‘Lincoln’ Review: Spielberg’s Latest Will Get You Thinking History

Now if you are endeared to Spielberg’s vicious dinosaurs and a creepy little alien with a glowing finger – you might want to brace yourself because his latest Lincoln is a penny of a different color.

Written by decorated playwright Tony Kushner, the film mimics the pacing and dialogue-heavy attributes of a well-produced stage play. The plot follows Lincoln’s efforts to pass the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery, which he and his cabinet accomplished both by being overtly righteous and pulling off some typical sketchy political shenanigans. The first act gets off to a slow start with a winded exposition on the nuts-and-bolts of how a bill becomes a law, excessive commentary about the dire state of the Civil War, and John Williams’s epic score which at times feels too big for its own good.

But Lincoln has a few ringers – the biggest being the insanely talented Daniel Day-Lewis. I would watch this guy read the menu at Panda Express and he doesn’t disappoint with this latest performance. His soft-spoken yet commanding-when-it-has-to-be voice is exactly how I envisioned Lincoln would speak. He perfectly personifies the familiar icon with the stubby beard, tall stature, and restrained yet articulate lexicon of a successful lawyer. Spielberg seriously just leaves the camera on him several times and never cuts during robust and elaborate monologues. His unique choices and confident delivery encapsulates an actor at the top of his game.

As impressive as Day-Lewis is, the dynamic and sprawling supporting cast is just as good. Tommy Lee Jones, channeling his Harvard roommate Al Gore, steals a handful of scenes, playing the passionate anti-slavery Pennsylvania representative Thaddeus Stevens. There is a raft of other recognizable actors who add high-quality credibility to the piece, from Sally Fields, John Hawkes, Tim Blake Nelson, James Spader, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays the eldest son Robert, a character kind of lost in the chaos and not really impactful with the trajectory of the story.

The bulk of the action and fun unfolds on the House floor and I have to admit the over-the-top manner in which government officials would bicker at each other back in the day is a tad too much Saturday Night Live for me. It reminds me of a bunch of drunk dudes dressed poorly as Ben Franklin and the cheekiness doesn’t mesh with the low-key tone and feel of the film.

The best moments of the movie are when “Honest Abe” spews funny stories and profound metaphors to his surrounding fans. His persona is satisfying, free of flagrant sentimentality, and often very witty. Definitely more human and relatable than a chunk of carved rock on Mount Rushmore. For all its meticulous period detailing, Lincoln will definitely secure a Best Picture nominee, but I think it’s missing that special “wow” factor that will propel it to win and as outstanding as Day-Lewis is I don’t think he will be able to beat Joaquin Phoenix in The Master.

The movie’s best shot at Oscar gold is Tommy Lee Jones. He has the film’s flashiest scenes and biggest laughs, and his crafty entanglements with Lee Pace on the House floor are the closest the film gets to thrilling.

Overall, due to its historic scope and odd relevance to our current times politically, I’d say it’s a must-see and I’d give it four score and seven stars. That or a B+.

Grade: B+

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11 years ago

——-Yet another Lincoln retread.
Meanwhile, franchise slum Hollywood
continues to deliver its 4th decade of
predictive programming for EUGENICS
——while ‘overlooking’ 6 decades of
anniversaries for the RED China, mind control,
Globalism and EXTERMINATION —–‘unfriendly’

——————-KOREAN WAR———————.

Spielberg delivers another self-basting PC
moral alibis —for himself. . .