Water for Elephants (2011) Poster

User Reviews

Add a Review
268 ReviewsOrdered By: Helpfulness
10/10
Old Hollywood Movie
laurieO7622 April 2011
Water For Elephants takes us back in time, not just because it is set in the 30's but also because the movie is filmed with such quality and attention to detail, it is very much like movies used to be made. No reliance on CGI or profanity to make up for lack of imagination either. The dialog is crisp and the film adheres very much to the spirit of the book, even if things were consolidated or omitted for the film.

The cinematography is lush and if the film doesn't win an award for it, it will be a travesty.

And the performances are wonderful. Christoph Waltz is captivating as a complex character and Reese Witherspoon walks a fine line (no pun intended) between the role of a dutiful wife and that of a survivor. But it is Robert Pattinson who delivers a range of emotion not seen from him before. He is understated and again reminds me of actors of old - Gary Cooper specifically. He plays a gentleman and a scholar but also shows passion and intensity. Any doubt viewers might have had on his abilities as an actor are wiped away, as he more than holds his own in scenes with two Oscar winners.

This is a must-see movie for anyone wanting to see more quality films and less action-packed/violence ridden/computer enhanced drivel at the theaters. Bravo!
139 out of 173 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
A truly spectacular movie!
GlimmerBunny13 April 2011
OK, I'll try to tell you a bit of what I thought about "Water for Elephants", without spoiling anything. I have not read the novel (even though I plan to do it now) so I'm only offering my views on the movie.

First of all: It's amazingly beautiful. The costumes and sets are gorgeous, the cinematography is exquisite, the animals are cute (especially Rosie the elephant) and the three leads are very easy on the eyes as well.

Robert Pattinson was actually quite good. This was a surprise to me, since I didn't really think he was anything special in any of the Twilight movies or "Remember Me". He looked very appropriate for the time the movie was set in, and even though I love Emile Hirsch (who auditioned for Jacob too) I'm confident that Robert was the best choice there was for this role, it was perfect for him. Hal Holbrook was also very fitting for the role of older Jacob. The two actors really made me believe that they were the same person in different stages of his life.

Reese Witherspoon was okay. She looked beautiful, was charming and cute but it felt like something was missing - however, I can't think of any other actress I would have liked better in the role, so I came to the conclusion that it was probably the character Marlena that was a little bland, not Reese.

But the true star of this movie was Christoph Waltz. I may be a bit biased since I loved him in "Inglorious Basterds", but he was even more perfect in this movie. His portrayal of August was amazing, he made him likable and interesting and I was always compelled by his scenes. The character reminded me a lot of Miles in "King Kong" (played by Jack Black), a character that also wanted fame and success more than anything and used questionable and even cruel methods to get it. He was terrifying in some scenes too, but always believable. Also, in the beginning of the movie i really felt the chemistry between August and Marlena, which made the character even more interesting; however, I did feel like Jacob and Marlena had chemistry too, and in my opinion this way it was more realistic (both men loved her and she also cared about both of them).

I loved the movie, and I really recommend it to everyone. I would sincerely give it 10/10 stars. Of course there was some parts of the movie I didn't like (particularly towards the end of it), but overall it was a magical, spectacular and epic period movie, and I can't wait to see it again!
192 out of 265 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
very fine drama; old style and that's why it is so appealing
Batur Güney20 April 2011
Water For Elephants got released here a full week ahead of the US and first let me indulge in the joy of being able to review such a highly anticipated film before my fellow American film-loving counterparts.

The film completely fulfilled my expectations. It is a well scripted, meticulously shot and finely acted period drama, the likes of which are increasingly less to come by at the movies these days. A big congratulations to all those involved with the production for having the confidence to delve into this venture. Actually I am very curious about its box-office. Last year was a surprisingly profitable year for adult dramas and if that is any indication, this fine film should continue the same trend.

Water For Elephants really impresses with the production design, atmosphere, costumes and stunts. Most of the time I felt like I was watching a classic film made during the studio era; it looked that authentic and faultless. The three main actors all seem satisfied for having such meaty parts and deliver more than satisfactory performances. Robert Pattinson shines and proves that he is capable as a serious actor. Reese Witherspoon has always been a true professional and here with her stunts demonstrates that again. She also fits surprisingly well to the 1930s platinum blonde beauty type. Christopher Waltz is a wonderful actor and here it becomes very clear that his success in Inglorious Basterds was not a one-off. The story is very emotional and while it touches the heart romantically, it also manages to lay down a heretofore unseen dark aspect of old era circus entertainment in particular and also crowd entertainment as a whole. I almost wished for a three hour epic after it ended; it left me wanting more. The whole thing was really interesting.

All in all a wonderful and deeply satisfying experience at the movies, well worth every dime. Go see it so that adult dramas of this caliber (in terms of star power, production budget and subsequent attention to detail) could continue to be made.
105 out of 141 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
a spectacular film
Hilal Ergul15 April 2011
When I read Water for Elephants the book, I knew the film would be difficult to make and I was ready to be disappointed. Surprisingly, they managed to capture most of it in picture. Some things were lost on the way, of course, the most unfortunate one being old Jacob's struggles as an old man who refuses to retire from life before his time actually comes. Other details that made the book a masterpiece seemed more suitable for a book so they were not missed, mainly because the core story was there to its finest details.

The reenactment of America in Great Depression was good, and the circus was everything you would expect it to be. Such chaos and life and acts and performers and runes and animals all mashed up in a beautiful lively atmosphere. Scenes flowed one after the other smoothly and nothing seemed out of place. This is a hard thing to accomplish when it comes to adaptations. Most of them end up looking like a slide show of pictures or events taken from the book (see Hardwicke's Twilight for a perfect example). This film was a success.

The acting was another noteworthy aspect. People will have to acknowledge Robert Pattinson as a first class actor after watching this; and Waltz will be the go-to person for the upcoming psycho roles. He just digs it, I think and he creates the most intimidating gentleman on screen. Witherspoon looked average to me as Marlena, but I may be biased so I won't go into it much. All in all, it would be bizarre if at least one out of the three did not get an Oscar nod.
133 out of 186 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Very pleasantly surprised by Pattinson!
kevin_4817 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Okay, firstly as I guy I did not think this movie was going to be all that great and interesting for me. I was wrong. The cinematography, costumes, score and acting all added up to an interesting and quite lovely spectacle. I suggest everyone should give it a go. You might be as surprised as I was. I'm going to try to avoid any major spoilers so I'll keep it very vague on the story.

The movie kind of keeps you guessing which was its going to go for the characters. Be it happy ever after or big disaster. I could genuinely feel the admiration and respect between Jacob (Pattinson) and Tai (the elephant) which is essential and central to the story. Which brings me to Pattinson. He was absolutely very good in this movie. He was different to previous characters he has played. He was warm and caring yet a strong character which is a difficult balance. I mentioned the connection with Tai was believable and the same is true with Marlena (Witherspoon). She also did a fine job. Her circus tricks should be commended at the very least. Waltz was very good as the "bad guy". He just delivers that kind of role brilliantly. When Pattinson and Waltz are on screen together you do not feel that one is less impressive than the other. That is why I was pleasantly surprised by Pattinson. He has shown in this movie that he is a fine actor with a lot more potential and I question anyone who says differently's motivations. (Yes, he is Edward Cullen..but its time to let that go people and give the guy some major credit for his acting)

All in all. I thought it was a charming movie.
59 out of 81 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
Pleasantly surprised by it. For a movie set in the 1900s circus world, it does hold and show the magic of circus on screen as it is beautifully shot and told.
ThisIsAMsg22 April 2011
I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. Without being trite and redundant, it explores timeless and universal themes such as finding one's destiny and freedom, life choices, love, and jealousy, put in an interesting setting, that is the circus world -- the early 1900s when the US prohibition and depression were taking place -- which is nicely recreated on screen (by production designer Jack Fisk who's mostly known for his work with Terence Malick and David Lynch). Based on Sara Gruen's novel, this very original story is beautifully told, uses classical film-making techniques -- its camera moves, staging, lighting, pacing, usage of 'live' animals, stunts and special effects -- and well acted -- Robert Pattison comes across as a decent lead actor and not just a pretty face; Reese Witherspoon, very convincing as the star circus girl, doing some of her own stunts; however Christoph Waltz's performance stands out the most as he maintains the dynamic among all the main characters and fuels the drama. It's nice and refreshing to see a classically-made-and-looking film coming out of Hollywood.
53 out of 76 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
One Spectacular Show
Cole Ann22 April 2011
Readers, fear not. This is one adaption that lives up to the book.

Water for Elephants is pure beauty. Despite the fact that it takes place during the Depression, it makes you almost wish you lived during the '30s.

One reason is the costumes. They are wonderfully done, as well as the makeup. Another is the eye candy. No, I'm not talking about Robert Pattinson(though he looks as gorgeous as ever). I'm talking about the breathtaking cinematography, courtesy of Rodrigo Prieto.

While the leads(Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz) all turn in GREAT performances, the real star here is Tai the elephant. She plays Rosie, the newest addition to The Benzini Bros. Most Spectacular Show on Earth, who is brought in in hopes of taking The Benzini Bros. circus to a new level(particularly to the level of Ringling Bros.).

As per usual, there are quite a few changes that may or may not irritate the readers. It all depends on the person. One that I felt was an improvement upon the book, however, was the combining of August and Uncle Al. I honestly didn't miss Al one bit.

Water for Elephants is a beautiful, enchanting, mesmerizing must-see.
51 out of 73 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
An amazing and magical movie
Alisa Gonzalez15 April 2011
How to summarize this movie? How does one write about the magic you experienced? I do not know where to begin. The movie took me by storm, it was so fantastically well-made, colors, scenes, it captured one and brought one back to 1930 century magical, but oh so dark circus life. Robert impressed in his role and enchanted me once again. By his side was Reese as spectacular as she always is, beautiful, seductive and fragile. Their forbidden love and passion was captivating. But the movies big star in my opinion was Rosie, the stunning elephant. Could not help but to wish for my own Rosie.

The movie was wonderful in every way, romance, passion, action, tragedy, joy, yes, everything you can imagine. A different story (although it starts as the Titanic and has a similar feel) that enchanted me. I still can't stop thinking about the movie.

Must be seen!
108 out of 166 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
A beautiful film, less depressing than the book I believe
kalel4122 April 2011
Having read a few reviews of this depression era set novel by Sara Gruen, I was apprehensive to see the film. The readers and critics had said it was too depressing and didn't end well. I'm happy to say the film is not bad at all. It captures the mood of the 1930s, and we the audience really get a sense of what it must have been like to live in that time in history. (Yes we went through our own depression but it was quite different and much more difficult back then.) The film centers around Jacob (Robert Pattinson) a student of veterinary science at Cornell, who gives up his education and runs away after his parents die in a car accident. He stumbles upon a traveling circus, where he is taken in by riff raffs and other stowaways. They have all become a part of the circus ensemble in order to make ends meet. Jacob eventually meets their ringleader August, played by Christolph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds) and his beautiful wife Marlena (Reese Witherspoon). August takes Jacob under his wing initially, but later Jacob learns his true colors. I do not wish to give away too much of the storyline but something tells me people will like this movie as much as the book if not more. I think the film makers have managed to make a film about the depression era without it being depressing. The film has an epic feel to it. It's, emotional, inspiring, romantic, and overall it makes for a very good drama. Even the ending is uplifting. The cast is wonderful as well. Robert Pattinson holds his own against two Oscar winners. It's great to see Reese Witherspoon back in action and in top form. There aren't enough great things I can say about Christoph Waltz. He balances the line between being dangerous and comedic with razor sharp precision, and is very intimidating…his performance is brilliant. It's great to see a film with real sets, and gritty and flawed characters, rather than imaginative CG rendered places and creatures. Even the train, (where a large part of the film takes place) feels alive with all its moving parts…it has a personality of its own. It's a surprising film from director Francis Lawrence whose previous films include "Constantine" and "I am Legend." It's clear that the team he works with has a great sense of capturing a story's mood, time, and place. "Water for Elephants" is a beautiful, moving, and entertaining film. Go see it! http://tickingticket.blogspot.com/
45 out of 65 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
Perfect.
dscroggs422 April 2011
Although the title of this review pretty much sums it up, in order to post a review i must include 10 lines of text. So here goes. This movie starts out with a similar feel to Titanic like many have said. It takes you back 70+ years and takes you through and incredible journey of passion, adventure, and just life in general. For every up there is a down, for every laugh a cry. You find yourself full of emotion at so many points in this movie it's hard to not get chills at times. The ending is well written well acted out and well, like the rest of the movie is just perfect. How this is only @ a 6.3 rating currently is beyond me, hopefully more people will take the time to post this movie was a solid 8.5 in my opinion and is a must see.
62 out of 95 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
loading
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews