Friday, November 16, 2012


In the last two years we've seen movies about the alleged secret side of Lincoln as a vampire hunter, the trial of one of the possible conspirators in Lincoln's assassination, and 'The Lincoln Lawyer' (which actually had absolutely nothing to do with Abraham Lincoln at all, but rather a Lincoln Town Car.)  So it's about time we saw a film about the man himself.  And who better to portray the most American of all Americans than a Brit, right?  Well, if that Brit is Daniel Day-Lewis then it totally makes sense because that guy is one of the greatest actors in the history of actors and a total chameleon.  As you can see from the poster, he totally looks the part.  It's downright frightening how he transforms into his roles in classic films like 'In the Name of the Father', 'The Last of the Mohicans', 'Gangs of New York' and 'There Will Be Blood'.  And with long breaks in between each film, it's truly an event when a Daniel Day-Lewis film comes out.  And, as expected, he completely sinks into the role, portraying our most famous President as a soft spoken, slow moving, fatherly sage-like figure.  You almost feel the need to lean forward to make sure to catch each and every whispered word of his long monologues, because you know each and every word is of great importance.  And that's the genius of Daniel Day-Lewis.

And yet, as much as I looked forward to this film, directed by Steven Spielberg, in some ways it's slightly disappointing.  It's a long and slow paced film, and never quite reaches its potential by offering those kinds of moments we relish from past Day-Lewis performances.  And the large supporting cast is impressive, but few of them have shining moments either, with the exception of Tommy Lee Jones who shows more life here than he has in his last several on screen appearances.  FYI, this is not a biopic, as it focuses only on one year of Lincoln's Presidency.  Oh, and don't expect any large scale civil war battles either.  This is not that movie.  This one's for history buffs and Day-Lewis devotees.  Casual movie goers will likely fall asleep long before slavery is abolished.  (Oops, should I have said spoiler alert?)  Actually, this film might have worked better as a two part mini-series on HBO.  Or perhaps as an attraction at the Hall of Presidents in Walt Disney World?  But, despite its imperfections, I'll still take happily this version over 'Vampire Hunter' any day.

Grade: B


  1. I agree with your grade but I had alot more fun watching Vampire Hunter. V.H. also gave a better history lesson, except for that whole vampire thing, haha

  2. B+ seems a bit stinge-y I say as I am still digesting this film. I think it deserves an A- for the fact it's a smart intellectual yet still quite moving film, seemingly not relying on trendy formula. To mock it with your Disney comment seems inappropriate and petty. Your review didn't really live up to my experience, though, I've seen far fewer films than you this year and perhaps am less desensitized?

  3. Actually, food-ie mike, I must respectfully disagree, and shortly after you commented I re-watched the film and gave it the grade I've been feeling it deserves since I posted my review, a B. B+ always seemed a bit generous to me. I respect the film for being made for adults and not pandering to the lowest common denominator. And I think Daniel Day-Lewis is amazing and easily one of the greatest actors of all time. But it's dull, dry, and doesn't easily hold my attention. When it wins Best Picture at the Academy Awards I will be outraged. (Though, my Disney comment was hardly mockery. Walt Disney World is my favorite place on Earth, and the Hall of Presidents is a wonderful attraction. To say this film belongs there isn't intended as an insult. It's a compliment. I actually think clips of it belong there.) But, as always, I appreciate your comment!

    And TMcG, I agree Vampire Hunter was more fun, in a guilty pleasure kind of way.

    I actually believe that 'Django Unchained' provides the best history lesson of the three. Watching that film really drilled home how terrible man was to other men just 150 years ago. It's hard to believe.