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"John Adams"
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great performances

Author: SnoopyStyle
11 October 2015

This seven part mini-series about John Adams (Paul Giamatti). In part one, he is a respected Boston lawyer. He arrives to help after the Boston Massacre. He is recruited to defend Captain Thomas Preston and his men despite his connections to revolutionaries. He wins the case and is approached by both revolutionaries and the crown for his support. He is leery of the revolutionaries' tactics but is forced by the King's dictates to join the cause. In part two, he's part of the Second Continental Congress as he pushes to confront the King and declare independence. The rest leads to his presidency and finally his retirement.

This mini-series is elevated by the performances of Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney. One can really feel their relationship and partnership. There are some historical inaccuracies. For entertainment purposes, it has little to no effects. However this is a presidential autobiography and that needs stricter attention to every detail. It is still able to portray a more balanced picture of revolutionary America. The production value is pretty good considering it's a TV show. It's not glossy which actually works in its favor. I'm sure it's not a very glossy time period. This is a well-produced terrifically-acted TV.

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Author: Chand Nair from Philadelphia
1 March 2015

Very gripping and great acting.

Some historical inaccuracies (pointed out to me by my son, but I wouldn't have known otherwise), I wondered why.

Visually striking and often thought provoking.

Certainly a must for students of American history.

Possibly not as good as the novel, but then thats a tall order.

Subtitles help when viewing for those unfamiliar with the details of names and history of those times.

A must watch for all Americans who will grow to admire the founding fathers and have a perspective on the birth of a nation.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:


Author: Armand 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

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

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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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Well written, well acted, well everything

Author: dukesr1000 from United States
6 April 2009

I read the book, and when I found out about the miniseries, I almost jumped out of my skin. I signed up for HBO just to see this every Sunday night. When I heard it would only be 7 episodes, I was disappointed because I knew there was no way they would get the whole book in, but that is almost always the case with a great book. They could have doubled the length and probably not get everything in. I have to admit that I nitpicked a little bit, when they show Nabby and John Quincy as older children instead as toddlers during the massacre, and Charles was not even born yet, and here he was 2 or 3? Sorry, can't help it. Even with the departures from the novel, which I am sure were done with the best interest of the story in mind, it was a fantastic job by the cast and crew. Just do yourself a favor, read the book. There was a lot left out.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Very well done with only one or two flaws

Author: martinmcdonough
5 January 2009

With an MBA in American History, I can honestly say that this mini-series was very well done and quite historically accurate. Minor details are changed for dramatic purposes (such as Abigail had encouraged John to start correspondence with Jefferson before her death and John did, in fact, start while she was still alive) but they are inconsequential.

The only element that I take exception to is the portrayal of John Quincy Adams by Ebon Moss-Bachrach. I don't know if it was by design or if it was Ebon's interpretation, but his performance made JQA come off as sniveling and whimpering, subservient to his father while in his presence, and always seemed to be on the cusp of breaking out in tears. John Quincy was anything but that. I don't know where this came from and it make the role unconvincing. Otherwise, Giamatti and the rest of the cast performed without equal. Exceptional film!

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

average presentation of magnificent biography of a man, his family and his country.

Author: bigrichry from United States
5 December 2008

David McCullough gave us a stupendous story of the life of this early American and of his times and his territory. Without being tedious he laid out the situation that produced John Adams, Abigail Quincy Adams, their children, John's colleagues and opponents and his unstinting efforts to found a new country for us while in serious danger from a mother country under the reign of a challenged king. He had to make a living for his family while spending years of his life first confronting his own desire to remain a loyal British subject, then helping the fledgling nation define itself, declare its freedom, establish laws and rules to ensure long survival with equity for all citizens, rule the country as president for one term, and define its role in world politics. Each task involved huge mental and moral strain and multitudinous stages.

Now come the movie makers with their rules of thumb to assure a significant audience while limiting costs to create profit for the studio. Then a director has to cut a long story into a few short ones and fit current actors into the personae of old legends. Usually a good book becomes a mediocre film. Sometimes a good film is possible.

Here the life episodes have become somewhat disjointed. Then the director sometimes seems to fall back on stereotypes and clichés to make sensitive tale clumsy enough for general consumption. The casting department must have been required to use untalented performers at times to get such a poor representation of George Washington. Seldom have I seen such a shoddy attempt to fill a major role. Many lesser roles seem to be poster caricatures of important historical figures.

Abigail was fairly well presented as far as things went, but her classic heritage and great personhood was still underdone. Nabby was darling. JQ was rather lacking and haphazard.

The depth of Charles Adam's efforts to cause mischief was not adequately drawn and his almost single-handedly pushing the colony into full revolt didn't get shown.

The film seems to take for granted the eventual outcome which was much more in doubt in real time.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Restores your faith in quality American television!

Author: ( from United States
10 October 2008

I started watching John Adams when I bought my sister the DVD as a present. It is simply one of the most remarkable pieces of television history. Paul Giamati becomes John Adams while Laura Linney becomes his devoted, loving wife Abigail Adams. As a couple, they are well-suited to each other. They respect and have a mutual love for each other. They cannot live apart for so long so John sends for Abigail to join him in Paris and London. Tom Wilkinson OBE and David Morse masterfully become Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. Too bad, the Emmys couldn't have a tie between these two actors because they are equally impressive as the brilliant but decadent Franklin and the complicated Washington. If there will ever be a series based on Franklin and Washington, please cast Wilkinson and Morse in those roles. Morse is completely unrecognizable as Washington. The series is first rate and deserves the multitude of Emmy nominations. Sadly the director didn't win for Best Director in a Mini-Series and Movie because the director's vision helps recreate Revolutionary and early American times in history.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

An Impressive Show

Author: lovesrogue36 from United States
20 September 2008

I wholeheartedly agree - I have yet to finish the series and am currently only up through Part IV but am most impressed. I was a bit leery at first as Hollywood and the media so often try to skew the events of our country, but it shows both sides with such dignity and unbiased opinion that it is an impressive show of honesty in what is usually so dishonest an industry. The acting is superb as is the writing. This most recent part I have seen was quite funny in many places. Of course, every great masterpiece has its flaws and really the only thing I can find wrong with this one is the undocumented passage of time. At the beginning of each episode it states the place and the year but it does not inform us throughout each hour-long segment how many years are passing. This minor issue does not detract in the least from the magnificence of this endeavor however and I assure you it is not one to be missed!

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