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

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Reaching the Highest Common Denominator

9/10
Author: (jotheodorou@Yahoo.com) from NYC, NY
7 July 2008

Excellent....the sets, production, costumes, direction, writing ... but most importantly, the actors...Paul (Adams) and Laura (Abagail) shine, as does the rest of the cast. You feel like you are watching American Independence, the events leading up to such a momentous occurrence, and our country's infancy actually happen before your eyes. Thank you HBO, and thank you David McCullough for bringing history to life, both as narrative and film. Every detail contributes to an intellectual and entertaining whole.

HBO ... you do some outstanding work, I thank you for keeping the American public on their toes and such quality programming. A remarkable achievement, I wish you many many awards, and hope you will continue to make more quality historical films. You show not only good taste, but your executives have made some bold decisions, at a time when TV could use both!

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Fantastic History Lesson

10/10
Author: Andreapworth from United States
2 July 2008

I've long been a fan of John Adams and the close "rivalry" between him and Jefferson.

And I can only say 'ditto' to all the other comments made here on this page. This is a truly wonderful series and really makes you believe that you are watching things the way they happened.

I've long been a fan of the movie "1776". That is also painless history and entirely enjoyable. The songs in that are also good. My favorite line is Adams singing "but you, Lord, gave us Congress. Dear God, sir, was that fair?" But I digress from the HBO series. It is truly historically accurate. You get a sense of the difficulties of living at the time and, as well, the momentous nature of the continental congress. Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney are simply wonderful, as are David Morse and many, many others.

Watch it with your children! Like the movie "1776", it's a painless history lesson, although the HBO series is far more detailed and accurate.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

well done kiddies!

Author: malleymarge from Oskosh WI
31 May 2008

This is a real breath of fresh air from the long list of mediocre programs offered by TV networks. That I'm so over at this point. HBO needs to do more of things like John Adams. What was amazing to me was that given the current political climate with hard fought primary elections, it came as a complete surprise to me to watch what politics was like in 1776, and all the same snakes that still were around back then still in a sense exist today.

Paul Giamatti was simply superb in the role of John Adams. He articulated Adams's role of statesman, politician, husband, father and mentor. Adam's relationship with his wife, Abigail with whom he shared everything was so intriguing. Laura Linney wasn't exactly a raving beauty but I think they down played her looks for this one.I have always loved her and her performance in this only confirms it for me.Question where can I order this whole set as a box set?Im having the hardest time finding it.Im giving this a 10. absolutely loved it.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Upon responses, and viewing "John Adams"

10/10
Author: anwdavis from United States
29 April 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It isn't the way it was, but it never will be again.

The costumes are great for what the budget could afford. I commend the folks who worked with props and costuming for their resourceful skills, in making an American Revolution piece come as much alive as it possibly could for the 21st century.

The acting is terrific! Paul Giammatti is equally picked for his looks and ability. If one must argue against sentimentality and drama, I would highly recommend that they stay away from any theater experience. For Abigail Adams, I am highly sympathetic. The Adams' relationship is built on the principles of communication, just as anyone's family would have been at the time and even now, and considering the time period, it isn't as if she could pick up a phone and dial 1-800-Collect to reach John in France. The point is to single out the Adams' family and show what they struggled through. No one forgets that there were soldiers dying, and let us not forget the horrific tragedies of the Boston Massacre, which are in my opinion more important than the Boston Tea party - even though it may be comedic, beyond that, it serves no purpose in showing what John Adams' principles were built upon, which is the purpose of the first and beginning of the second installments to the series.

All colonials had the necessary skills to be educated, but income is a totally different factor. Not to mention it was hard to have education if you did not have some sort of status with the monarchy. Even after the states are created, and Harvard is formed, one will recall (in order to attend), you had to have some sort of Puritan upbringing, and you were probably going to be a priest for the rest of your life, and most importantly you had a substantial income. Most colonists knew how to read, and had read the complete works of Shakespeare, and the Bible. It took a lot of time for an education system to be properly developed. This does not disregard the fact that each of the representatives of the colonies was in fact fighting for the rights of their people, and what was best for them. Had it not been for the Congress, military would not have formed, there wouldn't be a declaration, and the anarchists in the eyes of Britain would have died just like many anarchists before and after them.

Maybe the History channel will have something on John Adams soon for those that are looking for a more long and drawn out approach of didactics and text book information that will be commercially infested. It will not please History Professors at the college level any more than the mini-series did.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Great nations from shaky beginnings come...

10/10
Author: mking5303 from Toronto
28 April 2008

John Adams was absolutely amazing. I never enjoyed history in school and dislike war movies. But my 30 yr old son sucked me into this series and like a good book, I couldn't put it down! What an eye opener humanizing our founding fathers. And the infighting was fascinating. I was actually pleasantly surprised that the war was so peripheral to the plot. I wish our present leaders would consider war as a last alternative and remember that there are people dying in these conflicts.

And the integrity of Adams and the actor who played him! Paul Giamatti had better get awards for this. You can tell he put his whole soul into the character. Linney, Polley, Moss-Bacharach, Sewell, and Dillane also with standout performances.

Thank you to all parties. This one will stay with me for a long time.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Very sensationalist and inaccurate.

5/10
Author: Jørgen Sivesind from Strømmen, Norway
25 October 2009

I'm so glad I read the book before watching this TV-series, or I would have ended up with a completely incorrect and negative view of the 2nd president, John Adams.

While the book makes no effort to disguise that Mr. Adams was struggling with his temper, the TV-series focuses so much on this problem that entire episodes are nothing but mockery of this man, leaving him without the respect that he is due, and certainly gets in the book.

Also, the TV-series makes the general error all the way through, of portraying all events from a modern viewpoint. This causes two main problems:

1. When faced with pain, many of the old heroes stood up and took the pain, both physical and mental, that came with tough decisions. The book gets this across very clearly, while the TV-series have a tendency to portray the same heroic decisions as coincidences and good luck on behalf of those who made them, especially Mr. Adams, but also Thomas Jefferson. George Washington is the only person treated with dignity.

2. Where the book makes it clear that John Adams and his wife, Abigail were best friends and very much in tune with each other, despite some differences, the TV-series highlights all their differences, and mostly the ones where Abigail ends up being right. Sometimes John is left looking like a baby in a way that portrays Abigail almost as a puppeteer, controlling John and telling him what is the right thing to do.

HBO has put a lot of money into making this series, and a lot of effort into getting many details of clothing and scenery historically accurate. So, it's really unfortunate that the main story does not hold the same quality.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Great story yields great screenplay yields great and thought provoking movie

10/10
Author: olderbutwiser from United States
21 April 2008

Today we are used to Presidents in a fully furnished White House with a large staff and all the trappings necessary to perform what many consider the most important job in the world. We are used to them living long after their term in office, with secret service and a large office at their disposal, and the Mayo Clinic on call for any illness for them or their families. It is hard to believe that before Herbert Hoover, only a handful of presidents lived more than 10 years our of office, and most far shorter than that. A pension for a President is a relatively current development(U.S. Grant wrote his autobiography to take care of his family) and any President until Hoover just went back to what he was doing before to make a living. The President in the 20th and 21st century has well defined duties and a large cabinet and staff to do their bidding.

In contrast John Adams as our second president moved into a White House that was in the middle of a swamp, half finished and unfurnished. He had no precedent except George Washington for what his job was, or even what his country was, and a 4 person cabinet of advisors. We had a small undeveloped country, with disputed boundaries, no Army and a Navy consisting of arming merchant ships. If he wanted to go somewhere, he got on his horse. Instead of Camp David, he had to ride a carriage to Massachusetts to his working farm. If he or his family got sick, he had the same access to the primitive medical care as anyone, and upon retirement he was expected to make his own living as a farmer and lawyer. John Adams was blessed with a life that was double the median expectancy at the time (90 instead of 45) and thus got to spend exactly 50 years after the Declaration of Independence to see what the country had become after the Louisiana Purchase(there were already steam train experiments at his death), to see his son become President, and to see his wife and 2 our of 4 children die with him unable to do anything about it.

This series, which is blessed with the underlying book by David McCullough that was developed into a screenplay, has the benefit of covering the incredibly rich, though provoking, and introspective life of John Adams. Adams essentially wrote the screenplay, with his letters to Abigail and Thomas Jefferson providing a treasure trove of information which was developed into a book and a screenplay. He wrote down EVERYTHING- from the most sublime to the most base thoughts, and anybody who read the book will find themselves thinking of our world, people and events in much the same way as Adams did. Those thoughts are somewhat covered in the movie(his insecurity, stubbornness, etc) but unless they put "thought bubbles" over his head it would be hard to convey in a movie. The screenplay is great(why wouldn't it be) and Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney grow (and die) into the role of a lifetime. Stephen Dillane(Jefferson), and Sarah Polley(Nabby) also grow- and die in an moving and thought provoking manner. All others others in the ensemble cast are woven into the story seamlessly. Robert Morse IS George Washington, and the actor who played George III was incredible as well. In fact EVERYBODY and EVERYTHING was incredible-and the first "White House" (burned down in the War of 1812) is a special effects gem in the mold of "Lord of the Rings" or "King Kong" .

Every 8th grade in the country should buy the DVD (at the educational discount as it is $50 or so) and make it a required two weeks of history lessons instead of the dreadful PC films that are out there. It will encourage reading of the book and maybe get everybody (including adults) to get this country back on track. The last line of the movie is as relevant today as when it was made in the 1820's-"Posterity, you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that ever I took half the pains to preserve it."

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Separation of Church and State

10/10
Author: Kathy from United States
1 April 2008

I too have never been a fan of history so it was with some sort of hesitation that I watched the first episode of John Adams. It was the most interesting historical drama I have ever watched and it hooked me for the next episode. And then something else happened. I have been consumed with reading more history. In my quest for more information, I have learned something which I believe most Americans do not understand. Given the condition which this country has slipped into, with the fine line of separation of church and state being tested to the maximum, I find that many of the men who wrote and signed the Declaration of Independence, were very much against having a state sponsored religion. I find the term that this country was founded on Christian principles, not to be correct. Our founding fathers made it quite clear that they wanted separation between church and state. Perhaps we should all revisit in depth our history and how we became the United States of America.

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5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

not worthless

6/10
Author: mukava991 from United States
25 June 2008

A dramatic film about John Adams, the great unsung Founding Father, is long overdue. Granted, it is a mighty if not insurmountable challenge to translate to TV serial form the life story of a man of great accomplishments who survived to the age of 90 in the 18th-19th centuries. One would need at least 20 episodes. This series has a mere 7. The filmmakers' strategy is initially total immersion in the dialogues of colonial politics preceding the revolution to the point of wearing our patience. Messages are conveyed clumsily, with each famous personage delivering the Great Quotes He is Known For as part of casual conversation. We are being spoonfed. Then as each episode unfolds this wearying focus begins to drift from place to place and era to era until by the time Adams ascends to the Presidency the story is told in episodic flashes, albeit flashes containing as much narrative information the screenwriter can unobtrusively jam in. The whole Adams Presidency zips by in one episode. The whole post-Presidency (a quarter century in real time) zips by in 55 minutes. By biting off more than they could chew, the makers of this film have perhaps spat out too much. Each episode contains at least one high point when expert acting combined with brilliant staging and just the right dialogue offer appropriate insights into the man, his times and the human condition. At the end when Adams is asked to give his opinion on a mural depicting the Founding Fathers signing the Declaration of Independence the cantankerous old man lets rip on the dishonesty of telling people that all of the Founding Fathers in benign, glowing togetherness held a ceremony to sign the great piece of paper. He declares the true history of the American Revolution "lost." There are some fine performances here: Stephen Dillane as a wry and sly Thomas Jefferson; Laura Linney as the practical, devoted, opinionated and stern-yet-passionate Abigail, delivering her lines with just the right "mid-Lantic" accent that one would expect a woman raised in 18th century New England to have. Sarah Polley scores as the daughter of the Adamses and Tom Wilkinson takes on Ben Franklin with gusto. But poor Paul Giamatti in the title role! He looks nothing like John Adams (the late John Houseman was a dead ringer) and never quite gets his accent to click with his co-players. You are almost always aware that he is acting, and doing a yeoman's job of it, but it is not John Adams that you feel when watching him. People in very authoritative positions as regards this project believe he is brilliant. I respect their opinion, but strongly disagree with it!

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The Fight For Freedom.

10/10
Author: kylehaines96 from United States
31 December 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If you read my separate reviews of the 7 parts of the series then I suggest you read them first.

The series is about John Adams played in a wonderful performance by Paul Giamatti who is fighting for freedom for the colonies. It also takes a look at him as president and covers his problems at home along with his wife Abigail played by Laura Linney.

If you have not seen this mini-series I say check it out. One thing was going on in my mind while watching this: why does Samuel Adams gets a beer named after him when he did not do any thing where as John Adams did a lot of things. The performances are really well done but some people are wondering why this was not a movie. Well the answer is it didn't need to be a movie because it has too much of a story to tell, and I think that the way it was done here was great. Definitely check it out. It's well paced and well told.

Not Rated.

8hrs 18min/498min(alltogether).

****/****

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