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"John Adams"
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Reviews & Ratings for
"John Adams" More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Very good but there is something about the look

7/10
Author: dmaboyer from Central PA
10 January 2009

I find it an excellent series as far as the story goes. I enjoy the glimpses in to history that this series gives. My favorite part is watching and listening to David Morse as George Washington. I think he is incredible. I wish that they would do a series on Washington with David Morse in the lead. I cannot add much to what the other people have said about the series but I want to add two observations.

First, I think that, in many places, they give a little more credit to Adams than he deserves. I know that he is regarded as the leader in the push for independence but I think this series even exaggerates that beyond the actual fact. Also, I am concerned about his leadership when he was president. I think that they make it much more powerful and important than it really was considering how history has looked at his presidency.

My second and hardest thing to get over in this series is the 'look'. I am reading a book called Max Quick: The Two Travelers. In this a couple of boys are transported in time back to 1912. One of the boys comments that the look of people in 1912 is different. He comments that if a few people from 1912 were transported to our time and mixed in with people from our time he could tell which ones were from 1912. This is the problem I have had with the John Adams Series from the beginning. There is something about the look of the people that just does not ring true. I cannot put my finger on it. I am not sure if it is the makeup or the dress or the language or the mannerisms but something is just not right. I think Paul Giamatti is the hardest to get get used to. I am not putting down his acting or his performance, it is just that there is something about his look that just does not sit right with me. The same seems to apply to most of the characters. They just do not seem like they live in the 18th century. As I mentioned above the only one that seems to pull it off is David Morse.

This is the only reason I am giving it 7 stars instead of something much higher. Otherwise it is a very good series. I recommend it to any fan early American history.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Nearly spoiled by the camera-work

8/10
Author: wilsr from Australia
31 December 2012

I agonised about what star rating to give "John Adams".

I cannot comment on the historic authenticity. However, the sets, sound, makeup, CGI, storyline and dialogue are outstanding. All the actors are excellent and it's invidious to single any one out. But Giamatti and Linney stand out with incredible, intimate and emotional performances.

So why the "agonising"? Quite simply, although the cinematography and lighting are technically perfect, someone somewhere - presumably the director in consultation with the producers - thought that a hand-held camera and the odd tilted horizon would add something to the story.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

There are two valid excuses for a steadycam shot: if it's physically impossible to shoot it with a crane, and to give the impression of a grabbed shot in, say, a war zone.

Unfortunately, too many otherwise first class directors have followed a craze that emerged a few years back, and appear to think that unsteady shots add to the experience. They don't: all they do is make you think about the mechanics of the filming and look for the exit. And tilting the camera for no good reason is just plain effete.

So: eight out of ten. A shame, because without the trendy camera-work I would give John Adams ten.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Read the Book

10/10
Author: pl73 from Arlington, Virginia
7 November 2008

Interesting adaptation of McCullough's excellent book. You need to read the book to fill in the gaps the miniseries does not have time to cover. For instance Adams did not spend his entire time in Washington City sitting in a dark corner of the newly built White House. He visited George Washington at Mount Vernon, and attended Congress at the new Capitol building.

Gripping dramatic interpretation, great computer effects, lavish wardrobe.

Excellent location shooting.

Read the book.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Excellent slice of American history with remarkable performances

10/10
Author: Indyrod from United States
20 October 2008

This many awards winning 7-part HBO series is one of the best ever mini-series concerning American history specifically the American Revolution era. I started watching this monumental achievement Saturday early evening, and except for the very last episode, pretty much finished it up including the documentaries. The last episode is about Adams life after his term as the second President of the United States. This takes the viewer all the way through the Continental Congress, the Declaration of Independence, the war with Britain, the formation of the American government, and the huge role of John Adams in all of that, and an amazing performance by Paul Giamatti as Adams. Also, Laura Linney as Abigail Adams is brilliant. One of the most stunning character performances is David Morse as George Washington. It knocked me out of my chair when I saw him on screen, because he looks almost identical to Washington. The character casting is absolutely sensational, with superb performances with all the legendary characters involved in those events. I love American history, and this brought to light many things I did not even know happened, and it is supposed to be as accurate as any movie ever on the subject. One of the most bizarre scenes, is John Adams meeting the creepy and probably crazy King George. It seems to me, except for a very few and not including the Queens that ruled Great Britain, that most of the Kings were creepy and mentally ill, to say it in a nice as I can way. Anyway, the long trip to Europe John Adams made to secure alliances, and a nice loan from Holland, and his keeping the US out of a War with France, when they turned from huge friends of ours in defeating the Brits in the Revolutionary war, to aggressors is brilliantly depicted. This is great stuff, and worthy of the many awards it won, and I hope more movies or mini-series about early America can be made with the quality as this one.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Mesmerizing

10/10
Author: dvd_tony from United States
15 October 2008

This series was a great reflection of the harsh times that were faced during this era. Sure John Adams was a flawed man but he was a strong, kind hearted man who made a major impact on this country. His ego was definitely at fault for his pompous attitude and even dislike by others, but he meant well and served his country to the fullest. I am completely mesmerized by the depth this mini series portrayed. His family life, his beliefs, and his efforts all contributed to the foundation that America was built on. I felt very much like I was right there with him during his times of turmoil and even ridicule. He was a good man and had a profound life. I am very happy this series was published, it has helped me to see things that history books couldn't quite explain and has left me wanting more.

Tony

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Great miniseries. Very historically accurate.

10/10
Author: ccarlson1 from United States
5 April 2008

The people who made this miniseries did their history homework. David Morse portrays George Washington so well and looks just like the real George Washington just stepped off the one dollar bill and into reality. Paul Giamatti is one of the best acclaimed actors in the business. I recommend this miniseries to ALL schools so our children can learn something about the birth of our nation. The subtleties of the everyday items during that time period are portrayed near perfectly. King Louis is excellently portrayed as well as King George. You can almost feel yourself in this time period with the way the costuming is done and the mannerisms. GREAT MINISERIES.

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Giamatti is God

10/10
Author: bobjohnson994 from United States
11 June 2008

OK, not specifically, but near enough. I have thought him an under-appreciated actor for year and years now, the equal of Anthony Hopkins or Al Pacino.

I also like David Morse, such a likable chap, if you have seen him in other roles like in The Green Mile.

I absolutely felt chills in the first two eps - Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, and Washington, meeting in the garden. The quiet scenes in the continental congress.

As an Objectivist, I am an ardent believer in the right to life, liberty and property. I hope the europeans, who harbor a mistrust of my country, can watch this and understand the magnificence of our founding, which can only be tarnished by unwise men, but not defeated.

America is the oldest functioning democracy in the world. The State encroaches here, as it has already swallowed Europe. Pray that we can turn the tide back to individual rights, end our stumbling towards socialism and brutality, before revolution becomes necessary again.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

gem

Author: Vincentiu from Romania
2 April 2013

what is its virtue ? accuracy ? brilliant performance of actors ? precise details ? charm of an American story about birth of a nation ? not ! only its spirit. because this film has rare and great chance to be not exactly a page of history but a parable or a lesson about axis of existence. a pledge for measure and for truth as base of a great construction. about sacrifice and taste of victory. Paul Giamatti does the role of his life. and this success is result of a delicate hard work because his John Adams is not only credible but his clothes becomes skin of interpreter. a profound admirable movie. and new demonstration of HBO science to give refined gems to his public.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Gripping - I watched it all in like two, maybe three sittings

9/10
Author: zetes from Saint Paul, MN
1 August 2010

Excellent HBO mini-series based on the David McCullough biography of the second U.S. president. It begins with Adams witnessing the Boston Massacre in 1773 (he was the defense attorney for the British soldiers - something I'm surprised that I didn't know) and ends with his death on the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the country (on the same day as his best friend/worst enemy, Thomas Jefferson). It's a beautifully mounted series. On a technical level, it's just gorgeous, with great detail to the sets and costumes. The writing is great, giving us a well-paced story, nicely divided into seven parts, covering long segments of Adams' life. It rarely feels like they're just trying to cram information into the episodes. The acting is generally fantastic. Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney are John and Abigail Adams. Stephen Dillane gives quite a unique take on Jefferson. Tom Wilkinson is Ben Franklin, David Morse is George Washington, Danny Huston is Sam Adams, Rufus Sewell is Alexander Hamilton and Sarah Polley John's daughter Nabby. I do think Giamatti can be a little too nebbishy, as he has a hard time escaping his nature, but I mostly think it works for the character. I wonder if Adams comes off that way in McCullough's book, or if this is just something that comes out of Giamatti. All of the famous historical characters are well drawn and come off far differently than one might imagine. Alexander Hamilton, for example, comes off almost as a villain with a somewhat poisoning effect on George Washington (Adams and Jefferson apparently really didn't like him in real life, and their evil eye certainly comes through in the POV of the series). By the end of the series, I felt like I knew a lot more about the time period than I had since I was in history class back in high school (maybe more), and I was extremely entertained all the way through. The Blu Ray edition (and perhaps the DVD, though I don't think so) has a feature that delves further into the story with pop-up facts. I watched the series with this feature playing from near the end of the second episode (I had wanted to see if it had any more information on Thomas Jefferson's view of slavery).

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Simply magnificent

10/10
Author: David Bogosian from Los Angeles, Calif.
30 September 2009

This 7-part miniseries chronicling the career of founding father John Adams is equal parts history lesson and tense personal drama. It succeeds brilliantly on both levels.

As an introduction to the history of the era, it immerses the viewer in the sights, sounds, smells of life at that time. I can't think of any to equal it in this regard; the production is simply top notch in every detail. Often (about once per episode), this leads to scenes that are disturbing and difficult to watch, particularly when dealing with the medical art of the day. It is also a fascinating depiction of all the major characters of our founding: Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, all are portrayed with remarkable facial verisimilitude, and it's a real treat to watch all these personalities interact with all their quirks and foibles. One might say it's like a trip to Colonial Williamsburg, except the people come to life and you can watch history being made. Not to mention, the title visuals and soundtrack are artistically beautiful in their own right.

As a personal drama, the story of Adams' life and that of his family is woven with all the components of tragedy and triumph. The many issues with his 4 children are all interesting to watch unfold, but the most fascinating is the relationship with his wife Abigail. One can easily see how he came to rely so heavily on her for strength, balance, and wisdom.

The acting in every instance is excellent; besides the stellar performances by the two Adamses, Washington and Franklin's portrayals are very ably done. Jefferson plays a large role, and he perhaps is a bit more wooden than one might have imagined. But over and over, I found myself in awe of how the acting carried the story. Many scenes are virtually devoid of dialogue or action, yet one is gripped by what is being portrayed. The viewer certainly comes away sensing the depths of sorrow or betrayal that Adams had to endure. By the end, you are so connected to these two individuals that their death is felt as a true loss.

The series leads you to ponder how the founding of our country is indebted to the huge sacrifices made by him and his contemporaries, and of course their wives and families. It is very poignant to see how this truly great man, who reached the pinnacle of power, ultimately has to endure so much public ridicule and personal tragedy.

If there is one minor gripe, it is the "artsy" use of diagonal camera angles and constant hand-held movement by the camera. But after a while one learns to ignore it, and even this flaw is not enough to detract from a perfect 10/10 score.

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