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Lincoln (Movie) Review

 
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At A Glance...
 

Genre: ,
 
Director:
 
Age Rating:
 
Actor:
 
Length: 149 Minutes
 
Release Date: November 16, 2102
 
Producer: Dreamworks, Twentieth Century Fox, Reliance Entertainment
 
Final Score
 
 
 
 
 
5/ 5


User Rating
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We liked?


Historic realism, coupled with phenomenal acting and a great director, makes for a really good show.

Not so much?


Some viewers may feel some the actors were underused.


Final Fiendish Findings?

For those who have been following the development of this movie, it has been a long journey to get here, with dozens of scripts, three changes in writers, and even the replacement of the man who was to play Lincoln himself. (Liam Neeson was originally signed on to play the part but dropped out during development, having aged to the point he felt too old to play the president.) With so much lead up and press, it would have been easy for this movie to fail. Such is the case with many movies which garner so much hype and end up failing to deliver. However, in this case Lincoln was not only worthy of the hype; it was decidedly well worth the wait.

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Posted November 19, 2012 by

 
Full Fiendish Findings?
 
 

Lincoln, Steven Spielberg’s sweeping biopic of Abraham Lincoln, has finally hit theaters.

For those who have been following the development of this movie, it has been a long journey to get here, with dozens of scripts,  three changes in writers, and even the replacement of the man who was to play Lincoln himself. (Liam Neeson was originally signed on to play the part but dropped out during development, having aged to the point he felt too old to play the president.) With so much lead up and press, it would have been easy for this movie to fail. Such is the case with many movies which garner so much hype and end up failing to deliver. However, in this case Lincoln was not only worthy of the hype; it was decidedly well worth the wait.

Everyone knows the “story” of Abraham Lincoln. He was the sixteenth president of the United States, writer of the Emancipation Proclamation and The Gettysburg Address, and the man who lead a divided country through the military and moral battleground of the American Civil War. Such a legendary man would be easy to idealize and present as an otherworldly hero rather than simply a man. However, if there is one thing that can be said about this movie, one thing that makes it the masterpiece that I do believe it arguably is, it is that the film presents these politicians and soldiers as men, flawed but striving to be better. In no area is this more apparent than in Daniel Day Lewis’ performance.

I’ve heard several people comment on the pitch of Lincoln’s voice in this movie. For some reason, there seems to be an idea floating around out there that because Lincoln is an American icon he should have a deep and raspy tone to call attention to his importance. Historically speaking though, this is not thought to be true and Day Lewis does not play to this. His pitch is higher than the actor’s usually registers and in some ways this may be one aspect that makes Lincoln more relatable; though in all aspects the actor seems to have immersed himself so fully in the part it is hard to say that the tone is really a large contributing factor. The president is played not has a hero, but as a man struggling with his own conscience when given the chance to either end the war or to pass the thirteenth Amendment. “I can’t end this war until we cure ourselves of slavery, this amendment is that cure!” Lincoln rallies in one of the more poignant moments of the film and throughout the audience is privy to the life of this man trying to toe the line between what is right and what it is seen by others that he ought to do. Day Lewis’ performance feels organic and true, and it is without a doubt one of his most powerful performances to date.

The supporting cast in Lincoln is also phenomenal, handing in praiseworthy performances. Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones and James Spader stood out for me, but none among the cast turned out anything less than stellar performances and I have to assume that is in part due to both their individual skills and the direction of Steven Spielberg. Field is subtle in dealing with the mental instability and heartbreak that encompasses the character of Mary Todd Lincoln, playing the woman with both grace and passion at appropriate moments. Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens has to make perhaps one of the most interesting choices when he speaks to the House of Representatives, and as this character is able to convey more with one desolate look to the balcony than some actors are able to do with a whole page of text. It is apparent why both Field and Jones have had such enduring careers when you witness their performances. The biggest surprise for me, however, was James Spader. Though his part was not large, he stole every scene he was in as the colorful W. N. Bilbo. I’ve seen Spader in a few roles, but they’ve always been sort of run of the mill roles that were by and large very similar to one another. In this film, though, he plays against type and does so well, lending a humorous air to his scenes but still maintaining the seriousness of the topic and his characters’ position on the subject of slavery.

Lincoln is just simply a classic. Some films come out and in time reach that status, but Lincoln is a masterpiece from start to finish. In the acting, obviously, this is Daniel Day Lewis’ film; he is the title character and he is enthralling. The direction is spectacular – from scenes on the battlefield to small moments between Lincoln and his youngest son, the message of each scene is well thought out and presented. The cinematography is breathtaking, from shots of a city on fire at night, to the feeling of sitting in congress in 1865, you believe what you see. I have to pay special respect to the hair and makeup department of this film though. When presenting such enduring historical figures it easy to say, “Well the real Lincoln or Thaddeus Stevens may not have been very attractive, but this is a movie and people want to see attractive people.” This team did not do that, rather they accentuated lines and imperfections on the characters’ faces as if to say, “Look, these were real men!” despite their historical significance. Lincoln even has a patchy beard and unruly cowlick ridden hair. To see these actors made up in such a way lends a feeling of reality and seriousness to the story, and to the proceedings which take place within.

I have trouble finding any fault with Lincoln, though I have heard a couple people say that Spielberg has a cast full of well known actors and he did not utilize them enough. To that I just have to say, If you were an actor in Hollywood and you heard Steven Spielberg was making a biopic of Abraham Lincoln, would you say no to even a small part? I think not. I think that these amazing actors came together to film this movie in big roles and small due to the fact that they knew it was going to be something special and worth being a part of, even if they weren’t playing Lincoln himself.

 


Laurel Deneen

 
Lover of movies, television, theater, comics and general nerdery, Laurel hails from Minneapolis Minnesota. She has a geeky husband who requires more than the average amount of attention, a dog who thinks she's a dragon and she secretly longs to be a penguin.