Rough Riders - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Rough Riders Reviews

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September 17, 2016
It's rather hard to know what to make of this film. On the one hand it's a fun war movie about heroism stuffed with unique characters like Teddy Roosevelt. On the other hand, it embraces the gung ho nationalism displayed by those men entirely uncritically. They admit at the start that the entire Spanish-American war was started based on a lie by American newspapermen, and yet the conquest of Cuba is still treated as a great heroic act. What can one make of such a contradictory depiction? That the movie succeeds as well as it does is largely due to its cast of characters, most particularly Tom Berenger as Teddy. It is probably longer than it needs to be, with repetitive battle scenes dominating the last half of the film, but it does well at capturing the sense of enthusiasm that came from America's first united conflict since the Civil War.
August 9, 2016
Well done film and more entertaining than it should be, but the attitude of this min-series, that war is such an honorable, invigorating, comrade making, masculine pastime for hail-fellow-well-met guys, and glorious to boot, that four hours of this was just too much, especially when this was an imperialist war started by a newspaper man to boost his circulation for a crime that was really a malfunction of too much gunpowder being stored badly in one of our battleships, and ended with us conveniently getting the Philippines and Guam, plus the little bonus of Puerto Rico. And if we were fighting for the freedom of the Cubans (but remember the Platt Amendment), then why did we not give the Philippine people their independence, even after an armed insurrection? War is hell, not glorious at all, and the grunt soldiers are always screwed as arms dealers and big corporations make big money. And that's real history, not this glorified macho-fest.
½ September 5, 2014
John Milius tells his heroic version of Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders, which Milius depicts as an eclectic fighting force made up of cowboys, "wild injuns," professional soldiers, polo pony riding Harvard boys, football players, policemen, and IRS men. Milius tells the story of America's first all volunteer cavalry with his usual gusto and ends up crafting one of his best films. I only wish this film had the scope of Milius' "Wind and the Lion" instead of being relegated to a basic cable made for TV film, but despite it's Turner Network origin, the film does feel as grandious as any Milius film (even if it didn't have the budget). There a great cast, crackling dialogue, but what I think I took away most was that Sam Elliott, playing Capt. Bucky O'Neill, was born to deliver lines written by John Milius. I really wish he'd become part of the Milius stock company of actors earlier in his carer rather than on his last film as a director. God, I wish Milius had been able to get more films made!
½ July 28, 2014
Milius does know how to make a good adventure story out of stretching the truth.
May 20, 2014
Couldn't get past the first half-hour. It's like watching a bad high school play.
May 1, 2014
Great characters portrayed by some really big Western movie actors. Lots of action. Story of how Teddy ROOSEVELT's Rough Riders came together and their involvement in the Spanish Civil War.
March 4, 2013
Biggest Load of Manure!
October 29, 2010
Good movie not 100% accurate but close. T.R. Was a blood and guts kind of guy and had already seen men killed in the Dakota territories during his cowboy days.
He was Asst secretary of the Navy before resigning to fight Spain.
June 27, 2010
Pretty good for a made-for-TV movie. It manages to work in several surprising but true tidbits while playing loose with historical accuracy on others. Some of the casting is pretty good and Tom Berenger does a fine job as TR, but other casting decisions like McKinley's were sketchy at best. Probably has more subplots than necessary too.
June 8, 2010
Includes the Black Cavalry, Indians & Mexican participants commonly whitewashed out of Spanish-American War history; with John Milius at the helm (Dirty Harry, Dillinger, Red Dawn) you know "blood & thunder" action is going to be done right!. Tom Berenger's portrayal of Teddy Roosevelt, warts and all, is so well done you suspend disbelief after a few minutes. Cast is heavy with skilled experienced character acting stalwarts such as Illeana Douglas, Sam Elliot, R.Lee Ermey, George Hamilton, Chris Noth, Dale Dye, Gary Busey, Brian Keith, Geoffry Lewis, Marshall R. Teague, Brad Johnson, Rafael Castillo and many more are a delight to watch (If you blink you will miss an uncredited Ashton Kutcher also). Historically accurate setups with weapons, equipment, etc and the "muscular patriotism" of the era and dedicated Utopians, yet showing how the manly virtues were cynically used for the gain of egotistic frauds (Hamilton as Hearst being an obvious example), Milius gives a well rounded canvas with no lack of excellently staged combat scenarios. A "thinking man's" entry for aficionados of the "rugged all the way" genre of western flavored action films, this one delivers the goods in spades. Stirring musical score by veteran genius Elmer "Magnificent 7" Bernstein. For the record, I should note that as Teddy went to the top in politics, he downplayed his high praise for the Buffalo Soldiers given at the time of the war, reportedly to appease the southern (racist "dixe-crat") vote. A bit of dishonor from one who constantly claimed honor to be such a high virtue. One should also note a similar trend with "Black Jack" Pershing, also portrayed in the film, who made his career on the shoulders of regular army Black Troops, yet when he rose to become commanding general of the American Expeditionary force in World War 1, treated his Black units less than fairly to say the least.
February 16, 2010
Should have been used as a military recruiting movie..."honor", "wave the flag", "kick their ass"...I could almost smell the testosterone. These movies are repellent because too often war is white-washed with overtones of patriotism, rugged individualism, apple pie and glory. This movie showed how a Republican Teddy Roosevelt pushed for war with Spain over the country of Cuba in order to bring the native Cubans "freedom and democracy". Exact replica of a recent Republican President who whipped up the same war frenzy so America would invade Iraq. In 1898, corporations wanted access to Cuba to tap into their sugar and tobacco industries. In 2003, corporations wanted access to Iraq to access her oil fields. Same motive...same method. Always drape war in the flag and people will gladly send their sons (and now daughters) to die with honor. 3 stars because the battles scenes were realistic and complicated but most of the actors were lame and the plot (what there was of it) was choppy. Not a show for peace activists like myself.
February 8, 2010
I've been waiting for this movie to be added to Flixster forever! This is definitely one of my favorite movies of all time. A little hokey and historically inaccurate at times, but overall a decent portrayal of a controversial war in a time long forgotten. With some of my all-time favorite actors, in one of my all-time favorite historical periods, and directed by The John Milius himself, this movie will always remain in the front of my collection.
January 21, 2010
Were watching this movie in history right now. Were not done but so far I am not liking it
½ November 9, 2009
For a Turner miniseries, it is outstanding. The more I watch it a few things start to bug me, but only a little. From Brian Keith's last film, to the first peeks at what would become some very common faces in the 5th Avenue Element it is an incredible cast.

The Milius continuity or whatever you want to call it is wonderful too. Taken with 'The Wind and the Lion' there's a flip flop of a vigorous Brian Keith playing a presidential TR and an aged President McKinley. Geoffrey Lewis plays diplomat to Morocco in Wind, and an aged hillbilly in Riders. Just lots of fun, Busey, Elliott, and Berenger kick butt, too.

And may I add, this film finally got me reading Shakespeare. Skimming at Borders trying to find the play being quoted. (I'm not helping!)
June 15, 2009
Again this story is true not told the best way possible but great none the less.
February 25, 2009
I don't really care for western and war stuff at all and this movie just sums it up. It doesn't even interest me in the least bit at all. If anyone like this go on ahead and watch it, but leave me out of it.
November 8, 2008
not worth watching DONT the acting is terrible!! We're watching it in history gag me..
½ November 3, 2008
Some moments are cheesy and some things inaccurrate but I still love this film. It is well written and the action set pieces were just great. Tom Berenger was also fantastic.
October 19, 2008
I just love Tom Berenger's portrayal of Teddy Roosevelt. He has so much energy, and doesn't know what to do with it.
½ September 24, 2008
Best made for TV movie ever.
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