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Water for Elephants
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Reviews & Ratings for
Water for Elephants More at IMDbPro »

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Index 258 reviews in total 

An average historical romantic drama

Author: tapio_hietamaki from Helsinki, Finland
2 October 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

So Robert Pattinson actually can act? Apparently! Well, a little, at least. He's pretty much on par with Reese Witherspoon in this historical drama. The story is about a young guy who's got some trouble with The Great Depression and falls in love with a circus director's young wife.

The film isn't very sad, it's not very funny, it's not surprising at all, but it doesn't fail very badly either. All in all it's average.

People seem concerned about the animal abuse this film portrays. I say, get a grip. Sure animal cruelty is a thing, and this film helps raise awareness. Obviously they didn't actually hurt an animal in the making of this movie. Actually I had to cringe a little when the characters in the film take Christoph Waltz's cruelty towards a circus elephant as a sign of his absolute wickedness - in a film set in the 1930's, when animals had no more rights than women or ethnic minorities!

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A perfect movie

Author: Chloe Gardner
28 August 2013

I have to admit after reading the book i was mesmerized by the whole story and couldn't wait to see the film. Just like the book the film was elegant, sophisticated and very well written. After seeing Robert act in the twilight films i was cautious as to how he was going to portray Jacob but his acting was superb and i really believed his love for both Marlena and Rosie. Christoph Waltz was exactly how i pictured August and i think he played the part perfectly.

There was some parts of the book that i felt were brushed aside in the film. For example the minor friendships between Jacob and other performers as well as the extra information about August's past. However, i think this is probably reasonable as not everything can be included in the film.

Overall, i think you'd be missing out if you didn't watch the film or read the book. It has to be one of the best films i have ever seen!

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Like Running Away

Author: neppie from United States
18 June 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Anyone with a sense of adventure ever wishing to run away and join a circus will appreciate "Water For Elephants". Early on the hero jumps a train and throughout felt like I was along for the ride. I went into the journey not being prejudiced by the book, which I now know the film does justice.

Details of circus life during the great depression seemed so believable I later searched to discover whether a "Benzini Brothers" circus ever existed. The answer is no, but the events are a composite of real happenings. I did not have to investigate to know mistreatment of animals depicted in that era wasn't exaggerated.

At risk of spoiling am compelled to acknowledge a predictable plot device I typically spot fooled me. It is a credit to the movie I was so engrossed didn't realize an unlikeable supporting character wouldn't be all bad. Call me a rube.

It isn't a perfect film as I knew by mixed reviews it wouldn't be. They can't all be gems and I still came away satisfied it wasn't wasted time.

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visual smörgåsbord

Author: Roedy Green from Victoria, BC. Canada
31 May 2013

First, this is a visual spectacle. A depression era circus, complete with a steam train, tents, animals, performers, audiences, a speak easy and towns is spread out before you in crisp detail with a cast of thousands. It is all so real, you forget this takes megabucks of movie magic.

It is the story of August (played by Christopher Waltz), the owner of a second rate circus, a tyrant, a control freak. He forces everyone around him into abject submission, even animals. He treats his wife as a trophy or toy to show off. He is a sadist as well. He enjoys toying with people as if there were puppets. It is very much absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The basic plot is August commits cruel deeds, abuse of power or sadism both the the people around him and to Rosie the elephant. The movie foreshadows some dreadful revenge will happen to him. This tension builds and builds and builds. I found myself eager for this event to happen, perhaps a fire, perhaps being torn apart by lions, perhaps having his head squashed like a watermelon. What actually happens is not nearly as gruesome as my imagination demanded. I am told the book was watered down for this scene.

Robert Pattinson as Jacob is eye candy. He is so pleasing to look at. His perfect posture projects wholesomeness, kindness, old fashioned virtue, and a slightly quirky uniqueness.

The only time I noticed the special effects was in the escaped animals scene. All the other times it looked like Reese Witherspoon, Christopher Waltz and Robert Pattinson were performing their own stunts. I don't know who to give the credit to, actors or CGI technicians.

Especially the beginning of the movie captures the desperation of the depression era. You were on your own without any help from anyone. I think people don't like this movie because the world it depicts is so bleak, hundreds of people at the mercy of August, unable to resist. His endless cruelties are pretty depressing. It has a happy ending, but that can't really counter all that misery.

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Economic Allegory

Author: flapdoodle64 from Portland, OR, United States
11 March 2013

A few times every year I watch a chick flick with my wife, trying to be good husband. I watched this film with my wife last year and to my surprise found out that, overall, this is a decent film about wealth and power in the USA.

Robert Pattinson, who is terrible in the Twilight movies (which are, of course extremely terrible), does a decent job here. Wisely, someone trimmed his eyebrows, and Pattinson also manages to project a human affect...if this guy can ever get away from being typecast as dumbass lovesick vampire, he might have a career doing supporting roles in film, or maybe as a co-star in a TV series.

Reese Witherspoon is good here, and the early 1930's type make-up has the unexpected effect of making her somewhat bizarre face (actually, it's just the chin) seem quite lovely.

And it's nice to see Hal Holbrook getting a little work. It's not the best job he's ever had, but it's better than most of the crap comedies geriatric actors seem to get stuck in.

The major dramatic power source, however, is Christopher Waltz, radiating melovolence and pain like a wounded shark.

The main thing about this movie is that a writer did some good homework on circuses of the Depression Era, and wrote a good story capitalism, power, poverty, and cruelty.

Oh, yes, there is a love story, which was the focus of the marketing. That factor, plus the casting of the 2 romantic leads according to a demographic expectation regarding the tastes of female movie viewers, caused this gritty and harrowing economic allegory to aimed away from a large viewership that might have more fully appreciated it.

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Author: mukava991 from United States
23 February 2013

Water for Elephants, whatever its merits as a book (I don't know because I haven't read it), is only okay as a film. Although startling, well-staged moments are sprinkled throughout and interesting knowledge about how low-income circuses were run in those days is dispensed liberally and entertainingly both in the dialogue and actions, somehow, the whole thing fails to gather steam. The specialty of the director, Francis Lawrence, is music videos and TV shows, which might explain the spottiness of the finished product.

The story, which begins promisingly, is framed by an aged nursing home resident (veteran actor Hal Holbrook) reminiscing about his experiences many decades earlier. In 1931, an impoverished veterinary student (Robert Pattinson, as the younger Holbrook) stumbles upon a hard-scrabble traveling circus, whose unstable manager (Christoph Waltz) hires him to tend to the animals. We are swept into the past through a series of fluid traveling shots that follow Pattinson's journey from home to the road to the circus itself. A love triangle develops involving the manager's wife (Reese Witherspoon) as she works with Pattinson to develop an act with a newly acquired elephant. Witherspoon does some impressive physical stunts with this engaging pachyderm; you can't say she didn't do her homework. But despite many little moments of well-timed action and some excellent supporting performances (Jim Norton as an aging alcoholic crew member who befriends Pattinson, James Frain as a Cockney elephant trainer, to name just two) there is a remoteness to the interactions between the main characters, most fatally an annoyingly persistent lack of chemistry between Pattinson and Witherspoon, even in the lovemaking scenes (which, to be honest, are boringly staged). Waltz, whose volatile character is supposed to surprise and even shock, has nothing to play against.

Possible Spoilers in this paragraph: Then there is a makeup problem. For a film that is set in the grit of a low-income rough-and-tumble milieu during the Depression, the extras (circus workers and patrons) all seem to have had extensive cosmetic dentistry a la Beverly Hills in the 21st century. The type of people depicted in this drama simply didn't have such teeth, yet no attempt was made even to yellow them a bit. It adds to the stilted artificiality of the film as a whole. Another gaffe: Witherspoon gets a nasty black eye one night and the very next morning the shiner is gone. I could perhaps have accepted the sudden transformation if a brief scene of her assiduously applying makeup had been inserted. But no. And the pristine morning-after face is presented to us in lingering close-up to ensure our incredulity!

The climax continues the film's schizophrenic course (good elements used poorly).

Finally, due to the fact that there is no real drama (outside of the string of heartbreaking subplots of abused animals), our minds wander to such matters as chins (both Waltz and Witherspoon have long, pointy chins) and eyes (both Pattinson and Witherspoon have widely spaced eyes).

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Watch it now!!!

Author: chefjr84 from arlington tx
10 February 2013

I recently watched this movie, and i have to say it is a good movie. I think that maybe R-Patz got a bad shake down but all in all i think it is a great little movie that has many elements in it for everyone.... People need to get passed what people "HAVE" done and get on to what they are doing....I cannot believe that this movie is over looked by so many i personally cannot see why, I judge a movie on what it is not who is in it....Romantic drama? No i think this was an entertaining movie/ story, I really hope that people see what i see in this and start to see good in things and go into stuff with an open mind. I have seen rob's other stuff and this is probably my favorite part he has done ( yes even eddy) I think he is a great actor and deserves to be in the spotlight, i have seen so many horrible movies recently that this one actually stands apart from them as a Great 1 and i will actually boost my rating from 7 to 8...Reese W. is as well great in this movie although to be real she is great in just about everything that she does, but in this she is just WONDERFUL. So in conclusion Everyone GO SEE THIS MOVIE NOW it is a must see!!!!!!!

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Surprisingly Enjoyable!

Author: g-bodyl from United States
3 February 2013

It is always good when a critic or audience member is surprised by a film that does not look appealing but it turns out to be as this film is a case of. I thought Water for Elephants was going to be a lame ripoff of Twilight or some stupid romance story. But what I got was a dazzling, magical film with an amazing production design. Yes, there is romance in this film but it's not as profound as one would expect.

Francis Lawrence's film is about a guy, Jacob who has lost almost everything in the Depression. He boards a train looking for passage/work but he runs into a traveling circus show. There he is hired to be a vet and look after their most prized animal, Rosie the elephant. But, he falls for the wife of the iron-willed circus owner and that could ultimately bring his downfall....

The acting was actually not bad. Robert Pattinson is a little less wooden than he was in Twilight. He does not sparkle and shows some emotion. Reese Witherspoon is really good as the wife. But, the real king of the show is Christoph Waltz. He really knows how to play the slimy, bad guy. I just love this guy as an actor.

Overall, this is a really good film that will pass as family entertainment. There were some animal brutality scenes which I never like, but it works for the film. This film has a wonderful story, great acting, and very good visuals/production design. I almost thought this film as a fantasy romance which it feels like when you're watching this. I'm glad this is not another Twilight. I rate this film 9/10.

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Bringing the beauty of the circus back!

Author: ashenslee from United States
29 April 2012

The cinematography in this movie is beautiful. It really does a good job of bringing the 1930's back to life. It shows the circus as glamorous and shows how beautiful of an event it once was. When the circus came to town everyone would get dressed in their best and take the whole family to see a magical event. The lighting in this movie was amazing and made important scene more dramatic. The film also did a good job of looking old and the clothing the actors wore really helped as well. The language they used was even how people spoke back in the 1930's.

This movie shows the lengths that someone will go to for love and the well being of others. Marlena and Rosie were both victims of August and his abuse and Jacob was there to save them from their dark future. From the first time August beat Rosie for not responding and the first time he saw a mark on Marlena he has always stepped in to stop what is right. He even does it for the others in the show as well. I enjoyed this movie and would recommend it to anyone.

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An enchanting and mystifying setting fueled by an emotionally charged atmosphere making for fairly intense film with definite intrigue.

Author: igobybartlett from United States
21 April 2012

Beyond the evident concrete beauty of this film, i.e. .the aesthetic value, era-appeal, and all around enchanting yet dark setting, the most awe-inspiring aspect of this production for me was the emotionally charged presence it conveyed. Although in part a love story about two people, the love story between the humans and animals was what was most relevant to the story for it was the mutual love for animals and the tenderness shown by each Pattison's character as well as Witherspoon's character that seem to bring the two together. I really felt a weight of emotion come over me while experiencing scenes involving the animals in particular. I am not sure what it is about the setting, acting, or mystique of the film that caused these severe emotional reactions from me, but for that I believe then that the film was successful capturing such a heavy environment. Although not so subtle or intricate, and the viewer may not find his or herself deeply involved with the characters or plot necessarily, the film still captures a beautiful mystique and therefore still leading you on an emotional journey of a tried and true love story, but from a much more intriguing standpoint.

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