Lincoln – Film Review


I was lucky enough to see Lincoln two weeks before its release. The advantage of this being that I can review it before most people get a chance to see the film and therefore bring vital eyes to the site. As such I have waited until after the film has hit cinemas to put fingers to keys try to review this dramatic behemoth. So why have I done this? Am I secretly trying to sabotage my own website? Surprisingly, no. The truth is that I’m scared.

Lincoln has been nominated for a whopping 12 Oscars this year and has critical acclaim seeping out of its every pore and yet… I found it dull. I’m not trying to be controversial and say that the most praised film of the year is bad as Lincoln is clearly not a bad film. It is possible though for a fine leading performance, stunning photography, and a subject of historic importance to culminate in a two and a half hour masterpiece that literally sent me to sleep in the early afternoon.

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With such an extensive running time you might expect Lincoln to cover the length and breadth of Abe’s life but instead the film focuses on a four-month period in which the titular character campaigns to have the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution passed by the United States House of Representatives. The amendment in question would abolish slavery and hopefully end the civil war in the process. With what is essentially a period political drama on his hands Stephen Spielberg is robbed of any action set-pieces and so takes on an unusually subtle directorial style as he is faced with endless scenes of bearded men talking in rooms.

The men in question are lit beautifully, are garnished with the finest beards Hollywood can produce, and are played by a diverse cast of character actors but their exploits border on the mundane. Daniel Day-Lewis gives a typically authentic performance as the late US president but his Lincoln is a calm and considered man whose gentle voice and subtle mannerisms did not help me to maintain consciousness.

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Looking back at the film I find it hard to comprehend how Spielberg managed to stretch this story into such a long film. In the short period I dozed for I missed none of the plot as progress was slow and a little grating. Lincoln may well be beautifully shot and contain acting of the highest calibre but it long overstays its welcome and does not appear to have even heard of pacing. Bizarrely for a film this epic in length and with a focus on slavery we never see the misery of slavery itself or are shown the improvements that the amendment brings to the country.

All this negativity aside credit goes to Lee Pace, James Spader, and Tommy Lee Jones for stealing the show from Daniel Day-Lewis and commiserations to Joseph Gordon-Levitt for not having a lot to do.

There is every chance that Lincoln will win a good proportion of its Oscar nominations but frankly I don’t think it deserves to. There’s a good film hiding in Lincoln but a serious amount of editing is needed to get to the heart of the story. For a film with a foregone conclusion for an ending, it takes far too long to get to it.

Yes, three stars. I’m not brave enough to give it less.

When in Rome – Review

Even with all the adoration in the world for Kristen Bell, which we have and will always have thanks to Veronica Mars, When in Rome cannot survive the fact that it is a terrible film with no real laughs and no sense to its plot. Just look at the poster, it’s awful.

Bell’s character takes some coins out of a fountain and so some guys fall in love with her briefly hampering her burgeoning romance with an overly handsome Josh Duhamel. One of the biggest problem the film faces is with the sheer number of crazy men that have fallen in love with Bell and are therefore chasing after her. With so many characters (okay four) none really get a chance to do much.

When you have Danny DeVito and Will Arnett in your film you should really give them more screen time and better lines would help too. If you aren’t convinced that either are comedians worth your time just watch some Arrested Development or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia for some proof. Both were reduced to minor bit parts and Arnett forced to put on a “funny” accent. Ugh. As the remaining two love-struck fools Jon Heder and Dax Shepard made Arnett and DeVitto look even better, as both hammed it up far too much.

With all these things wrong with it When in Rome is surprisingly watchable, not necessarily good but certainly watchable, and that is all down to Kristen Bell. Bell takes what little she has to work with and throws herself into it with a delightful perky charm that belongs to someone who deserves a much better agent. Brief appearances from Lee Pace and Kristen Schaal also help keep the film from being a complete disaster.

When in Rome is bad. Kristen Bell is good. It’s a bit confusing.