Lincoln, the Steven Spielberg helmed film chronicling the last four months of our sixteenth president’s life is in theatres now, and it’s getting quite the praise. In a sea of horror flicks and over the top action films, a biography of the best president to sport a chinstrap might seem out of place, but those looking for a more serious film will finally have something to watch. So how does it do? Does it do the president justice, or should the film be emancipated?
Based on the biography “Team Of Rivals: The Political Genius Of Abraham Lincoln”, this film directed by Spielberg retells the last four months of Lincoln’s life. With the pressure of the Civil War, and the constant squabbling of his own cabinet over his decision to emancipate the slaves, he’s got a pretty full plate. I’ve always found Lincoln to be a pretty interesting president, and since I had actually read the book this was based on, I was pretty excited for it. If anyone could put the passion that Lincoln had for the country on screen, it would have been Spielberg. Couple that with Daniel Day Lewis’s intensity, and you should have a no brainer hit for the “President Biography” crowd.
Which, it does what it sets out to do. It really shows a man that’s torn between doing whats right, and what others think he should do. Lewis really brings his best to the table, and his Lincoln is the best portrayal of the character to date. The rest of the cast has some nice surprises, such as Tommy Lee Jones and Joseph Gordon Levitt, but for the majority of the rest of the cast it seems like they just looked for the most stern looking older gentlemen they could find, and threw them in as random historical roles. Luckily, the ones with the most screen time are the ones that actually act well, instead of the cardboard stiff characterization of the majority of the minor cast.
Spielberg really has an eye for these kind of flicks. The production value is top notch, and it really feels like a period piece. The environment just looks and feels real, not just a set dressed to look like the time. He really gets great performances out of the main cast, especially Daniel Day Lewis. He milks every bit of emotion from Lewis, and it really makes what could have been a mediocre movie top notch. Then again, it’s Spielberg, I wouldn’t expect anything less.
The one downside is the run time. It’s long. Two and a half hours long. It drags a lot and if it’s not something you’re insanely interested in, you’ll be fighting to keep yourself awake. Out of the group of four I went with, only two made it all the way through without nodding off. Even at some of the slower parts I had a hard time staying awake, and I was the most excited to see the flick.
All in all, if you’re interested in history, you’ll dig it. If you’re even slightly interested in seeing a vampire-less account of Lincoln’s life, this is the flick to watch. If you’re watching something to visually stimulate yourself, its not bad. If you’re looking for something that will keep you on the edge of your seat, move on. It’s a great film, but it is long and sometimes boring.
4 out of 5, if you can stay awake.