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I've been looking forward to a new Daniel Day-Lewis performance since 2007's There Will Be Blood. The Oscar-winner does not disappoint, and from the moment I saw him in trailers as Honest Abe in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, it was clear through his unmistakable resemblance that there was no one who would put in this kind of dedication -- tales are legion of how Lewis doesn't break character throughout the entire course of filming, which I imagine allows him to capture the soul of his characters and deliver an impeccable and classic performance every time.
So it’s mostly his brilliant lead performance that makes Lincoln worth seeing. My previous reading, history classes and consumed entertainment have left me thinking of Abraham Lincoln as a timid man in pursuit of compromise forced to make hard decisions, but Day-Lewis’s performance brings to life the man’s many other remarkable traits - his vision and sometimes indirect procedures to end the civil war, his passion for storytelling to help breathe the knowledge and conviction behind his beliefs, the beautiful friendship and affection he had with his youngest son and the difficult relationship he had with his defiant oldest son. Already in a nation struggling with division and possible divorce, Lincoln handled a tremendous amount of pressure and heartache on his shoulders, not only because of the Civil War, but because of a family death. Add to that an emotionally unstable wife (Sally Field), and the tortured politico has to internalize his pain, which Day-Lewis captures masterfully.
But as Day-Lewis sets himself up for his third Oscar, I was far less engaged with the movie as a whole and the rest of the familiar cast, who deliver their lines with a casualness that’s offputting. The only cast member who stood out to me besides Lewis was newcomer Lee Pace (soon to be seen in the upcoming Hobbit trilogy), who makes a mark as New York City’s hateful mayor, delivering powerful and aggressive speeches that will make you wonder why you've never seen this guy before and where has he been since Leonardo DiCaprio got too old to do these roles.
Meanwhile, the plot plods, the costumes and settings feel exhausted, and the soundtrack is non-exhilarating even during what should be moments of uplift. The movie is so serious (self-serious?) that it’s almost a drag. That said, Daniel Day-Lewis is amazing as usual, and he single-handedly makes it a good movie. (***) -- Lindsay Doyle
The saying "last but not least" rings very true for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 2. In fact, Twi-hards (like us!) should prepare for the best film of the five-part series. Candidly: we had pretty low expectations for this movie because the past four films (though they progressively got better as they gained more budget), were cheesy, poorly-cast and lacked the emotion and intensity the books portrayed. But, we were genuinely blown away by the finale’s production and were excited by the twists and turns screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg and director Bill Condon incorporated into the film.
It’s tough to create an effective movie based on a spectacularly successful book -- especially if the book emotionally grips readers as intensely as the Twilight series does. The movie has to either depict the book accurately or stray away from the book in an unanticipated, positive way in order for us to love it. This film did the latter. Without giving anything away, the filmmakers incorporated a twist in the film that will shock book-lovers. We literally gasped and rasped onto our chairs in excitement, not just by the twist, but by the unbelievable special effects, choreography and -- unexpectedly -- the acting.
We want to tout this a bit, because everything about the movie just seemed better than its predecessors. 1. Kristen Stewart redeemed herself in this film by performing effortlessly as a vampire after five years of playing Bella awkwardly. 2. The portrayal of the vampires' special powers was executed in a much more convincing way than ever before 3. The fighting scenes were choreographed so excellently that we were never able to anticipate the next move, creating a ton of shock and excitement.
As Twilight fans, we give this last adaptation two big thumbs up, and tell every fan to be prepared to scream a little bit, and maybe even cry. (****) -- Ashley Dutcher & Tricia Leone