Gods and Generals

A Film Review By Michael Haley

Rating:PG-13 for sustained battle sequences and violence. 
Starring: Robert Duvall, Stephan Lang, Jeff Daniels. 
Directed By:Robert Maxwell 

Final Grade: 

This review is going to be my shortest yet, because the time demands placed upon me lately seem to be increasing more and more each day, and being pulled in ten directions at once is starting to take a toll. Therefore, I apologize in advance if the review doesn’t really help you, but than again, with all my normal B.S. aside this might very well be my best one yet…

This film is a prequel to Gettysburg and part two of a planned three part Civil War trilogy by Robert Maxwell, although I bet his next will be a teen sex comedy (remember, you heard it here first). This time, the focus is on the legendary general Stonewall Jackson (played by Stephan Lang). The focus is also more on his military genius and the heroism of both sides of the combat (I admit that’s a view not taken often, but slavery seems to be a side issue to this film), and a good portion of the long runtime shows us the battles where human genius and stupidity were often played with the same hand, much to the determent of human life and liberty, those ideals that were being fought for in the first place.

The film is decent enough, but the sheer length mutes some of the story’s impact. During the first half of the film prior to the intermission there is an overabundance of praying. It’s not just a few prayers for good luck…Maxwell takes time to show us everyone in prayer, and quite frankly, it got really annoying. The battle sequences are fluid and powerful at moments, and if you’re a history buff, there’s a lot of battle strategy that will appeal. Of course, the performances are fine all around with a great cast including Robert Duvall, but in the end, I wondered how much of it was necessary. We are given almost four hours of the Civil War, three of which are constant prayer, but I felt as if sitting in a History lecture would provide as much education than anything the film had to offer. 

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