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  • laurieO7622 April 2011
    Water For Elephants takes us back in time, not just because it is set in the 30's but also because the movie is filmed with such quality and attention to detail, it is very much like movies used to be made. No reliance on CGI or profanity to make up for lack of imagination either. The dialog is crisp and the film adheres very much to the spirit of the book, even if things were consolidated or omitted for the film.

    The cinematography is lush and if the film doesn't win an award for it, it will be a travesty.

    And the performances are wonderful. Christoph Waltz is captivating as a complex character and Reese Witherspoon walks a fine line (no pun intended) between the role of a dutiful wife and that of a survivor. But it is Robert Pattinson who delivers a range of emotion not seen from him before. He is understated and again reminds me of actors of old - Gary Cooper specifically. He plays a gentleman and a scholar but also shows passion and intensity. Any doubt viewers might have had on his abilities as an actor are wiped away, as he more than holds his own in scenes with two Oscar winners.

    This is a must-see movie for anyone wanting to see more quality films and less action-packed/violence ridden/computer enhanced drivel at the theaters. Bravo!
  • Water For Elephants got released here a full week ahead of the US and first let me indulge in the joy of being able to review such a highly anticipated film before my fellow American film-loving counterparts.

    The film completely fulfilled my expectations. It is a well scripted, meticulously shot and finely acted period drama, the likes of which are increasingly less to come by at the movies these days. A big congratulations to all those involved with the production for having the confidence to delve into this venture. Actually I am very curious about its box-office. Last year was a surprisingly profitable year for adult dramas and if that is any indication, this fine film should continue the same trend.

    Water For Elephants really impresses with the production design, atmosphere, costumes and stunts. Most of the time I felt like I was watching a classic film made during the studio era; it looked that authentic and faultless. The three main actors all seem satisfied for having such meaty parts and deliver more than satisfactory performances. Robert Pattinson shines and proves that he is capable as a serious actor. Reese Witherspoon has always been a true professional and here with her stunts demonstrates that again. She also fits surprisingly well to the 1930s platinum blonde beauty type. Christopher Waltz is a wonderful actor and here it becomes very clear that his success in Inglorious Basterds was not a one-off. The story is very emotional and while it touches the heart romantically, it also manages to lay down a heretofore unseen dark aspect of old era circus entertainment in particular and also crowd entertainment as a whole. I almost wished for a three hour epic after it ended; it left me wanting more. The whole thing was really interesting.

    All in all a wonderful and deeply satisfying experience at the movies, well worth every dime. Go see it so that adult dramas of this caliber (in terms of star power, production budget and subsequent attention to detail) could continue to be made.
  • OK, I'll try to tell you a bit of what I thought about "Water for Elephants", without spoiling anything. I have not read the novel (even though I plan to do it now) so I'm only offering my views on the movie.

    First of all: It's amazingly beautiful. The costumes and sets are gorgeous, the cinematography is exquisite, the animals are cute (especially Rosie the elephant) and the three leads are very easy on the eyes as well.

    Robert Pattinson was actually quite good. This was a surprise to me, since I didn't really think he was anything special in any of the Twilight movies or "Remember Me". He looked very appropriate for the time the movie was set in, and even though I love Emile Hirsch (who auditioned for Jacob too) I'm confident that Robert was the best choice there was for this role, it was perfect for him. Hal Holbrook was also very fitting for the role of older Jacob. The two actors really made me believe that they were the same person in different stages of his life.

    Reese Witherspoon was okay. She looked beautiful, was charming and cute but it felt like something was missing - however, I can't think of any other actress I would have liked better in the role, so I came to the conclusion that it was probably the character Marlena that was a little bland, not Reese.

    But the true star of this movie was Christoph Waltz. I may be a bit biased since I loved him in "Inglorious Basterds", but he was even more perfect in this movie. His portrayal of August was amazing, he made him likable and interesting and I was always compelled by his scenes. The character reminded me a lot of Miles in "King Kong" (played by Jack Black), a character that also wanted fame and success more than anything and used questionable and even cruel methods to get it. He was terrifying in some scenes too, but always believable. Also, in the beginning of the movie i really felt the chemistry between August and Marlena, which made the character even more interesting; however, I did feel like Jacob and Marlena had chemistry too, and in my opinion this way it was more realistic (both men loved her and she also cared about both of them).

    I loved the movie, and I really recommend it to everyone. I would sincerely give it 10/10 stars. Of course there was some parts of the movie I didn't like (particularly towards the end of it), but overall it was a magical, spectacular and epic period movie, and I can't wait to see it again!
  • waldbeer15 April 2011
    When I read Water for Elephants the book, I knew the film would be difficult to make and I was ready to be disappointed. Surprisingly, they managed to capture most of it in picture. Some things were lost on the way, of course, the most unfortunate one being old Jacob's struggles as an old man who refuses to retire from life before his time actually comes. Other details that made the book a masterpiece seemed more suitable for a book so they were not missed, mainly because the core story was there to its finest details.

    The reenactment of America in Great Depression was good, and the circus was everything you would expect it to be. Such chaos and life and acts and performers and runes and animals all mashed up in a beautiful lively atmosphere. Scenes flowed one after the other smoothly and nothing seemed out of place. This is a hard thing to accomplish when it comes to adaptations. Most of them end up looking like a slide show of pictures or events taken from the book (see Hardwicke's Twilight for a perfect example). This film was a success.

    The acting was another noteworthy aspect. People will have to acknowledge Robert Pattinson as a first class actor after watching this; and Waltz will be the go-to person for the upcoming psycho roles. He just digs it, I think and he creates the most intimidating gentleman on screen. Witherspoon looked average to me as Marlena, but I may be biased so I won't go into it much. All in all, it would be bizarre if at least one out of the three did not get an Oscar nod.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Okay, firstly as I guy I did not think this movie was going to be all that great and interesting for me. I was wrong. The cinematography, costumes, score and acting all added up to an interesting and quite lovely spectacle. I suggest everyone should give it a go. You might be as surprised as I was. I'm going to try to avoid any major spoilers so I'll keep it very vague on the story.

    The movie kind of keeps you guessing which was its going to go for the characters. Be it happy ever after or big disaster. I could genuinely feel the admiration and respect between Jacob (Pattinson) and Tai (the elephant) which is essential and central to the story. Which brings me to Pattinson. He was absolutely very good in this movie. He was different to previous characters he has played. He was warm and caring yet a strong character which is a difficult balance. I mentioned the connection with Tai was believable and the same is true with Marlena (Witherspoon). She also did a fine job. Her circus tricks should be commended at the very least. Waltz was very good as the "bad guy". He just delivers that kind of role brilliantly. When Pattinson and Waltz are on screen together you do not feel that one is less impressive than the other. That is why I was pleasantly surprised by Pattinson. He has shown in this movie that he is a fine actor with a lot more potential and I question anyone who says differently's motivations. (Yes, he is Edward Cullen..but its time to let that go people and give the guy some major credit for his acting)

    All in all. I thought it was a charming movie.
  • I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. Without being trite and redundant, it explores timeless and universal themes such as finding one's destiny and freedom, life choices, love, and jealousy, put in an interesting setting, that is the circus world -- the early 1900s when the US prohibition and depression were taking place -- which is nicely recreated on screen (by production designer Jack Fisk who's mostly known for his work with Terence Malick and David Lynch). Based on Sara Gruen's novel, this very original story is beautifully told, uses classical film-making techniques -- its camera moves, staging, lighting, pacing, usage of 'live' animals, stunts and special effects -- and well acted -- Robert Pattison comes across as a decent lead actor and not just a pretty face; Reese Witherspoon, very convincing as the star circus girl, doing some of her own stunts; however Christoph Waltz's performance stands out the most as he maintains the dynamic among all the main characters and fuels the drama. It's nice and refreshing to see a classically-made-and-looking film coming out of Hollywood.
  • Readers, fear not. This is one adaption that lives up to the book.

    Water for Elephants is pure beauty. Despite the fact that it takes place during the Depression, it makes you almost wish you lived during the '30s.

    One reason is the costumes. They are wonderfully done, as well as the makeup. Another is the eye candy. No, I'm not talking about Robert Pattinson(though he looks as gorgeous as ever). I'm talking about the breathtaking cinematography, courtesy of Rodrigo Prieto.

    While the leads(Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz) all turn in GREAT performances, the real star here is Tai the elephant. She plays Rosie, the newest addition to The Benzini Bros. Most Spectacular Show on Earth, who is brought in in hopes of taking The Benzini Bros. circus to a new level(particularly to the level of Ringling Bros.).

    As per usual, there are quite a few changes that may or may not irritate the readers. It all depends on the person. One that I felt was an improvement upon the book, however, was the combining of August and Uncle Al. I honestly didn't miss Al one bit.

    Water for Elephants is a beautiful, enchanting, mesmerizing must-see.
  • Having read a few reviews of this depression era set novel by Sara Gruen, I was apprehensive to see the film. The readers and critics had said it was too depressing and didn't end well. I'm happy to say the film is not bad at all. It captures the mood of the 1930s, and we the audience really get a sense of what it must have been like to live in that time in history. (Yes we went through our own depression but it was quite different and much more difficult back then.) The film centers around Jacob (Robert Pattinson) a student of veterinary science at Cornell, who gives up his education and runs away after his parents die in a car accident. He stumbles upon a traveling circus, where he is taken in by riff raffs and other stowaways. They have all become a part of the circus ensemble in order to make ends meet. Jacob eventually meets their ringleader August, played by Christolph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds) and his beautiful wife Marlena (Reese Witherspoon). August takes Jacob under his wing initially, but later Jacob learns his true colors. I do not wish to give away too much of the storyline but something tells me people will like this movie as much as the book if not more. I think the film makers have managed to make a film about the depression era without it being depressing. The film has an epic feel to it. It's, emotional, inspiring, romantic, and overall it makes for a very good drama. Even the ending is uplifting. The cast is wonderful as well. Robert Pattinson holds his own against two Oscar winners. It's great to see Reese Witherspoon back in action and in top form. There aren't enough great things I can say about Christoph Waltz. He balances the line between being dangerous and comedic with razor sharp precision, and is very intimidating…his performance is brilliant. It's great to see a film with real sets, and gritty and flawed characters, rather than imaginative CG rendered places and creatures. Even the train, (where a large part of the film takes place) feels alive with all its moving parts…it has a personality of its own. It's a surprising film from director Francis Lawrence whose previous films include "Constantine" and "I am Legend." It's clear that the team he works with has a great sense of capturing a story's mood, time, and place. "Water for Elephants" is a beautiful, moving, and entertaining film. Go see it!
  • Critically acclaimed novel "Water for Elephants" written by Sara Gruen was a New York Times #1 Best Seller in 2007 and now has taken a turn towards cinema with the help of Director Francis Lawrence ("I Am Legend"). The film's biggest draw comes from Robert Pattinson ("Twilight") after his tween vampire film following success, however, the real star of the show is Academy Award Winner Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Bastards"). Reese Witherspoon ("Walk the Line") stars as the film's leading lady hitting her stride late in the film. Hal Holbrook ("All The President's Men") opens up the film with the portrayal of present day Jacob Janowski found in a parking lot outside of the circus who begins telling the story of his early years connecting to one of the biggest circus disasters in history. Pattinson plays the younger Jacob, a veterinary student at Cornell whose his life is turned upside down. He drops out of school deciding to go jump a train. He realizes that he has joined the ranks of the Benzini Brothers Circus changing his life forever. He is thrown into the harsh reality of the Big Top meeting a man named August (Waltz) who reluctantly gives him a job working with the animals. Jacob becomes infatuated with August's wife Marlena (Witherspoon) who is a part of the lead act in the show that develops into a friendship between man, woman and a majestic elephant. However, life is a battle and the story is extremely dramatic leaving everyone's life at risk with August's alcoholic greedy rage on their doorstep.

    Cristoph Waltz does what he does best with his most recent interpretation of a complicated ill-willed bad guy that audiences grow to hate, however, the depth of his performances make him memorable. He is able to give life to the cold soul of August making the viewer root for his demise along with his change of heart. Pattinson shows that he is more than just a tween king vampire, however, his full potential is not unleashed. The real star of the show is the majestic elephant herself (Rosie) and the character's journey to protect her hitting the right notes in the second half.

    The magic and magnificence of the film is lost within the overly dramatic, lengthy exposition. The melodramatic backdrop of the film is omnipresent leaving little room for comic relief and the growth of the beautiful creatures to coexist. The most disappointing part of the film is Witherspoon's odd character development making her very plain until halfway through the film. At the same time it seems like an eternity once the elephant finally enters the film showing an inkling of hope, while the love triangle becomes childish, cliché and eventually annoying.

    Overall, the film has an average script that is aided by the performances of its actors. It is hard to overlook the melodrama as Waltz controls the show, which is actually more about life and relationships than the circus.
  • How to summarize this movie? How does one write about the magic you experienced? I do not know where to begin. The movie took me by storm, it was so fantastically well-made, colors, scenes, it captured one and brought one back to 1930 century magical, but oh so dark circus life. Robert impressed in his role and enchanted me once again. By his side was Reese as spectacular as she always is, beautiful, seductive and fragile. Their forbidden love and passion was captivating. But the movies big star in my opinion was Rosie, the stunning elephant. Could not help but to wish for my own Rosie.

    The movie was wonderful in every way, romance, passion, action, tragedy, joy, yes, everything you can imagine. A different story (although it starts as the Titanic and has a similar feel) that enchanted me. I still can't stop thinking about the movie.

    Must be seen!
  • dscroggs422 April 2011
    Although the title of this review pretty much sums it up, in order to post a review i must include 10 lines of text. So here goes. This movie starts out with a similar feel to Titanic like many have said. It takes you back 70+ years and takes you through and incredible journey of passion, adventure, and just life in general. For every up there is a down, for every laugh a cry. You find yourself full of emotion at so many points in this movie it's hard to not get chills at times. The ending is well written well acted out and well, like the rest of the movie is just perfect. How this is only @ a 6.3 rating currently is beyond me, hopefully more people will take the time to post this movie was a solid 8.5 in my opinion and is a must see.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    As a standalone feature the movie may have been successful, but as most movies these days go, the screenplay was adapted from the source material, and inevitably left out some key elements.

    The largest of these omissions was combining Uncle Al and August into one character. I didn't understand the reasoning behind it, and a lot of drama is lost. Christoph Waltz is a capable actor, but's it's hard to convincingly play the man who's greed and desperation runs the circus into the ground, and the tortured, schizophrenic man who's rage and cruelty drives his wife and friends away.

    Also I think that the entire theme of living during the late depression is largely glamorized and you never really sense how desperate the men are, and thus have a hard time believing the finale.

    I was also saddened by what happened to Walter and Camel in the book, but unmoved in the movie... the friendship had no build-up... they disliked one another then they were BFF's.

    The last omission was an understandable deviation from the book, but in it was so critical to the theme of the story that I missed it in the movie. I'm talking about the scenes in the nursing home where we see the shell of a man that Jacob became, and we're left feeling almost as helpless and depressed as him until he finally makes it to the circus in the end.
  • This was one of the oldest stories in the book -- a new man gets in between the relationship of a husband and a wife. But for "Water for Elephants," this story was transported to the era of the Great Depression in the US where a young vet student joins a traditional big top circus, led by its perfectionist ringleader and his star performer wife.

    I guess period set pieces like this would only appeal to certain people. I did not find the time or the setting particularly interesting. The presence of the the titular elephant Rosie was engaging though, as the beast actually seemed to emote. Christoph Waltz does another one of his charming sadist roles as August, the ringleader. Reese Witherspoon impressed me with some of her gymnastic skills as Marlena, but overall her performance was rather bland.

    Most of the audience attention was on Robert Pattinson to see if he can step out of Edward's shadow in the Twilight movies. Interestingly, he plays a character named Jacob in this film. He has very distinct facial features which makes it hard for him to disappear into a role. He was able to show more variety here, and he looked right for the time period. It is still very much in the love story genre though, so his acting style is generally the same.

    So the final verdict is: If you like love stories, you might like this movie. If you like the circus, you might like this movie. Despite all the rave reviews I have been reading about it, I found this film rather average because of the very familiar and therefore predictable storyline.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Jacob Jankowski (Robert Pattinson) has a bright future ahead of him: with the Great Depression ravaging through America he has the chance at a good job as a veterinarian and a stable life. This all changes when he discovers that his parents have been in a car accident and that he is illegible to own their house. He tries to renew his life's purpose and by chance comes across the circus troupe of the Bezeni Brothers where he meets the cruel owner August (Christoph Waltz) and dazzling Marlene (Reese Witherspoon).

    Titanic on a train: you would be forgiven if this was your estimation of the film based on previews and for the most part you would be right. Based on the award-winning novel of the same name, Water for Elephants tells the story of a man who has to redirect his life after it is derailed from some unfortunate events. The story is told in a linear fashion and it is a pity that not more is made of the idea of reality vs. illusion which is a noticeable subject in the odd dialogue interchange. While this concept has more in liking with who a character really is and what information they know but do not let on, the concept is nevertheless never fully developed and ultimately explained by the characters themselves. Nevertheless, other themes present themselves in more subtle and interesting ways such as the images of railroads and water allowing the experience to not be all dictated. In the end, the film feels like a reworking of James Cameron's Titanic with a new setting and a new cast, but it most likely will not have the same cultural impact.

    Romance becomes pivotal to the development of characters and the respective actors prove capable. Robert Pattinson will obviously be the centre of talk for the film and he does well for himself here. If you did not feel that Remember Me was a step in the right direction from a Twilight-esque future, then this film will surely give you the impression that Pattinson at least has the potential to mature his acting in a commendable manner. Witherspoon does an adequate job in her portrayal of Marlene and wriggles in workable chemistry between herself and Pattinson, but ultimately she does little to truly shine beyond her male counterparts. But experience is what steals the show with Waltz exemplifying a character who can pull you in with his charisma and idealistic hopes but who can also repulse you with his cruelty. Waltz is indeed the strongest link in the acting department but do not let his performance undermine the rest of the cast, especially the supporting roles who help create a holistically believable set of characters.

    All of this is strengthened by some decent costume design and film direction which brings every scene to life gracefully. There is some questionable CGI use for animals towards the end and the environment does not get quite the showing it could but the film feels balanced and admirable in portrayal of one man's journey of self-discovery.

    Sex and nudity are, at most, hinted at and language is mild at best. There is some violence mostly in the regard of fist fighting but also the rare off-screen violence towards an animal.

    As mentioned earlier, Titanic on a train could very well be an apt explanation of the film. There is thankfully enough substance to allow the story to craft its own image but only just. This coupled with some slight CGI mishap and a narrative that does not always allow one to ponder on certain ideas, are not enough to truly hurt the overall quality. The story is lovely; the acting is strong; and the filming is delicate in what it offers. It may not be the Titanic of the time, but it is hardly a bumpy ride either.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Based on the New York Times best-selling novel penned by Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants is set during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The movie plunges you into an era where travelling circuses and big tops were all the rage. Jacob Jankowski (Pattinson,) a veterinary student at Cornell, learns rapidly how life can change with the blink of an eye when his parents die in an accident. Alone with nowhere to go and no money Jacob jumps on a train, which turns out to be owned by the Benzini Brothers, a travelling circus. First seen as an intruder by the owner of the circus, August (cleverly played by Christoph Waltz,) his veterinary skills quickly come in handy and help him find his own place in the circus. When Jacob meets August's wife Marlena (played by Reese Witherspoon,) he falls under her charm and soon has to deal with the furious temper of a crazed husband.

    Ladies and gentleman prepare to be wooed; this is Robert Pattinson like you've never seen him before. From laughter to extreme frustration, Pattinson displays a wide array of emotions, showing his worth as an actor. Witherspoon and Waltz also show their amazing Oscar winning capabilities in this movie. As a secondary character, Hal Holbrook plays the part of an older Jacob Jankowski marvellously well. In the fashion of great Hollywood love stories, the transition between "old Jacob" and "young Jacob" is cleverly played.

    Water for Elephants is beautifully shot. Francis Lawrence manages to bring an entire era to life on the silver screen. You'll go through a roller-coaster of emotions, from laughter to tears. For fans of the book, you will definitely not be disappointed, the screenplay written by Richard LaGravenese, stays true to the book.

    Definitely a must see! Water for Elephants is simply the most spectacular show on earth…
  • Warning: Spoilers
    First of all: Wow

    Second: Wow

    I saw the movie today at a pre screening and let me just say, this movie simply just took my breathe away. I was already in tears by the first scene! This is an emotional, warm movie and I loved every second of it of course there are some really funny scenes in it too but since I don't wanna post spoilers I will add a few under the cut but one of the best scenes has to do with cats ;). It is so beautiful, they have really captured the era and the feeling of a circus.

    This movie seem to be all Robert Pattinson (Jacob), I mean come on!! The footage of Rob is to die for. If i could picture frame every scene he is in i would. He is simply amazingly beautiful in this movie, like we didn't already know that?!

    How about Robs acting then. The big question ;) I could see so much change in his acting and so much progress. It made me sort of proud in a weird way. I hope this movie will finally be the one that makes the movie business see him as something more than Edward Cullen. In the beginning of the movie i could see some Edward acting in certain face expressions and further in I could draw parallels with Tyler in Remember Me and sometimes I couldn't tell if he was acting or if he was simply being Rob. In some scenes I could see him charming fans at official events or just being laid back as he always is. Like if he shined know what I mean? I think all of you will see his amazing change, he have learned so much on the way.

    He has developed so much!

    To make this a fair review I think I would have to mention the rest of the cast.

    Hal Holbrook (Old Jacob) is the sweetest little man ever. Totally awesome for the short time we see him on screen. I had a really hard time not crying when he was on. The opening scene is so emotional.

    Reese Witherspoon (Marlena) I didn't expect anything besides good acting. She is so very sweet and on film she and Rob has an awesome connection and chemistry. Almost felt as if I could see the playfulness in the movie that they shared during their WFE press junket interviews.

    Christoph Waltz (August) have to admit i haven't seen any movie from him before but he plays his part gracefully. Scary man with great ambitions for his circus.

    Tai (Rose) the elephant. I LOVED HER!! I loved how adorable the scenes between her and Rob are. You can see the love Rob has for that elephant. Their scenes are the best!!

    As for the other cast...they have made a great casting for this movie. Everyone plays their part so good.

    Found a lack of depth in the movie like the book has, but i guess it is impossible to add all features from the book in to 2 hours of film. Overall nothing that really is bothering.

    About the music.. I must admit that i didn't notice the score at all so i suppose it really worked in the movie. A lot of time typical music in many scenes.

    Many have asked me on twitter if i think this movie is Oscars material. To be honest, I would love it to get an Oscar nod cause the scenography and costumes are so beautiful (!!) but, my answer will be no, at least in the bigger categories. It's not that i don't think the movie is extremely good but because i don't think the movie has the depth or the complexity that the Oscar winning movies normally have. But if i am wrong i will be so happy of course.

    I wish all would see this movie. I don't think it will disappoint many.


    The sex scene is something i have been asked about. Well, it's short and pretty much non existent. As far as anything naked in this movie, you will not find it.

    Funniest scenes: When August tells Jacob to feed the cats. I laughed so much when Rob gets scared and falls. Also the scene after Robs party with Barbra and the crew and he wakes up in full clown gear. I am telling you nippelgate Rob all the way hahhahaha!!!

    When Rob gets tears in his eyes when Rose is being hit my heart broke. *tears*

    We also get to hear Rob speak polish in the movie which is really cool. And for me as a non polish person i think it sounds genuine :D

    I will not write the ending even if this is spoilers cause I don't want to ruin it for those who haven't read the book.

    The ONLY thing in the movie that didn't have the high quality as the rest of the movie was the scene when the animals are let loose among the circus audience. Looked to much as computer work than the real thing
  • It is just that awful. The only reason i watched the whole show was because of the high rating here. There wasn't any chemistry between Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattison. Although it wasn't Reese Witherspoon's fault. Why some of the reviewers think Robert Pattison gave a marvelous performance is really a wonder. He's not acting, he was just being himself. Just search for his interviews on youtube if you don't believe. The storyline is bland (if there was any), other than Christoph Waltz and Jim Norton, i don't feel any of the other characters believable. Film dragged on for too long. How i hope the animals at the end would just kill them all. And like some others said, the elephant was (or still is) definitely tortured to perform tricks like that. Shame on the stars who performed in this film. If you enjoy being tortured by a slow and pointless story, then this is the film for you. Otherwise, there are better films out there. I wish i could take back that 2 hours of my life or at the very least not trusting the high rating from reviewers here. Oh, another thing, what cinematography were people talking about? Everything were closeups. I didn't see a single spectacular view.
  • When an old man is found wandering in the parking area of the Circus Vargas, his owner invites him to come to his office to call the Green Haven nursing home to take him back home. The old man tells his name, Jacob Jankowski, and explains that he worked in the Benzini Bros. Circus in 1931. The owner is curious about it since in 1931 there was the most famous disaster in history of circuses in the Benzini Circus and asks Jacob to tell what happened.

    In 1931, during the Great Depression, the Polish American Jacob (Robert Pattinson) lives with his beloved parents in a small ranch and studies veterinary in the Cornell University. During his final exams, his parents die in a car accident. Jacob learns that he is homeless and without any money since his parents used their house to get a loan for his studies.

    Jacob leaves his town and jumps in a train in movement without destination to seek a job. Soon he finds that this is the Benzini Brothers Circus train and he finds a job cleaning the animals' excrement from the wagons. When the unstable and violent owner of the traveling circus, August (Christoph Waltz), learns that Jacob is a veterinary, he hires him to train his attraction, the elephant Rosie. August and his bodyguard Blackie (Scott MacDonald), throw workers that complain off the train in movement to get rid of them. Meanwhile Jacob meets August's wife and lead attraction Marlena (Reese Witherspoon), he immediately falls in love with her. Jacob gets closer to Marlena and soon he discovers that she is also in love with him, but she fears August.

    "Water for Elephants" is a beautiful romance developed in the Great Depression with the story of a youngster that loses his beloved parents and joins a circus by chance. He finds love, but also the illusion of the circus and the violence of an unstable man. The lead cast is composed by the excellent Christoph Waltz, Reese Witherspoon and a surprisingly good Robert Pattinson besides the lovely elephant Rosie. The art direction is also very beautiful in the recreation of 1931 costumes and sets. My vote is eight.

    Title (Brazil): "Água Para Elefantes" ("Water for Elephants")
  • Apparently 'Water for Elephants' was a very popular book when it was published. It is also apparent that the more popular a book is, the quicker its screen adaptation gets produced. All we as viewers and fans can hope for is a script, production, and acting body that gives the book the attention it deserves. Now I haven't read the book but for what it's worth, I think Francis Lawrence and company gave it their best shot.

    Since I didn't read the book, I can't attest to its congruency with the film. However, the screenplay seemed well-written though quite straightforward. If the book was nuanced with symbolism, such nuances were lost on me during the film. The love triangle mixed with animal rights/humanitarianism makes for a fine story but it is one with a vast and well-trodden history and wears thin on a cinemaphile such as myself.

    The good news is, for fans of the book, there was definitely adequate attention paid to the production value and acting. The cinematography was deliciously crisp and the lighting fantastic. Overall, this allowed me to forget the few scenes that seemed oddly cut. As for the acting, I came into the theater expecting to have fuel added to my hate-fire for that pale, glistening vampire from Twilight. To my glorious surprise, Robert Pattinson shows that he has skills when not covered in white powder. I look forward to seeing what he can do in the future. Reese Witherspoon is maturing into a beautiful, seasoned actress and her experience shows. Unfortunately, I haven't enjoyed Christoph Waltz since Inglorious Basterds and this movie is no exception. I don't know whether he fit the physical profile of August to a tee or not, but I think I could have introduced a circus better than his bearded self.

    All in all, whether you are a fan of the book or want an interesting perspective on a certain lifestyle of the depression era, Water for Elephants is worth seeing once. Though, you may want to wait for it to come out on video.
  • Remember when movies were glamorous (and not in 3-D)... when the stars were beautiful, and no one had to fornicate on screen for you to know they were walking on clouds or heart-achingly in love? Remember when quiet, wordless scenes could make tears well up in your eyes? Well, whoever may say "They don't make em like they used to" hasn't seen "The Painted Veil" or this beautiful film, "Water for Elephants". This is old-style adventure and romance --Hollywood film-making at its finest!

    I didn't read the novel, but I am an avid fan of classic films, and an animal lover, and I highly recommend "Water for Elephants" for most anyone (who is at least in their teens.) The only critique I have of this movie is that it was too short! It was so beautiful and it carried me away so completely, I think I could have enjoyed it for another hour.

    "Water for Elephants" sweeps you into circus life of the 1930's, during the hungry and desperate times of the Great Depression. It's a nomadic, hard-working, and very sparse life. This 2nd class circus is a defined "family" though, and they live isolated on the sullied fringes of regular society.

    All three leads were truly luminous. Jacob and Marlena were both lovely and believable in their restrained, refined roles.

    Christoph Waltz, as August, proved again he can be an "enigma absolute." He is charismatic and likable; his enthusiasm and joy is literally tangible, but somewhere beneath, there seems to lurk something so horrific, there simply aren't words to name it.

    I have so much admiration for the magic of this Christoph Waltz after "Inglourious Basterds" and now, this new film. It is my great hope that he will choose his roles wisely and with delicacy, so that we can continue to relish in his talents for many years to come.

    My virtual hat is off! Off to the writer, cinematographer, set director, art director, director, editors, costume designer, and everyone involved. "Water for Elephants" is a can't-help-but-watch-it-again movie masterpiece with music by talented James Newton Howard that will make you tap your feet one minute and then want to cry the next.

    Hal Holbrook, Paul Schneider, James Frain, Mark Povinelli, and more! Wow. What outstanding work by supporting actors, and what fine casting! Hal Holbrook EASILY was old Jacob to Robert Pattinson's young Jacob. That's so hard to do, and yet, it was so easily done here.

    The animal actors were first-class, too; Silver Star, Rosie, and Queenie were all achingly touchable and sweet.

    Romantic, sweeping, frightening and sometimes violent --this film is TRUE-to-life while still being BIGGER-than-life.

    Its tag line is "Life is the most spectacular show on earth", and once you've seen the film, it's the perfect statement.

    So yes, go ahead and compare it to any of the old-style Hollywood grand classics. It deserves the acclaim and the adoration. I'll go see it again while it's still on the big screen!
  • I have no intention of seeing this film at any time, as I have seen the footage reported in the UK of the cruelty used by the trainers with electric shock probes and bull-hooks to train the elephant used in this film,(and others, including a baby). Training them to do feats which are not natural for an elephant to perform by shocking them. The elephants can be heard screaming in pain when they are shocked, even though the under-cover film is interspersed with comments from the studio that, 'no cruelty was used - they are not abused animals - only rewards and kindness are used to train them'. The baby has a bull-hook used against the roof of its mouth just to teach it to stand up straight, it also cries out with pain when it is done. Disgusting people, including the stars who agree to make money from such a thing.I am also informing as many people as I can of the access available to the undercover film, so that they too can watch it and come to their own conclusion as to whether to watch this film or not. The 'stars' in this film should be requested to donate their massive fees to animal cruelty or elephant welfare charities. I will assume that this will not be posted on here, if the site is not interested in animal welfare. I await your verdict.
  • I saw the film in South Africa on Friday afternoon - The trailer was an attractive, appealing one which made the film look intriguing; promising a sweeping period story and an epic romance. "Water for Elephants" certainly isn't unwatchable. However, it lacks any serious emotional power, Robert Pattinson (so effectively cast in the "Twilight" movies) is a good looking, and interesting looking, guy, but he definitely isn't a great actor. Pattinson fails to create a three dimensional character. One never sees what is going on in Jacob's head, because Pattinson isn't capable of projecting internal emotions. Reese Witherspoon - who can act - is miscast. Christopher Waltz - who was really well cast in "Inglourous Basterds" is certainly entertaining to watch and I would attribute some of the failings of his colorful character to the script rather than his acting ability.

    The "chocolate box" cinematography is pleasant, colorful and sometimes atmospheric, rather than brilliant, and the film never really gets into top gear. Like its leading man, it's nice looking, but lacking in real substance. The narrative structure is also lumpy, and the story doesn't flow naturally. The best acting in the picture is done by Hal Holbrook and Paul Schneider in relatively small roles. But, to be honest, Rosie the elephant is easily the most endearing character in the film. While the film was disappointing and is certainly not an out and out flop, the story has been dumbed-down to appeal to a teenage demographic. It's got no real sexual or romantic heat. But, funny enough, I think youngsters will enjoy it. Especially teenage girls. I just hoped for so much more. No wonder 20th Century Fox are keeping it away from the critics for as long as possible, and opening it in a few smaller territories before the States. It ain't going to pick up sparkling reviews.

    Don't think I hated it though, I just expected and hoped for so much more. The film's ending is a wee bit anti-climactic, but then the romantic part of the storyline is so predictable that it could hardly have ended any other way. I was, however, touched - little tears even welled up in my eyes - by the scene involving the horse's tragic demise, and a scene involving Rosie being hurt by Waltz's August. The costumes and period details are good, (although things sometimes look a wee bit too glamorous considering the milieu it plays out in), but the dialog and body language of the actors feels too contemporary. I imagine, given the film's target demographic, and the marketing campaign - which is centered around Pattinson, that this was intentional.

    The story, while interesting enough (not surprising, since it is based on a popular novel), never really gathers an epic sweep, not is it ever intimate enough to compensate for this. Mostly, it just lacks the genuine romantic heat to succeed fully. There is virtually no erotic chemistry or tension between Pattinson and Witherspoon. So serious, passionate adult cinema-goers looking for intelligent, emotionally resonant fare will be disappointed, but maybe it will work for "Twilight" fans, if you know what I mean. The teenage girls will like it, and their boyfriends won't mind it. I must say, though, as a 51-year-old adult male who works in the DVD industry, writes film reviews for local publications and watches over a 100 films a year on the big screen (plus another 400 or so on DVD), I am hardly the target demographic, so, depending on age, tastes and how seriously they take cinema-going, others might well enjoy it more than me. Those young viewers who are looking for lightweight escapism with a pretty, contemporary star in the male lead will probably forgive the film its lack of genuine dramatic tension, and a compelling narrative structure.

    Like I say, I really expected more from this film, but I guess so many of today's films are tailored to a teen aged democratic who lack the ability to concentrate for long periods of time, want fast editing and are not interested in seeing characters breathe or develop in interesting, realistic ways.
  • The film's creator, star and animal trainers have always insisted that Thailand was trained with the help of caring, marshmallows and positive learning. But in the days, the organization Animal Defenders International has released a film material that shows how elephants have been trained on "Have Trunk Will Travel", the company that owns Tai and many other animals used in filming. The movie is from 2005 and shows how elephants are subjected to electric shocks and how they are beaten during the "training".

    This is actually how the elephant got trained before the movie started. Please don't support this. Or download it illegal. Don't let the people that made this movie get the money.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Although his last "Twilight" movie hasn't even been released yet, Robert Pattinson is already struggling to forge a new screen persona for himself. Last year's "Remember Me" emerged as an abysmal failure for Pattinson, not to mention a shamelessly exploitative account of the 9/11 tragedy. Now, Pattinson is pairing up with Reese Witherspoon in "I Am Legend" director Francis Lawrence's "Water for Elephants" and it fares no better than "Remember Me." This glum, gritty 1930s' melodrama unfolds within the confines of a threadbare Depression-era traveling circus during Prohibition. The unsavory plot concerns animal cruelty, marital infidelity, and cold-blooded murder. The soiled romance between Pattinson and Witherspoon as illicit lovers generates minimal sizzle. Despite its evocative production values and historically-laden atmosphere, "Water for Elephants" qualifies as a creative misfire and this sour saga will leave a bad taste in your mouth.

    Disaster couldn't occur at a worse time for a Cornell University veterinary student, Jacob Jankowski (Robert Pattinson of "Vanity Fair"), as he is poised to take his final exam, graduate, and embark on a new life. Jacob has enjoyed a carefree, poverty-free life and his parents love him dearly. Without warning, the authorities inform our hero that his folks have died in an automobile accident. Worse, Jacob's parents were up to their eyeballs in debt. Actually, Jacob's father had taken out a loan to put him through college. Further, he had been a compassionate veterinarian who accepted food in lieu of cash as payment for bills from his clients. An incredulous Jacob emerges badly shaken by these revelations with little more than a suitcase that he disposes of almost immediately when he launches himself on his travels. He climbs aboard a train one evening and finds himself stowing away with a circus. Jacob winds up sweating and shoveling manure for his keep.

    Later, he meets Marlena (Oscar-winning actress Reese Witherspoon of "Vanity Fair") who is the resident platinum-blond equestrian beauty with her celebrated white stallion. Not only is she the star attraction under the big top, but she is also married to the man who runs the circus. August Rosenbluth (Christoph Waltz of "The Green Hornet") is the ringmaster and middle-aged owner of the Benzini Brothers Circus. He has spent his entire life in sawdust and knows all the tricks of the trade. When Marlena's horse goes lame, August shows an interest in Jacob for his obviously useful background in veterinary medicine. He invites Jacob to inspect Marlena's injured horse. She believes that her horse will recover, and August quietly convinces Jacob to agree with her. Reluctantly, behind Marlena's back, Jacob confides in August that the horse should be euthanized.

    The economically minded August doesn't want to shoot the horse that has made him a fortune. Instead, he wants to string the poor animal along until it can do nothing else than die. Later, Jacob intercedes on behalf of the steed and puts it out of its misery with a bullet to the head. Naturally, August is not happy. August's muscle-bound thugs tackle Jacob in a moving railroad box-car and threaten to hurl him off the speeding train. August explains that this practice is known as 'red lighting' and the victim usually dies a horrible death. Later, a couple of sympathetic characters meet their ill-fated fortune this way. August has second thoughts about Jacob and grants our protagonist clemency. Befriending Jacob, August takes him into his close circle of friends, eventually narrowing it down to his wife and himself.

    Meanwhile, August has bought an elephant named Rosie from a rival outfit. He gives Jacob custody of the beast. Now, rather than straddle a horse, Marlena will ride atop a 9,000-pound pachyderm. Of course, nothing goes well from the beginning. Rosie becomes hysterical and nearly stomps on the spectators before she rampages out of the tent. Jacob and his roustabout friend, Camel (Jim Norton of "Straw Dogs"), find the elephant in town feeding at a outdoor market. August goes berserk and beats the animal with an iron prod. Miraculously, the beast recovers and becomes a profitable part of the circus, attracting crowds. Inevitably, through no design of their own, Marlena and Jacob are drawn together, and they fall in love. Mind you, Camel has warned Jacob to keep his eyes off the boss' wife. The incident occurs at a nightclub that the police raid for selling contraband alcohol when August steps out. Marlena and Jacob elude the authorities, but arouse August's suspicions. Later, they run away from the circus, but August tracks them down. His thugs beat Jacob within an inch of his life. Jacob sneaks back to the circus with revenge on his mind. He slips into August's tent and poises a knife against the nape of an unconscious ringmaster's neck but he cannot summon the courage to kill him.

    You know a movie is in trouble when the most interesting character is a thoroughly loathsome villain who is justified in some of his actions. Oscar-winning actor Christoph Waltz marvelously portrays August Rosenbluth as a such sadistic dastard that you will cheer when he receives his comeuppance. Meanwhile, Pattinson and Witherspoon try to enliven characters who are not only wimps but also lack charisma. It is difficult to root for both the hero and heroine when they are such losers from the start. Adding to the woes of this terrible movie is the fact that it is wrapped around a tedious flashback so you know that nothing disastrous can occur to the protagonist since he has survived all the perils. Mercifully, "Bridges of Madison County" scribe Richard LaGravenese has synthesized various characters and incidents from Sara Gruen's New York Times best seller. Nevertheless, humorously lumbering along like a elephant for two hours, "Water for Elephants" wears out its welcome quickly. This is truly a 3-ring snore.
  • Lynn8723 April 2011
    First off I bought this book the day it came out because of the author's previous too books she had written. This is by far my favorite book and was excited and apprehensive to see the movie. The movie does move parts of the book around and it does leave things out. From my stand point everything about it was stunning. Pleasantly surprised by Robert Pattinson's performance, he made an impressive Jacob. Reese was gorgeous as usual and captivating as Marlena, but Christopher Waltz was by far my favorite. He was the perfect August. This movie is just absolutely stunning and I agree with some of the previous posters, how is this movie only reaching a 6.3 rating? I suppose people just need more motivation to see it on their own! :-)
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