Will Spielberg hit top form with this long-anticipated Honest Abe biopic?
Release date: January 25, 2013.
The cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook.
The pitch: Awards-baiting portrait of the last four months of Abraham Lincoln’s life, probably the most significant period of any US Presidency before or since.
The buzz: After the triple disappointment of Crystal Skull, Tintin and War Horse, Steven Spielberg has a fair bit do to reaffirm himself as Hollywood’s top dog. Munich writer Tony Kushner’s script has been in development for six years. In that time Liam Neeson left the project feeling he was too old to play the titular character and instead set about belting living daylights out of Albania's criminal underworld. In his place steps celebrated method man Daniel Day-Lewis. Though everyone knows how the story of Prez XVI ends, you can bet it won’t stop the iconic speeches and impassioned gesticulations tearing at your core.
Reasons this could be good: The most successful director of his generation brings the holy grail of American biopics to the big screen with one of the world’s finest acting talents in the lead role. World implodes.
Reasons this could be bad: Lincoln spends the movie considering how to best patch up The Union while ruffling the pale fur of Snowy the dog. His generals are revealed to be glass domed ETs. The President rides into the sunset on a horse called Joey, thus avoiding a lead salad.
The music: With tones of Private Ryan's rousing optimism, John Williams' brassy score is just one parallel in Spielberg’s con-flicks. As Lincoln’s Bixby letter is recited in WWII-era America, the fallen heroes of both battles weigh heavy on the motivations of Hanks and Day-Lewis. Soaring strings and chorale chimes lift the trailer to the rhapsodic levels of enlightenment synonymous with Lincoln’s time in office.
Best bit: 01:12 – Nothing seems more inappropriate than barking with laughter at a very serious actor reciting very serious dialogue but Tommy Lee Jones' skull rug does exactly that. Tommy’s toupee is up there with the daftest of dos.
The verdict: It's all about Day-Lewis. He certainly looks the part, but the true measure of his performance will be the manner in which he conveys the conviction Lincoln had for his cause.