2 January 2014 | iamyuno2
The Only Thing Missing Are The Great Lines And Tighter Construction
When I say the only thing missing are the great lines I mean to say that this is a truly excellent historical recreation of dramatic and fascinating real events and I almost wanted to give it a 9 - but its screenplay is more journalistic than artistic. No memorable lines here. It doesn't quite soar to the heights. Not Shakespeare. Not even The Lion In Winter.
But do I have a right to expect that of it? Not really. This was, after all, a hillbilly blood bath, and its intention, I believe, was to recreate it with a stark realism. And it succeeded there, very honorably.
This is one of the better made-for-TV multi-part movies in a very long time and one that is largely faithful to the true events - which is no small accomplishment to achieve. And hats off for its honesty and veracity.
Here you find fine acting, cinematography, direction, editing...it was one of the must-see broadcasts of the year, certainly (I couldn't wait to see the next part as it unfolded).
While having to tone down the violence for TV somewhat, it's not toned down all that much. And that's one of the ways Kevin Costner gets his point across. You get more than the average feel for the horrors of a blood feud, with great intensity. Deaths are upsetting - as they should be in any fine production. Could they have been more moving? Perhaps. That's why I rate this 8 and not 10 stars.
But Kevin Costner's Hatfields & McCoys hits on all cylinders and has nothing to apologize for. To achieve greater heights requires genius and we cannot require that of every movie we feel is praiseworthy.
This is a taut, quality film and one that contains many fine performances. A cautionary tale, too, of course, and on that level alone it is worth seeing.
One last thing - because multi-part TV movies are by definition longer than the average film, they also tend to seem overly long and be a bit more daunting to view - especially when considering whether to watch them a second or third time. This inherent structural challenge is the only thing that has kept me from viewing it for a second time - and perhaps if it had not been a multi-parter but had been cut down to just one long movie (even if three hours long) it might have (with the proper editing) been able to tighten up enough to qualify for a 9 star rank.
Yet...it's definitely worth summoning up the patience to view once. In retrospect, I have to marvel at the amount of work Kevin Costner put into this effort and how well he served his subject and purpose.