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Rated PG-13 for language, adult situations and some scenes of violence
posted Nov 23, 2012 - 2:33:08pm
Director Steven Spielberg has a tendency to tell enormous, sweeping stories in microcosmic manners. Whether it’s the history of World War I as seen, essentially, through the perspective of a horse or near-worldwide destruction in War of the Worlds ending in a single family being reunited, Spielberg’s favorite stories distill grand events down to the personal level.
Lincoln, as much as a biopic about one of the greatest American presidents can feasibly do, follows this trend, but it does so in a frustrating manner that makes the film seem much smaller than it should be. There’s nothing new in Lincoln, nothing – aside from Daniel Day-Lewis’s charming, grandfatherly portrayal of the president – that sets it apart.
The film focuses mainly on the accomplishment every fourth-grade kid knows about Honest Abe: abolishing slavery through the 13th Amendment. The story then shifts its focus to the end of the Civil War, almost an afterthought here. Lincoln is, at the onset of the movie, already well-loved, and he is portrayed in the same heroic light grade-school history books favor. There are no new concepts to explore here, nothing that will be unfamiliar to the audience.
Popcorn represents how fun a film is to watch—how funny it is, how exciting the special effects are, and how enjoyable the story is on repeated viewings. The perfect popcorn movie would be one that never got stale regardless of how many times you’ve seen it.
It’s not Spielberg’s style, but if the film had a little nonlinearity in its progression, the drama might have had more impact.
This sort of pacing has almost turned into a director trademark for Spielberg, at least in his serious movies. He may be the best in the business at creating films of immense scope and personal consequence, but as in Munich and Schindler’s List, there’s a point well before the credits roll at which the movie is, or maybe should be, finished. The finales of the other two great films deal with the personal struggles and inner demons of the heroes. Abe Lincoln lacks that certain gravitas as a character, and since the scope doesn’t exist beyond Lincoln himself – we see very few injured soldiers and only one brief battle sequence to relay the horrors of war, very few black characters to show the reprehensible nature of slavery – there almost is not enough drama to sustain this film for its duration.
Still, Spielberg is a master of his craft, and he assembles a terrific cast and crew to create a fine film. What it lacks in dramatic pacing and historic resonance, it makes up for elsewhere, and with either a little more or a little less focus, Lincoln could have been a worthy best picture contender.
Stars & Popcorn grade: 4 stars, 2 1/2 popcorn.
— Hunter serves as editor-in-chief for movie-review website Stars and Popcorn. To learn more about Stars and Popcorn, visit www.starsandpopcorn.com. Send e-mail to Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sponsored by Liebe Entertainment Group, Marketplace 8. Click here to see showtimes for Lincoln
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