|Index||7 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film appeared to be your typical small budget flop until the company soldiers appeared. The company soldiers were so believable that it seemed like they had just marched forth from 1860 into my living room. The dialog offered an interesting glimpse into the daily struggles of a Union soldier. Aside from the outstanding performance of the company soldiers (particularly this young Kevin Steck fellow who reminded me of a young Keanu Reeves!), the movie had the most magnificent special effects. As the barn burnt, I thought I could smell the blatant odor of an 1860's era timber-based shack lingering into my nostrils; such realism! The clinching factor was the performance by the dog Jack. Seriously, who trained that mutt? He was Airbud on steroids and so much more! I highly recommend this movie to not only civil war buffs and dog fanatics but to any fan of character development, extraordinary CGI, and professional dog stunts. A must see for any true American!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I received a copy of this seemingly no-name film a few months back and saw little reason to even pop it in my lavish entertainment system. Then, much to my misfortune, I suffered a bit of a setback (car crash) in Mississippi. I was couch ridden for sometime (my wife will attest to this!) so I figured why not watch that silly film that's been functioning as a beverage holster in my den. The wife was so kind as to toss the movie in for me, and so began my adventure back to the days of civil divide and slavery. I watched halfheartedly until these company soldiers began to converse with the greatest sense of natural instinct. It was as if these small time actors had taken a whirl in the Delorean back to the 1860's and taken on the demeanor of an actual Union soldier. This one fellow was all to dashing and a bit generous with his approach to stage direction, but he captivated me with his few lines of pithy dialog and active presence on the screen. It came to be that this young gentlemen was Kevin Steck. This particular actor along with his co-cast of soldiers transported my mind back to a historical time of severe ideological divergence. I began to place my self in the shoes of a Union soldier, and as I imagined the daily life of a company soldier I became lost in this simplistic film. I write this review solely in appreciation for having experienced the refreshing feeling of natural acting. I cannot help but reminisce about my days in independent films and small time roles. My sense of nostalgia comes from watching the casual manner of these actors and thinking how it was when I didn't think to act but instead just imagined and naturally behaved as if I were another person in another time. Thanks Dog Jack and the magnificent cast (especially the company soldiers *Kevin Steck*.)
In this fact-based film which is still considered fictional in the
closing credits, Jed is a young slave at the beginning of the Civil
War. Louis Gossett narrates the story from the point of view of Jed as
an adult. Jed's best friend is his dog Jack.
Jed is owned by General Cooper but actually works for the general's son Kyle, who has taught him to fight hoping that they will be able to serve together in the war. Jed's knowledge proves valuable later.
Several slaves run away but are found and punished. While training in the woods, Jed and Kyle find a wounded Yankee soldier Nathaniel and bring him back to the general's place so Jed's father can take care of him. For this Jed's father is severely punished, and Jed runs away. Nathaniel has given him a letter to give to his father Rev. Stewart in Pittsburgh. The pastor hasn't spoken to his son in years and strongly opposes the war, though he will help slaves. Given directions on how to get to Pittsburgh, Jed makes the trip with the dog but is pursued by men who want the money they will get for returning Jed; it is federal law that runaway slaves be returned, even in areas without slavery. When Jed goes inside Rev. Stewart's church, the pastor refuses to let the men have Jed, and he provides the young man shelter. Jed does not give the pastor the letter, because the pastor indicates he has no desire to reconcile with his son.
Jed and Rev. Stewart both sign up for service in the Union Army. The pastor does this to keep an eye on Jed but also to act as a chaplain for the medical corps. With the attitude that blacks aren't as good as whites, Jed finds military service more difficult than he expected, but with the training he received from Kyle, he performs admirably and is soon accepted. Casey, a veteran of the Mexican War, gives Jed the additional training and support he needs. The dog also makes a contribution to the war effort.
Jed and Rev. Stewart both face numerous ethical dilemmas, and Jed finds his life in danger several times.
As expected, Kyle and his father both end up serving in the war.
This is a good movie. Most of the leading actors do a good job. Jed is portrayed as quite intelligent and determined, and he overcomes a lot of prejudice to show he is a man and equal to others.
Being a war movie, this does have violence, but most of the violence is unrelated to the war. The cruelty of white people toward slaves is the worst part, but it is not graphic. As for the war itself, we see the unfortunate decisions that have to be made in combat situations, and both sides of moral issues. We are also reminded of what a terrible thing slavery was.
There is also good music. Songs performed by slaves are the best. There is also church music sung by white people, who don't sound professional, though overall they sound good. They are supposed to be soldiers, not singers, and so what if they aren't together or all on key?
It is a worthy effort.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Having recently watched Ken Burns' Civil War series, I decided to watch
a movie based upon the Civil War. Seeing the name "Louis Gossett, Jr"
drew me in to Dog Jack. However, he did not actually appear in the
movie, but only narrated. The actors for the most part, appeared to
have been recruited from a church choir, (although admittedly, this is
pure speculation on my part), as many of them could sing very nicely,
but were ineffective as actors. I did not recognize a single familiar
face, not even a grade C or D actor. It was difficult to emotionally
connect with the characters due to the contrived feel of the actors
reciting their lines. The choreographed fight scenes were weak as well.
On the plus side, the storyline was actually quite interesting. The
cinematography was excellent, having been filmed in Iowa, Wisconsin,
Illinois, and Pennsylvania. If you approach this movie as a documentary
re-enactment, then you won't be disappointed. Civil War buffs should be
able to enjoy this despite its flaws. But it must be said, this could
have been *so much better*, had they hired a couple of professional
actors, even B-grade actors, for a couple of the lead roles.
The movie also had a "faith/spirituality" message and feel to it, which is fine by me, but is one of the reasons why I suspect that the actors had been recruited from a church group, probably from somewhere in Illinois. (In the closing credits, special thanks were given to a church in the Chicago area.)
This is a decent family movie, with no graphic violence, sex, or cursing, and the children watching will most likely not notice the glaring weaknesses in regards to the acting.
Once I resigned myself to viewing this as a dramatized Civil War "re-enactment", I was able to appreciate the film on a somewhat modest level.
While the overall story line holds great promise, the movie falls short by wielding a clumsy script and incongruous story line. One is constantly bashed over the head with the movie's many "points" in an unbelievable and unnatural line of dialogue in each scene as characters seem to line up in some shots, hovering in the background, waiting for their turn to speak to the main character as if they cannot see or hear the character before them. On top of that, the dialogue from some characters seems to come out of left field motivated by some unseen force having nothing to do with the environment, circumstances, or previous scene. Combined with the complete, utter lack of congruity between scenes and the overuse of narration, the movie constantly breaks the fourth wall and one has to force oneself back into the story over and over again. I'm not saying it's the worst movie ever made, but it's pretty darn close.
Our family and several friends watched DogJack.
The film is intelligent, thought-provoking, the music was great. script is well-written and the acting was good. The The actor who played Jed turned in a command performance as did most of the other actors. I am a big fan of Louis Gossett.
We had a meaningful discussion after the film. We talked about how life s so different today than it was 150 years ago for the young boys who were called to fight in the war. I am not normally a big fan of my kids movies but this was very watchable for my husband and myself and the kids thought it was one of the best films they'd seen in the past 2 years.
I would recommend this film to any family who wants to watch a meaningful film and not just rent a DVD as a babysitter for the kids.
This movie was so badly done I would not let my dog watch it. The acting and the writing were poorly done. Even the voice over with Lou Gossett Jr. could not salvage this lemon. Anyone who funded this movie should get their money back. I know I wanted my dollar back from Redbox after viewing this one. Don't waste your time or money on this one. The plot was not consistent. I've seen better acting on local theater stages with amateur actors. The filming was also poorly done. So save yourself some money and rent something other than this movie!!!If this movie was based on a true story of a dog in the 102nd Pennsylvania as they claimed then he is probably rolling over in his grave at how they have soiled his heroic actions with a badly done movie. May he rest in peace because this movie needs to.
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