This Means War/Water for Elephants: Double Feature – Blu-ray Edition

This Means War directed by Joseph McGinty Nichol:

Didn’t Reese Witherspoon recently win an Oscar? How come I can remember that? Because it seems as if she has forgotten it. Examples of the films she has done since her winning turn in Walk the Line include Penelope, Four Christmases and How Do You Know. The latter was about a woman having to decide between two guys she is dating and going through some anxiety about the choice. Hmmm, that sounds a little familiar to me. Oh yeah, because it is the exact same plot as This Mean War! Did Reese think she would be able to slip that one by us? Just because some details have been altered like the two men she has to choose between being CIA agents doesn’t make it a different film. Hmmpphh!

FDR (Chris Pine – ) and Tuck (Tom Hardy – Warrior, ) are CIA agents and best friends. Despite the fact that they are complete opposites, with FDR being a ladies’ man and Tuck still longing for the wife and son he used to be with, they would do anything for each other including put their lives on the line. All bets are off when the two friends discover that they are dating the same woman.

Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) is a surprisingly single products reviewer. Tired of her friend’s lack of initiative when it comes to men, Lauren’s best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler – from television’s Chelsea Later) secretly signs her up on an online dating site. The ultra sensitive Tuck also is looking for love and signs himself up on the same site. As the gods would have it the two, Tuck and Lauren, end up going out on a date. It goes well. FDR becomes a fly in love’s ointment when after the date Lauren goes to a video store and bumps into him. After initially being turned off by his bravado, Lauren warms up to him as well.  Now she has an embarrassment of riches or men and Lauren has to choose between two that she likes.

Being men of action FDR and Tuck are not going to leave things up to chance.  They begin using their CIA tactics and ins to try and get a leg up on the other in the competition for Lauren. Winning Lauren’s heart becomes mission number one for the two agents.

Sometimes I wonder if film script writers live in the real world. Oftentimes the stuff they write would never come out of the mouth of any human I know. Hokey, cheesy and childish make up the majority of the dialogue in this film. After a time I began to wish for action scenes (which is not my usual preference) as there was no talking in them.

With the plot being completely inane and predictable, I had to look for other things to entertain me with this film. One bright spot was Chelsea Handler. She brought some levity to the mundaness. Pretty much playing herself, Handler’s Trish was no nonsense and hilarious. I thank her for giving me a couple of laughs to cling to in a sea of eye rolling.

Despite the fact that all three leads are quite attractive that wasn’t enough to save this insult to my intellect.

Special Features:

-Alternate Endings

-Deleted Scenes

-Alternative Opening Concept

-Bachelorette Featurette

-Uncensored Gag Reel

-Theatrical Trailer

-Digital Copy

Water for Elephants directed by 

It is not until you see a film where there has been some miscasting that you begin to realize how important casting is.  Even when you have good source material (like this film based on the best-selling book by Sara Gruen) you still have to cast the right people in the right parts.  Reese Witherspoon is an Oscar winning actress and Robert Pattinson is one of the most popular young male actors due to his involvement in the Twilight films.  Each are good actors under the right circumstances, but Francis Lawrence’s (I Am Legend, Constantine) film is not the right circumstance.

An elderly man (Hal Holbrook – Into the Wild, Wall Street) shows up in the rainy parking lot.  Two young workers take him inside believing he must have come with the folks from the retirement home Greenhaven.  The elderly man tells the guy he knows circuses and the his first was the Benzini Brothers in 1931.  Says his name is Jacob Jankowski.  Charlie (Paul Schneider – Lars and the Real Girl, Bright Star) gives him something to drink and asks him about the Benzini Circus and the tragedy in 1931.

Jacob (Robert Pattinson – Twilight, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) is at Cornell taking veterinary science.  He is in the midst of taking his final exams.  During an exam he is pulled out and told his parents were killed in a car accident.  To pay for his tuition, Jacob’s father had remortgaged the house.  Jacob is left with nothing and no other family.

He decides not to go back to school and begins the long walk to Albany.  It is the Depression and jobs are scarce.  Jacob hops on a passing train.  The next morning the train stops and Jacob realizes he has hopped on with the Benzini Brothers travelling circus.  They begin setting up their tents in a large field.

Jacob begins working shovelling manure.  His first night he sees a blonde woman working with horses and is taken by her.  Then finds out that the blonde woman is the boss’s wife, Marlena (Reese Witherspoon – Walk the Line, Legally Blonde).  She is the star attraction of the circus and does not talk to anyone.

August Rosenblatt (Christoph Waltz – Inglorious Basterds, The Green Hornet) hires Jacob to take care of the animals for $9 per week once he finds out he studied veterinary science at Cornell.  The motto of August, the owner of the circus, is the show always goes on.  Workers work, animals perform.

After his star horse has to be put down, August gets a new star – Rosie, a 53-year-old female elephant.  Jacob begins to see that August is a violent and unstable man, but decides to stay with the circus in order to protect Rosie and Marlena.  The decision to stay drives Jacob to do things he never believed he was capable of.

The film does well in its ability to transport the viewer 80 years into the past.  It’s look is exquisite.  From the sets to the costumes it is all wonderful. A real treat for the eyes.  The cinematographer, director, costume director, etc. all recreated the Great Depression and traveling circus life right before our eyes.  A lot like a film made during the studio era.  Wonderful!

Of the three leads only Christop Waltz was right in his role.  That is not to say that Pattinson and Witherspoon were awful.  They just were not right and looked uncomfortable the whole way through.  This led to very little chemistry between the two which killed the whole romance angle of the film.  Without that you are not left with much.  Nothing much except August’s craziness.

Christoph Waltz demonstrates once again that he is marvellous at depicting complex evil characters.  His August is intimidating and always ready to go off.  Anytime he is on screen your stomach is in knots fearing that he could explode against man or beast anytime.  Despite all the disgusting attributes of the character you are drawn to August whenever he is on the screen.  That is a sign of a good acting job.

Special Features:
-The Traveling Show – Page to Screen
-Robert Pattinson Spotlight
-Feature Performer Reese Witherspoon
-Theatrical Trailer
-Sneak Peek of Million Moments, Art of Getting By, Another Earth, The Killing

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