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Water for Elephants
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Water for Elephants More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

An excellent film brought to life with its magical setting and great acting!

9/10
Author: Lizzie Ritchie from United Kingdom
14 May 2011

I found Water For Elephants was a truly magical film. I had not read the novel before going to see it, or even heard of it for that matter. However what that enticed me to watch it was mainly down to its setting. I see that it may be down to a matter of personal opinion and taste, but the idea of a love story set within the 1930's depression era at a circus, really drew me in! I do not normally enjoy films with Robert Pattinson taking the lead, yet i found that he made it flow well and he fitted the part perfectly. The romance between his character Jacob and Witherspoons Marlena; worked well as they clearly fit together. Witherspoon flourished with the part and the connection with the animals she acquired evoked my enjoyment further. Good acting along with the nostalgic setting, narrative and altogether enchanting vibes within the romance helped me really get into the film and feel emotional for the characters and connected with them.

For me though,the true star of the film was August (Christoph Waltz)I have seen Waltz often play the 'baddie' within the narrative and have always admired what an excellent job of it he does. Augusts aggressive persona mixed with his passion for his job and wild lifestyle was brought out so well by Waltz and made me actually feel empathetic at times for him. He played the part so convincingly, making me feel anxious and frightened with his intimidating character. I know that no other actor would have been able to portray the part of August like he did, letting me accredit it such a high rating.

I really did love the film, and would recommend it to anyone seeking a romance with the added twist of a charismatically fascinating setting beautifully assisted by the dreamy lighting, wild animals, and the vintage feel to the entire cast and narrative.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Are circus movies outdated?

Author: Harry T. Yung (harry_tk_yung@yahoo.com) from Hong Kong
5 May 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

While not quite prolific enough, there was a time when circus movies could almost make up a genre: Greatest Show on Earth (1952), Trapeze (1956), Circus of horror (1960), just to name a few of the best known. The times are changing. Cirque du Soleil is likely what kids today think of when the word "circus" is mentioned.

"Water for elephants" takes the well-used structure of a character's reflections, usually with voice-over (wisely used only sparsely here). The movie opens with an old man Jacob (Hal Holbrook) arriving late when the show has long finished and people are packing up. As a kindly circus worker is trying to contact the old age home, Jacob grumbles about none of his five kids having a place for him, although they take turn in visiting at weekends. This time, he wanders off because his 71-year-old son has forgotten (probably forgivable for his bad memories, Jacob adds). Then, a picture of a circus that suddenly folded in 1931 starts a conversation, arousing the circus worker's curiosity, and that's when the story really begins, during the Great Depression.

To cut a long story short, young Jacob's (Robert Pattinson) promising future (despite the Great Depression) is abruptly shattered on the verge of his graduating from Cornell with a degree in veterinary science. Not only are his parents killed instantly in a car accident, but he also finds the family house and other valuable possession taken over by the banks. To cut a long story even shorter, he goes out into the world, joins a failing circus as their resident vet, makes all kinds of friends, helps to take care of a newly bought fifty-something year old elephant that becomes the star that turns the show around, gets entangled in a love triangle with the autocratic owner August (Christopher Waltz) and his lovely wife Marlena (Reese Witherspoon), roughly in that order.

This starts out as an interesting story but ironically loses some steam upon the appearance of the titular "star" Rosie the elephant. The story drags on because, in part at least, hard as Pattinson and Witherspoon tried (and they are not bad, at least Reespoon), there just doesn't appear to be any true spark between the characters. Add to it the predictable predictability, there just does not appear to be anything that can really sustain the audience's interest at a desirable level. The finale climatic pandemonium is rather contrived. Perhaps the one minor surprise is that with the intentional red herring in the beginning, the old man's desolate look and the ominous reference to the collapse of the circus, there is a happy ending. A happy ending of sorts, because of the state we find the old man in at the end, despite the good life he had enjoyed with his beloved. A lamentation of the inevitable natural progress of a human life, namely ageing, I suppose we can call this.

Waltz, reprising his Oscar winning character from Inglorious Basterds, is the highlight of this movie. We all know what Witherspoon is capable of but there just isn't much for her to do here. Pattinson I'd rather see continuing as the heartthrob vampire. One pleasant surprise is Holbrook who at the age of 86, other than having gained some weight, is as good as ever.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Enjoyable time had by all

9/10
Author: susanpr from United States
5 May 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I thought this movie was really very entertaining. Rob showed that he is on his way to becoming a great leading man. He could be suave and cool, but also sweet and endearing, and always intense. Reese seemed to be missing something... Her Marlena never seemed really in the action, sort of aloof. Christoph was fantastic as August - he captured the split personality perfectly, making you smile one minute and cringe the next. Rosie (Tai) was fantastic. The ending was perfect and fitting that Rosie got her revenge. The movie was beautifully filmed, like a movie from the golden days, not today, and held my attention and that of my companions (not Rob fans)for the 2 hours. It kept us immersed in the story, and did not drag. At the end, they both (1 male and 1 female) said that they really enjoyed it and would recommend it highly.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

I was so focused watching the film I forgot to eat my popcorn!

9/10
Author: gdavoile from United Kingdom
5 May 2011

I really recommend Water for Elephants, it was such a fantastic film, and both Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon did brilliantly.

When I usually go to the cinema I wouldn't say my attention span is 100%, where I do spend sometime considering what to eat next and I do occasionally whisper something to my friend about the film. However, I was completely transfixed whilst watching Water for Elephants, and I don't think I even moved a muscle. It was probably a mix between the brilliant acting, the fantastic story line and my love for animals! I mean it does have a typical love story structure, and is a bit like the Notebook. However, you get a great insight into the lives of the circus workers in early 20th Century, and some violent scenes made me wince quite a bit...

It's not a typical cheesy romantic film at all, so men don't be put off that Robert Pattinson is in it, but to all the women...this film will make you love him even more.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Lovely matinée

9/10
Author: skoolgurl_13 from Canada
3 May 2011

I went to see this picture because I love animals, travelling circuses and that period in history. I also had some background on the treatment of animals in the circus that I acquired from reading and television. My maternal grandpa was a veterinarian and it was always nice to hear from my mother of his devotion to animals. Water for Elephants is about a young man who was dragged away from academia and a ordinary life because of extenuating circumstances. The boss's wife becomes attracted to him because he is the opposite of her brutal spouse. I recommend this to viewers who are daring and love to accomplish the impossible. At the same time it is the true immigrant story that led Jacob (Pattinson) to experience the life that he did and hopefully it can encourage people to accomplish all they can. After all people throughout history had to make do with what they had and some good can come out of despair.

Kudos to Sara Gruen and those who helped bring it to the big screen.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

worst screenplay adaptation of a book ever

2/10
Author: permutations from United States
30 January 2012

I'm giving it a 2 rather than a 1 because the acting and photography were okay. The actors couldn't do much about the fact that the screenwriter completely butchered the book, which I finished immediately before watching the movie. Combining the characters of circus owner Uncle Al and Equestrian Manager (aka Ringmaster) August caused many aspects of the story to make no sense. There was no Uncle Al in the movie; August was also the circus owner.

But the most egregious mistake in the screen writing was the transformation of the character of Marlena from a Catholic girl who eloped with August to escape an arranged marriage by her over-protective parents, regretting it within 3 weeks when she discovered August's brutality, to an emotionally tough orphan, raised in foster homes, who by all appearances seemed to genuinely love August. In the movie, it wasn't clear why she would want to leave him.

Which brings me to Problem #3: Reese Witherspoon is too old for this part, 10 years older than the romantic leading man who's supposed to be falling for her, and she looks it. There is no chemistry between them at all, partly because of the severely flawed screenplay, which completely changes her character (she's supposed to be a kindred nice girl to his nice boy, not a tough hard case), and partly because Witherspoon is miscast and too old for the part.

The ridiculous additions to heighten drama at the end of the movie, not in the book, are just trashy melodrama. I won't say more because I don't want to include spoilers. I thought this screenplay was so exceptionally bad an adaptation of one of the best books I've read that I went to the screenwriter's page on IMDb to see what else he's done so I don't bother with it.

In short, pass on the movie - it's a waste of time. But read the book! The book is wonderful.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

a Very Good Film!!!

9/10
Author: nikkiharvey1989 from United States
8 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

First of all, this film was visually stunning. It captured down to the color of what I always thought things looked back in the 1930's. The costumes and the circus acts were equally amazing! The one thing I really enjoyed about this film was the heart that was in it and the emotions that were played by actors and animals alike. Robert Pattinson did a fantastic job of making me believe that he had a love for two things in this film: The lead character(Reese Wither Spoon), and animals. There was always a certain amount of compassion he portrayed towards both these elements that made the film worth while!!! I think Robert can easily make it in Hollywood after Twilight if he keeps doing different roles, and displaying the kind of acting he showed in this film!! All of the actors did wonderful in this film, from the extras, to the animals! The only complaint I have about this, is it seems in a way that it was kinda rushed and it ended a little to quickly. Other than that, A lovely, romantic film!!!! Even the score is written well, and meshes together well with the scenes and what you are probably feeling at the time. I know that even though the critics will bash this film, because it has a Twilight star in it, don't take their opinion!!!

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Very good romantic flick

9/10
Author: haterofcrap from Spain
6 June 2011

I can't believe this movie was directed by the same guy who previously made two horrible and ugly films such as "Constantine" and "I am Legend". Mostly because this movie ended being incredibly good, having a incredibly emotional and heartwarming love story that seems like an homage to the romantic films made in the golden years of cinema.

Just like "Australia", this homage works very well, with memorable scenes and characters. All the performances were very good, Robert Pattison makes a incredible work as the main character, and Christoph Waltz gives an excellent performance as the antagonist.

If you like classic movies from the golden age of Hollywood, then you will love "Water for Elephants". It is such a great underrated film.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

The criticisms on this site are unbelievable

9/10
Author: WhiteLadyOfRohan from United States
8 May 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As a huge fan of the original novel, I was expecting to be disappointed with this movie. After seeing it, I am baffled that the movie fails to explain the significance of the title but was pleasantly surprised.

The negative reviews on this website truly blow my mind. I will agree that the animal abuse scenes are upsetting and difficult to watch. For that reason, I have not recommended this movie to those of my friends who do not like "sad" movies, although the movie does have a happy ending. Nor would I recommend this movie for children. But one reviewer in particular seemed to think that the movie promotes animal abuse and I think is obvious throughout that only the movie's villain engages in any animal abuse whatsoever and that the protagonists of the film and many other characters are strongly against it.

Some of the descriptions of the plot as having serious fallacies as well I also think are unfair. Yes, some parts are schmaltzy and cliché but no more so than many other dramas out there. The film is beautifully done and I think Waltz does a terrific job. I actually would give the weakest performance to Reese, but I feel that that may reflect the bit of "putting her on a pedestal" that Jacob gives to her character, similar to the heroines in other recent movies such as Latika in Slumdog Millionaire. For a young actor, I think that Pattinson does a good job- you feel his passion for his work and he is likable. Perhaps not the strongest acting out there, but I am unable to think of an actor near Pattinson's age who I would have preferred to see in the role. Overall, the acting is well done and the characters are engaging.

Overall, this is a wonderful and unique story. I highly recommend reading the book and I definitely think that the movie is worth seeing if you are looking for a movie with some thought and originality. Do I think this will win the Oscar for Best Picture, Best Actor, or Best Actress? No I do not. I think Supporting Actor nod for Waltz and some production awards are definitely forthcoming, and that if you are looking for a well done movie with an interesting story, you will enjoy seeing Water for Elephants.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Water for Elephants is a beautiful film

9/10
Author: Aileen Grey (jagcreative@gmail.com) from Australia
8 May 2011

Water for Elephants is beautifully filmed with wonderful performances from everyone in the film including the animals. The circus setting provides a magical environment for the story.

Robert Pattinson's quiet, internal and understated acting style is perfect for the role of Jacob. The story is through his eyes and we share with him the wonder, beauty and cruelty of life in the Circus during the Depression of the 30s.

Reese Witherspoon is gorgeous as Marlena the star performer of the circus and wife of the sometimes cruel circus owner played brilliantly by Christoph Waltz.

I thoroughly recommend Water for Elephants to anyone who enjoys a film with an actual story, who can appreciate subtle performances and who can take a moment to move at a different pace.

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