"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.