If there is a film that is going to be new and innovative regarding the Civil War or battle of Gettysburg, chances are its director is going to be Robert Child, the man behind Gettysburg: The Boys in Blue & Gray, Gettysburg: Three Days of Destiny, and the very popular Lincoln and Lee at Antietam: The Cost of Freedom. When I interviewed him two years ago, he hinted at what possibly might be coming for the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg, which he will be tasked with directing and producing the official commemorative film for, titled, Gettysburg: Final Measure of Devotion, which I guess you could say will act as the capstone to his unofficial Gettysburg documentary trilogy. The actual film itself is slated to be released on Remembrance Day in November, on Blu-Ray and DVD. There is also plans of a broadcast on PBS next year, in addition to it hitting local theaters in the fall.
Just this past week, the official trailer and updated poster for Ron Maxwell’s Copperhead, which will hit theaters on June 28th, was released, much to the excitement of fans, who have waited nearly 10 years for another Civil War film from the director of Gettysburg and Gods and Generals. The trailer, amongst fans, has generated a lot of discussion and rave reviews. Also garnering excitement is the new movie poster, which I must say is much better than the original, and really captures and essence and intensity of what this film is about—the American flag backdrop was totally necessary, to convey the point that even with all the strife and how this country was torn apart, we were all Americans in the end. It also includes the tagline, “Patriot to some. Traitor to others.”, which is central to the main character of Billy Campbell, as well as the entire Copperhead political movement as a whole, due to their anti-war feelings.
This is not as long as my usual reviews, but because I did not watch the entire episode, I can only comment on what I saw. I don’t like to do this, but I will not have the time to watch the entire first episode of The Bible this week, and I wanted to post something while it is still relevant. This may be a breath of fresh air for my readers, especially when it comes to History Channel productions, but I did not hate this opening episode at all. In fact, it actually was decent. There are still plenty of little nuggets to poke fun at, and a few cringe moments, but overall, it was a pleasing effort for those who take the Bible as the literal word of God, and those who just like it as a good story. Some highlights that caught my attention are below:
I know I have not been able to blog much of late (only 10 posts in the last two months), but I just wanted to pass this milestone along to all of my loyal readers. This afternoon, From New York to San Francisco reached 500,000 total hits, this coming about two weeks shy of our third anniversary. As I have said many times, I have to thank those who have shared the links to different articles here to people all over the world. I never envisioned this many hits in such a short span of time when I made my first post on March 13, 2010. With so many topics being covered here, I suppose I have found my niche with different readers, who may be coming for opinion on sports, movies, television, and history, and of course, some exclusive coverage and interviews dealing with the latest Civil War movies. I have been so busy with classes and coaching hockey that my free time is limited, but as we near the spring and summer, I hope to be able to write more. There are some exciting months ahead with Copperhead being released June, and also a slew of other events due to the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg being right around the corner. Once again, thank you very much!
Just one little observation of the History Channel’s upcoming miniseries bonanza, The Bible, which will be premiering on March 3rd. Part of me says this network has learned their lesson after the immense success of Hatfields & McCoys, but the other part of me says this is still the History Channel, and is destined to make some kind of glorious mistake. No, we are not talking about the guy who portrayed General Barksdale in Gettysburg looking like an Elvis Presley impersonator, or even their obsession with that family of inbred, toothless hicks sailing around swamps in the middle of nowhere blasting alligator brains out with shotguns. We are talking about something that matters to a lot of people, and that is the treatment of the greatest story ever written, which is sacred to hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, I am not going to pick apart the teaser or even the extended look trailer scene-by-scene, but something that caught my eyes and ears was the portrayal of Jesus and his apostles (aside from the guy playing Moses looking like the lead singer of a death metal band).
Some people were expecting the worst from National Geographic’s Killing Lincoln, for two reasons: Bill O’Reilly’s book of the same title was littered with inaccuracies, and the production team of Ridley and Tony Scott, along with director Adrian Moat, recently produced one of the most inept and historically insulting documentaries ever made, Gettysburg, back in 2011. Hosted and narrated by Tom Hanks, this is a docudrama which surpasses Gettysburg, distances itself slightly from the book, yet at the same time, does not adequately deliver the entertainment one would expect here, which I will address later. Billy Campbell, whose other Civil War-era film, Copperhead, is slated to be released in June, does a decent job as President Abraham Lincoln. It would be absolutely unfair to compare him to Daniel Day-Lewis, so on his own he is fine. The performance is very calm, quiet, and subdued and I have no problem with the voice he used, which is not accurately high-pitched, but also is not the typical Hollywood deep voice we have heard over the years. The production team used Campbell and his talents as best as they could. However, considering that this film is about killing Lincoln, and Lincoln dies just after the midway point, it did leave a lot to be desired.
Ah, the wonders of Hollywood: Billy Campbell goes from playing a stubborn farmer diametrically opposed to Abraham Lincoln in the soon-to-be-released Copperhead, to portraying the president himself, in the upcoming television film, Killing Lincoln, airing on National Geographic next month, based on a book by Bill O’Reilly. This will serve as the network’s first ever scripted drama, while there will be some narration, provided by Tom Hanks. Though I have only seen the trailer, released yesterday, I must say that my hopes now are a little bit higher than they were when this project was first announced, mainly because the same producer (Ridley Scott) and director (Adrian Moat) gave us that brutally awful Gettysburg documentary for the History Channel last year. I shuddered to think at the same duo handling another portion of American history. However, after reading the script (which was current at the time I read it) several months ago, and because Nat-Geo is still reputable (at least more so than the other network), I will be willing to give this a shot, and them the benefit of the doubt.
With the numbers in from the opening weekend of Lincoln, the film appears to have grossed over $21 million, which is a decent pull for a historical epic (even though I did expect a higher gross), especially when you consider that it went up against the opening of the latest Twilight movie, and Skyfall is still going strong. If you go to IMDb and check out the current rating the film sits at, it is an 8.3 which has steadily climbed at least one point each day since it’s release on Friday after hovering between 7.8 and 7.9 in the days following the limited release on November 9th. I would now like to break down the ratings even further, and by clicking on the user amount located below the rating on the film’s page, we can see how the ratings got sorted by age and gender, which can tell us a lot about a film’s success.
What would Halloween season be without a ghost tour at a historic site? Though we at the Proprietary House have been sizing down the paranormal events of late, to focus more on history, we continue our annual tradition once again this October, in welcoming world-renowned psychic Jane Doherty to our establishment, to conduct her highly anticipated tours through the halls of the now 250-year-old mansion, the former resident of Benjamin Franklin’s son William. The house has been home to many intriguing characters, including Franklin, who served as Royal Governor of the colony until his arrest at the house in 1776. After that, it was owned by a man named John C. Rattoon, an early mayor of the city of Perth Amboy, and a British spy during the Revolutionary War. Following him came Richard Woodhull, who added an adjoining building and turned it into a hotel named the Brighton in the early 1800′s. Later still came Matthias Bruen, a self-made millionaire merchant, who attempted to restore the hotel to its former glory in 1817, after some years of disrepair. When the mansion was no longer owned by the Bruen family, it served a multitude of tasks, including an orphanage, retirement home for Presbyterian ministers, and then a hospital for officers after the battle of Gettysburg in the Civil War. The house then went through many periods of neglect and resurrection, and is currently owned by the State of New Jersey’s Division of Parks and Forestry, while being maintained by the Proprietary House Association and a board of trustees, of which I am a member.