If the 3 hour and 49 minute Civil War epic "Gods and Generals" is any indication, the Union and the Confederate armies must have talked each other to death.
The movie has, at most, five scattered minutes of story addressing the political issues that split the nation in 1861. It has maybe 30 minutes of battle scenes and another 15 focused exclusively on Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's pneumonia.
The balance of the picture is spent on florid speeches, polemic pontifications and protracted prayers, extensively detailed attack plans, scene after scene exploring the marriages of its military icons, and passing mentions of slavery (which apparently no one in this Southern army actually favored), while largely ignoring the other more direct causes of the war.
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For all the buzz about alterations made to "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" for its 20th anniversary release, the impact of these changes is insignificant at best. With or without them, the film remains the kind of unabashed delight that can make even the most cynical filmgoer feel like a kid wrapped up in the fantasy of it all.
Steven Speilberg tapped CGI technology to give the little hammer-headed, saucer-eyed, smoker's-voiced alien more life-like movements -- most notably in his desperate opening scene dash toward to his departing ship while the government man with jangling keys on his belt gives chase through the forest.
E.T. used to slide through the underbrush as if he was being pulled on tracks -- which he was, and the fact that it looked so fake became an awkward distraction in the first five minutes. Now E.T. rapidly lumbers on all fours like an ape. It may not sound like much, but believe me, it's a vast improvement.
Continue reading: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial Review
Take a look back at October's inaugural event.
The film is expected to continue without Mendes' involvement.