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Water for Elephants
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Water for Elephants More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Reese Witherspoon has never been lovelier.

10/10
Author: PWNYCNY from United States
10 May 2011

Reese Witherspoon has never been lovelier in this excellent 1930s period piece about life in the circus. This movie is first-class entertainment. The story is riveting; the acting is strong; the dialog is snappy and the cast outstanding. Robert Pattison proves that he a major star who can carry a movie. The director makes excellent use of the flashback in unfolding the story, in a manner similar to that used to great effect in Titanic, and one is soon engrossed in the lives of characters. Christoph Waltz again proves that he is magnificent actor. But it is Reese Witherspoon who is the real star of this movie. She is stunningly beautiful and her performance is magnificent. She is the epitome of cinematic perfection. And as for the other stars, the animals, their performances are outstanding too, which is a tribute to their trainers. Congratulations are in order for them. This movie is well worth watching.

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Nothing Like Water for Elephants

5/10
Author: botdog313 from United States
7 May 2011

This film has such great potential in the novel it is based on, the cast, and high production values, but it fails in most of these areas, and that's why the review is so low.In choosing to turn a novel into film some hard decisions have to be made, and I'm not a stickler for making it "just like the book." In fact, it should be its own thing, a film interpretation of the book. Well, what they chose was the conflict, therefore giving them a basic plot line to work with. What is lost is the magic of the book and the circus and the themes. Perhaps it starts with the casting, or is it the acting. Reese Witherspoon, whom I've always liked, is terrible in this and never comes alive as a character or an actress. She seemed to be walking through. Hal Holbrook is the only one with real magic, and I could repeatedly watch his 10 minutes in the opening before the big flashback, and his final 5 minutes at the end. He's the only one who believes in the story and the circus, and it shows. So I would fault casting, acting, directing, and production in the end. It just tires out and fails to come to life...and it lost a wonderful chance with a good period story.

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Beautifully Shot and Wonderfully Acted

10/10
Author: jacks-31 from United Kingdom
4 May 2011

I loved this book and was looking forward to it being made into a film.

I was worried a lot about the reviews I had read but did wonder about how vastly different they were. People either loved it or hated it. Some feel it does not translate well onto the screen and other thought it perfect. I even read on here someone that thought the violence towards the animals was too much. Some love the cast, some hate them especially Rob Pattinson. I'm finding he has a band of haters who I guess resent the fact that he is hugely successful, gorgeous and actually has some talent. Maybe they wish they were in his shoes?? Geesh give the guy a break. Let him learn his trade acting with proved quality.

Well it opened here in the UK today and I went tonight. The cinema was full of mostly females but with a big age range. I think I clocked maybe a dozen or so men.

So my thoughts.......Absolutely loved it. I thought it translated perfectly. Yes there are parts of the book missing but we all know surely that a book cannot be translated to the screen word for word. Cannot happen and I for one accept that and am more than happy with the end product. It was shot beautifully transporting me and the audience back to the era it was set in. I did hear several sighs throughout from around me at certain parts in which I was certainly transported back to the era.

Of the actors I can only say BRAVO to all. The three leads were truly magnificent and I had worried about things I had read like 'lack of emotion' 'wooden' 'lack of chemistry'. I thought Rob Pattinson did a fine job, his emotions were just right, anymore would have been too OTT. I saw the tears in his eyes and the veins pulsing. Christophe was a credible August and Reese if any of them was the weaker as Marlena. She, however looked beautiful and I did not notice the age difference. The supporting cast I thought were also outstanding and the relationship between Jacob, Kinko and Camel truly believable.

After seeing the film I can now put my fears to bed and thoroughly recommend it to all my friends.

I just wish the haters would move on and stick to their 3D CGI specials.

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Painting with Cinematic Magic

10/10
Author: aharmas from United States
2 May 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's been a while since I've witnessed an experience like this, an epic romance set in times gone by, full of nostalgia, rich performances, and truly remarkable cinematography, art direction, music, and a solid grasp on the material. Most spectacular is the blazing performance by Waltz, the man who is conflicted, assertive, a ringmaster in more than one sense of the word, for whom emotions don't run half-speed, someone who doesn't put the same value on a human being's life.

It's the 1930's, and it's rough in the United States, with people suffering through the Depression and its aftermath. The young protagonist reaches a turning point in his life and joins the circus. He is confronted with a series of people who have made this place a home, and in a bit of twist, we get to see the dark side of their arrangement with the owner. It's a way to have a roof over their heads, to survive, but from the start, it's clear it's not heaven.

Jakob meets Marlena, intensely played by Witherspoon, a tough and beautiful survivor, who knows her life is the best she can do at the moment, and hangs on to an abusive husband because after all, he somehow cares what happens to her. Yet, her new acquaintance might prove to be a little problematic because he might prove to more than a simple dilemma. In fact, things become more complex, and a resolution must be reached, with the assistance of a very charming and troubled pachyderm.

What makes the film special is its look and feel; from the start, we're attracted to the denizens of this circus. They're not freaks, but people who have joined another world, and don't quite belong in ours anymore. We have a connection to them because we're human, and we can't help feeling attracted to their offering. It's an old fashioned bag of tricks, with the horses, the animals, the acrobats, and whatever elements made circus such vivid entertainment. Having a romantic triangle in the middle, with a disturbing and abusive authority figure in the middle is just icing on the cake.

Waltz just relishes his part, and it's all obvious in his delivery, his eyes, his moves, his interaction with every single member of the movie. He joined the circus because he knew this could make him a much bigger star, and in the end, it's his powerful and repulsive magnetism that keeps us watching until the very end, as we realize that not all Thar glitters is gold.

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Meh... read the book instead

5/10
Author: Scott Baldwin (Meven_Stoffat) from Canada
2 May 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I came across the book "Water for Elephants" while at the bookstore in the airport, with just hours to go before my flight to England took off. I bought it, but didn't get around to reading it until I was on my way back from Paris. I remember sitting on the bus to Charles De Gaulle airport, reading the first sentence and instantly being hooked. I read most of the book on the plane, and was unable to put it down. Sara Gruen really knows how to craft a story, and does so carefully in the book.

And then, about a week later, while waiting for an IMAX showing of Sucker Punch to start, I see a trailer for the upcoming movie. I figured, "Hmmm, this could work." Well, I'll start on the good stuff. Starting off, I think the filmmakers did what they could with what I consider to really be an unfilmable book. They stayed true to the source material for the most part, so I can really have no complaints there. In addition, Reese Witherspoon was fantastic and so was Christoph Waltz- He is easily the best actor out there today and really managed to play the sick cookie August well. I was actually scared in some scenes he was on screen.

I will also advise people not to let the words "Robert Pattinson" scare people away, because he does a pretty good job here, and it's also funny he plays someone named Jacob in this flick. That said he proves himself to be more tan just "that Twilight guy" in the movie.

However, I must say I found this film to be rather pale in comparison to the book.

For starters, Jacob is much younger in the movie than in the book. He's 93 in the book, here he's 80something. And we don't get any signs of his supposed dementia that the book implies he has.

Another complaint is that the only character that they stayed true to was August. Kinko seemed way too nice here. In the book, he was this smug and arrogant jerk, who was also a ticking time bomb. He'd FREAK OUT when someone walked in on him having alone time. Here he's just like "oh hey what are you doing here". Furthermore, Marlena is reduced to a damsel in distress here. Whereas in the book she was a sweet, nice, and desperate character who's married to a sick puppy, here she's nothing more but a sue and a damsel.

Another complaint is that the movie really seemed rushed in comparison to the book. It kinda felt as if they cared more about visual interest and star power as opposed to being a somewhat faithful adaptation.

That being said, this movie is worth it for the acting and the visual style, and I guess I can say I enjoyed it for both. Oh, and James Frain's cameo as the caretaker was hilarious! But truth be told, I'd much recommend buying a copy of the book instead. 3.5 stars out of 5.

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

The movie is pretty to look at, and Christoph Waltz delivers yet another fine performance – but that's about it

6/10
Author: moviexclusive from Singapore
1 May 2011

No, you are not reading a review written by a Robert Pattinson fan. But yes, this columnist gives credit where it is due. And for the record, the man who has made the millions of girls crazy with his soulless portrayal of a charming (but frighteningly pale) vampire can actually deliver a decent performance.

At least that is what we can tell from this film adaptation based on Sara Gruen's 2006 novel of the same name.

Here, Robert Pattinson discards the white foundation and plays a young man who finds himself on a rickety train after fate surprises him with an unkind twist of events. The train is home to a circus troupe and the veterinary student is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. He also meets the charismatic but violent owner of the circus, and his beautiful wife who happens to be the equestrian star of the traveling shows. It is also on this journey he meets an untrained elephant who will become the hope for the fading troupe.

If you ask us, the film does not do much justice to the title of Gruen's award winning historical novel. Sure, we got the part about the elephants, but where's the significance of water in the film? We understand (without having read the book) that water is a symbol of purification and self worth, and is portrayed many times in the novel, but we are guessing that director Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend, Constantine) was more concerned about how to make this 122 minute production look beautiful on screen.

Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto (Babel, Brokeback Mountain) captures the splendour and magic of a bygone era on his lens. With the story taking place in the 1930s, the Great Depression never looked so good on film. With production design, art direction and set decoration by Jack Fisk, David Crank and Jim Erickson (the trio worked on 2007's There Will Be Blood), and a wondrous score composed by James Newton Howard (The Last Airbender), it is evident that an elite team has been gathered to ensure that production values are top notch. The effort and talent from the production team is evident in the mesmerising and skillfully created scenes. Be prepared to be transported to a world of spectacle and adventure where circus animals and acrobatic acts enthrall.

We don't mean to point fingers, but the problem does seem to lie with the somewhat unexciting storyline where the character development is predictably dull, and the story plays out in the most conventional way one can imagine (cue a white haired old man reminiscing about his glorious past). It may have helped if there was more chemistry amongst the protagonists too – Pattinson and leading lady Reese Witherspoon (Oscar winner for 2005's Walk the Line) seem to be playing it safe as the couple embarking on a journey of forbidden love. The sparks between the two are minimal and as good looking as they are individually, the pairing just doesn't seem to work.

Austria born actor Christoph Waltz (Oscar winner for 2009's Inglourious Basterds) takes on another Hollywood role and manages to outshine his fellow cast members. His portrayal as Witherspoon's husband is charming and brutal at the same time. The violent and abusive owner of the circus is a paranoid schizophrenic, and Waltz effortlessly portrays the role so well that audiences can fall in love with his charisma one moment, and loathe his offensive behaviour the next.

Unfortunately, the fine performance by the multi award winning actor isn't enough to elevate the overstretched movie to a level of spectacle a traveling circus show promises.

- www.moviexclusive.com

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Does it have problems? Sure, but it's still a beautiful movie.

8/10
Author: Ryan_MYeah
1 May 2011

Last night I saw Water for Elephants, a film based on the New York Times best selling book by Sara Gruen. The film has been receiving a wave of mixed reviews recently, and rather unfairly in my opinion, because I very much liked this movie.

Centering on a veterinarian student at Cornell named Jacob Jankowski (Played by Robert Pattinson), it tells the story of how his parents were killed in a car accident, and thus Jacob goes on a life on the road, eventually hopping onto a train belonging to the Benzini Bros. circus. He's hired as the animal care specialists by the ringleader August Rosenbluth (Played by Christoph Waltz), and also forges a separate friendship with his wife Marlena (Played by Reese Witherspoon), for which he develops an infatuation. But soon after gaining a spirited elephant named Rosie to help sell out tickets, it isn't long before Jacob and Marlena's relationship starts to get complicated, and that August's dark nature slowly emerges.

The screenplay does tend to get a tad formulaic on occasion, but it's an elegantly handled premise. It captures the essence of hardships during the Depression Era, of which period the film takes place. The characters feel appropriately fleshed out, and the performances are quite engaging. I did notice that Pattinson and Witherspoon's chemistry was not always up to par, but they did a well enough job, and on their own are quite good, as is Christoph Waltz's quietly frightening turn as August.

The film still does have faults, such as the aforementioned occasional formula and lack of chemistry, and I also think a couple scenes in the second act kind of dragged. But it's also impossible for me to completely hate a movie as well designed as this one. The cinematography by Rodrigo Prieto is lovely, Jack Fisk and Jacqueline West do an excellent job with dazzling respective sets and costumes, and the film features yet another addition to a string of outstanding scores by the great James Newton Howard.

It isn't perfect, but I'm gonna give Water for Elephants *** out of ****

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Top 5 movies of the year!

10/10
Author: Neil Fulham from Oxford
1 May 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Read the book,BRILLIANT! Saw the film last night.The book is better but are both equally balanced.The only bad things are the lack of chemistry between RP&RWS but its goodish.Chris waltz is amazing and scary.the elephants is amazing.director Francis Lawrence pays more attention to the amazing costumes and set than the acting.the dwarf actor is the best supporting actor. SPOILERS .Near the end they look down @ a baby .Old Jacob looks down at a photo of all of them .Funny when Robert is a clown .Andd When he gets thrown of the train he grabs a branch so hes fine! .Supprised that Francis Lawrence was named as the director but he pulled it off.And amazing film 5 Stars!

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

The train moves fast not the movie.

6/10
Author: Quietb-1 from United States
25 April 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's a beautiful period piece with attention to detail. Well photographed, great costumes and an excellent score.

Reece Witherspoon looks good but doesn't break a sweat. Robert Pattinson still exhibits the range of the living dead. Christoph Waltz is a standout, as kind of a glorious bastard.

A book has time to meander, but maybe the movie didn't have to take the time to show going off to school and dead parents. My guess the book took the time to give a little more depth to the Reece character. It's too long and too slow. The foreshadowed long promised circus disaster comes across as funny. The dispatch of the well played villain is not at the hands of the hero.

There are beautiful animals. Don't worry about the animal cruelty scenes as there is a disclaimer in the slow over-wide end credits that states "no animals were harmed..."

Like the second rate circus, it's a good movie that could have been great.

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Blind Man's Perspective of Water For Elephants

7/10
Author: blindfilmcritic from United States
25 April 2011

I didn't think Robert Pattinson was all that much to look at. I gotta be honest with you. I don't know what all the kids see in him, but okay.

Wait, they have voice over in this movie? When? I just figured somebody was doing a soliloquy like in Shakespeare. You stand there and rattle off a few lines and do your Shakespeare thing and then things start to happen again. They don't do that in movies? They do in my movies. Ha ha.

I thought the character development was great. You really got attached to the characters in this one. You understood the love story going on between these two. A little bit of a chick- flick. Reese Witherspoon was a lot of fun, but she seemed a little too refined for spending her whole life in the circus. I mean, you figure, she probably in her mid-20's now. She's gotta have some circus on her, but she's this very classy woman. Hey, you know what might have been fun? If instead of Reese Witherspoon's voice they replaced it with Joy Behar. That would have made her sexy!

I'll tell you, they talk about Robert Pattinson being such a big star. Whoever they got to play Rosie the elephant was unbelievable! Man I really was convinced that was an elephant. I swear to God. They had me. You know, that elephant worked for peanuts. Ha ha.

I mean that Robert Pattinson… he was kind of monotone through this movie. There wasn't a lot of emotion. He wasn't really up like this and freaking out and he wasn't really down like this, but the whole time he about right here.

Christoph Waltz was terrific as August. His emotion was fantastic. This guy could snap at any moment. You don't know what this guy is gonna do.

In part of the movie, I guess what's happening here is the elephant is doing some tricks and their cheering and the circus is going on and the elephant is doing its thing. Nice for you sighted people to look at, but really it adds nothing to the story. What the tricks are, I don't know. Probably did a couple of card tricks. Ha ha. So, for Water for Elephants, I'm gonna give it 3 out of 4 eyes open.

Hey, you know what time it is when an elephant sits on your fence? Time to buy a new fence, of course! Ha ha.

More at BlindFilmCritic.com

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