Gods and Generals Reviews
Bad actors or normally competent ones (Jeff Daniels, Stephen Lang) serve up stilted deliveries of stilted dialogue in a near-flashback to the filmstrips we used to see in school.
One doesn't come away from it with any sense of what the victory cost in human terms or what it's like to face a rank of men shooting at you, or to jam a bayonet into somebody's guts or have one jammed into your guts.
A viewing of this epic is likely to leave all but the geekiest Civil War buffs feeling as itchy and as restless as if they themselves were wearing woolen underwear -- soggy, unwashed, vintage 1860s, government-issue woolen underwear.
The kind of movie beloved by people who never go to the movies, because they are primarily interested in something else -- the Civil War, for example -- and think historical accuracy is a virtue instead of an attribute.
Maxwell continues his textbook emphasis on military maneuvers, but despite literally thousands of Civil War reenactors recruited for the film, the wide-screen canvas fails to map the tactics or evoke the terror of battle.
American history transformed into a museum movie, consistently making the flawed human characters at the heart of the Civil War into flawless figures Olympian in their statuesque remoteness.
It is so lacking in flesh-and-blood characters, so unclear in its depiction of battles like Bull Run, and so nauseating in its gruesome sentimentality that it is all but unwatchable.
Maxwell, a TV movie director with no ear for dialogue that isn't over the top and no eye for the sort of visual poetry these stories demand, is plainly not up to the job.
It was made strictly by and for Civil War buffs who insist that every pious speech and every skirmish is worthy of filming, even if the end result suffers from serious battle fatigue.