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2013 Oscar preview - "Lincoln" review

Is this movie exciting, or does it play like a history book? Click to see my take...

I find the Civil War period to be a fairly interesting time in our nation's history. It's difficult to really imagine what it would have been like to live back then, when races were separated in every way possible. I have often wondered how the abolition of slavery might have looked from the inside. Here, apparently, is our chance to see it up close.

 

"Lincoln" is the story of the passing of the 16th Constitutional amendment. It is 1865, and the Civil War is winding down, although the outcome is not clear yet. Both sides are weary, countless lives have been lost, and some kind of agreement seems inevitable. President Abraham Lincoln is determined to get the 16th amendment passed and abolish slavery once and for all. The dilemma is this: If peace is reached and the southern states that have seceded are accepted back into the union, the amendment stands no chance of passing. Much like the politics of today, deals must be done and secrets must be kept in order to make things happen.

 

Let me start with what I liked. Daniel Day-Lewis is truly remarkable as Lincoln. He will surely take home the Best Actor trophy. He disappears, and it seems as though Lincoln himself is righ up there on the screen. The always fantastic David Strathairn is great as Lincoln's Secretary of State William Seward. Tommy Lee Jones seems like a perfect fit for Radical Republican Representative Thaddeus Stevens, the loudest voice in opposition to slavery. Lee Pace as Fernando Wood delivers as the Democratic opposition to the amendment. With all of thsi terrific acting, you might think I loved this movie.

 

I didn't. It was very good, but it failed to become great, in my opinion. I felt like Spielberg was often trying to push an emotion out of his audience rather than allow it to happen as a natural reaction to the events. I also enjoyed John Williams' score, but the man knows what he's doing. After all, he's John Williams. I would love to say the same for Spielberg. The guy who directed favorites like "Close Encounters of The Third Kind," "Jaws," "Jurassic Park," and "E.T." has lost his knack for storytelling somewhere along the way. It makes me sad to say all of this, but I cannot tell a lie: "Lincoln" had issues of pacing as well. (I know, I referenced the old wives' tale about George Washington. Sue me.) The ending was prolonged for no good reason. It's still worth a view. I would say that you're ok to wait for rental this time. I rate "Lincoln" 84/100. "Lincoln" is showing locally at AMC Showplace 14 with very limted showtimes.

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