Two armies, one God that refused to take sides,
This review is from: Gods And Generals [DVD]  (DVD)
Based on the book Gods and Generals by Jeff Shaara, son of the late Micheal Shaara, whose Pulitzer Prize winning book The Killer Angels was the influence for the movie Gettysburg which was made a decade before this prequel, both movies written & directed by Ronald F. Maxwell with financial backing by Ted Turner. Stephen Lang who played the eccentric Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett in Gettysburg is given the privilege to play the great General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. Some may recall Lang from previous films due to this eccentric acting style, in films such as Avatar , Conan the Barbarian or The Hard Way. Here he is playing a more restricted style of eccentric, with a religious twist.
Gods & Generals tells use the story about what motivated the war, the rise of the confederacy under General Robert E.Lee, with the life & experiences of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson taking center piece to it all. As an American Civil War enthusiast, and Jackson being a General of the period that i really respect, for his tactical ability & great leadership. This film was an interesting insight into a side of him i never knew existed before, his strong religious beliefs. Stephen Lang's performance was great, and the highlight of the film for me was the fight in the Wilderness, where Jackson's corps catch the Union 11th corps with their pants down. Robert Duvall does a very competent job filling the shoes of Martin Sheen as General Robert E. Lee. Other actors from the previous films do appear in order to keep continuity, like the impressive (especially in the first film) Jeff Daniels who reprises his role as Lt. Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. While with it being 10 years between them, real life events effect the availability of the original cast members.
G&G's may not be full of action compared to Gettysburg, but the action sequences are well done & none the less a particular highlight when they appear, albeit not quite as exciting on the whole. As you'd expect with a historical film, it does rely heavily on the famous quotes used at the time, as you can see the cogs turning in the actors minds as they recite them word for word.
In conclusion, God's & General's is a nice historical insight into the build up of the events prior to Gettysburg, following General Jackson's carer. Civil War enthusiasts will get more out of it, as it may lack the constant action, along with it's quite slow pace with lots of dialogue with only a few well done action set pieces to break it up. Recommended.