watchable film!
May 22, 2017
The official score by Rotten Tomatoes is completely biased and irrational. The slight confederate bias doesn't deny the fact that it's a great historical movie and that it opens up our eyes to new perspectives on the war that we're taught is completely black and white (literally)
April 25, 2017
This is an unusually long movie, however, it is well worth the watch. Many people think that it is "pro confederate," but that is because we have always been taught that the civil war was just because of slavery, and that everyone in the south was bad. This movie, while partially fictional, gives a glance as to why the events of the early years of the Civil War took place, and how it shaped the men that, whether you like it or not, shaped our nation
½ February 17, 2017
Very skeptical to watch it at first, but it's defiantly a good movie *IF* you liked Gettysburg (1993). The strength of this prequel is expanding its characters from Gettysburg and it's very hard to appreciate them if you haven't seen Chamberlain defend Little Round Top, Hancock initiating the engagement at Gettysburg, etc etc. This movie focus' on the several battles leading up to Gettysburg, and it is very well done despite critical reception.

As a standalone film, it's very hard to like. As a sequel/Prequel to Gettysburg (1993) it's very easy to like and be engaged in.
½ February 17, 2017
I absolutely loved Gettysburg, and found the audiobook of "Gods and Generals" extremely compelling, but the attempt to adapt it to film was an abysmal failure. Worse, I made the silly mistake of taking a date to see it. I am about the biggest Civil War buff you ever want to meet, but I am not ashamed to admit that I slept through at least an hour of this mess. Stephen Lang is galaxies worse as Stonewall Jackson than he was as Pickett in Gettysburg, and Duvall as Robert E. Lee was sleep-inducing, as well. Honestly, I can't think of a single thing to say to praise this monstrosity. The battle scenes feel generic, even though they are miles more realistic than those in Gettysburg, and the terrible acting performances and atrocious direction are like poison pills for a film that spends a lot more time than its predecessor following the generals around between engagements.

Probably the single worst aspect of it all, though, is the fact that there is no dialogue, in the true sense. The characters speak to each other in melodramatic, long speeches. It would be awkward to watch even if it weren't so incredibly boring.
December 16, 2016
I don't know how anyone could give this a low rating..This was a fantastic movie... The Generals in this film are the kinds of leading men we do not have anymore... We need men like this to lead our country, not the crying liberals we have had for many years.....I did not find this a long sit at all....I loved this, and would sit again and watch it....I loved it !!!
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
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.
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