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Is the below comment for real? As an Oregonian, I have no real personal stakes, but we all know the South were pro-slavery traitors, right? This 1999 Civil War film is a curiosity. It's fitfully interesting and takes on a little filmed topic, but it is, ultimately, uneven and flawed. Southern irregulars (Bushwackers) fight Union troops and Kansas Jayhakwers on the Missouri/Kansas border. The film doesn't offer much historical context, nor does it seem to find it problematic that its heroes are all fighting for the South. There is one black character (the always great Jeffrey Wright) and slavery is rarely mentioned. It reminded me of the dreadful "Cold Mountain" in this aspect. One of the main issues I had with film, aside from that, is the central casting: Tobey Maguire, Skeet Ulrich (the poor man's Johnny Depp), Johathan Ryhs Meyers, and Simon "The Mentalist" Baker are all Southern rebels and none of them is convincing. Singer Jewel gives a better performance. There are some good visuals and well-staged fight scenes, especially the ransacking of Lawrence, but the film's intentions and tone are muddled. Ang Lee, who did "The Ice Storm" and "Life of Pi," directs. Look for a young Mark Ruffalo as a Union soldier. Based on a book.
Kickass Southern warriors taking out filthy primitive vulgar damnyankees! Yes. Toby McGuire and the rest of the cast are just fine.
I admit that I picked up this film solely because Jewel was in it then I found out that Ang Lee did this film, Tobey Maguire was in it as well as Mark Ruffalo (all connected to Marvel films). The film was okay, very violent and focussed almost exclusively on the battles and the intrigue - very little in lightness, romance and Jewel's role appears rather late in the film. She's good as a widower though arguably some of the scenes felt "gratuitous" as if they were there largely to exploit her beauty. Jewel's and Tobey's characters are not particularly likable given that they seem to be racist but they become more likable by the end of the film.
Timely (in light of Iraq, Syria), absorbing subject, beautiful location photography, but marred by sub-par acting. This material calls out for guts and glory, anguish and release, but a young, inexperienced (in both senses) cast simply can't put it over. A big part of that is their delivery of the often-poetic period southern speech: either too histrionic or too flat, it seldom delves beneath the surface to reveal the character. P.S. Second audio commentary with the director of photography, sound designer and production designer is interesting for attention to historic detail in costumes, props, lighting, and locations, notably the town that stands in for Lawrence, Kansas.
The great director Ang Lee (from Taiwan, then Illinois) made this tale of a band of ruffians whose purpose was to kill as many Union soldiers and Union supporters that they could. It seems that some of these guys were just at the wrong time and wrong place because they did not always feel passionate about the cause they were fighting for. The most interesting character is a former black slave who feels allegiance to a quasi-racist Southerner who gave him his freedom, yet kept him as someone who made him coffee and protected him with his sharp-shooting. The weakness of the movie may be that the characters are not sure why they are doing what they are doing and if they don’t care, why should the audience?
This film was a box office failure and snuffed by many film critics when it first came out. But I find it to be a well-acted and convincing story with the American civil war as the back drop. Plenty of killings and atrocities to depict one of the darkest periods in American. It is a history lesson by director Ang Lee. Well worth my time to sit through it.
I agree with other commentary in that it was: 1.) beautifully filmed -- very scenic; and 2.) rather boring. Overlong, with characters that weren't very engaging (alright, Tobey Maguire/Jake Roedel and Jeffrey Wright/Daniel Holt were marginally interesting). Jewel's tag-along character was awkward, and her smarmy relationship with Maguire was unconvincing. The ending was anticlimactic, leaving me with an "Ummm... okay... That's it?" Certainly not what I was expecting from such a celebrated director as Ang Lee.
A movie which will disappoint those who seek action and unproblematic oppositions between protagonists and antagonists. However, as a beautifully-filmed portrayal of the deep divisions caused by civil war and what it would be like first to be caught up in the murder and violence, and then be a part of it, it's an absorbing piece. And it helps one understand how an ex-slave could fight (as some did) for the Confederacy.
Kind of a disappointment considering the film has a strong cast. Slow moving during much of the movie.
The subject matter was interesting but there was not enough action/explantion of the actual fighting taking place between the Bushwackers,
Jayhawkers and the Union Army. The title makes no sense. All sides thought they were in the right. Apparently the killing and pillaging on all sides is considered the Devil's work. On a positive note, the horsemanship and beauty of the scenery makes the film worth watching.
Great cast (Tobey Maguire, Skeet Ulrich, Jewel, Simon Baker of THe Mentalist....)
Directed by Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Sense and Sensibility, Brokeback Mountain)
An aspect of the American Civil War that I knew nothing about - interesting for just that reason alone
A bit slow moving in the director's cut but worth a viewing
Exceptional character study, examining an overlooked aspect of the American Civil War, namely the guerilla war in Missouri and Kansas. The film has fine performances, particularly from Maguire, Wright, and Jewel.