First Reactions to Spielberg's 'Lincoln' Are… Pretty Good

We've been long overdue for a great movie about the 16th president of the United States, so when Steven Spielberg announced he was heading up a historical drama about our favorite lawyer, we were pretty psyched. Then, however, we started to worry. What if it's terrible? What if it's three hours long? Are our history teachers going to make us watch it anyway?

After the director unveiled an unfinished cut of "Lincoln" at the New York Film Festival last night, our fears have been assuaged—though it did run a full two hours and thirty minutes. The main takeaways seem to be that the film isn't all that much like its trailer, but the cast brings it.

"The handful of scenes excerpted in the fleeting teasers released in recent weeks highlight the clumsier scenes involving Lincoln's persistence in passing the 13th Amendment during the tense period when he campaigned for members of Congress to ratify the constitution in early 1864, four months before his assassination," IndieWire revealed. "With Daniel Day Lewis predictably embodying the president's lanky figure and wise gaze and calculated delivery, 'Lincoln' tracks much of these developments through low key exchanges alternately unfolding in backroom strategy sessions and in grand showdowns on the floor of the House of Representatives… and contains only a single battle scene in its opening seconds. The rest is pure talk." Pure talk? That's not the Spielberg we know.

According to the Huffington Post, however, this dialogue-heavy approach works, thanks in large part to the film's star. "The standout, however, is Daniel Day Lewis' work as Lincoln, an unsurprisingly immense achievement that mixes historical accuracy."

A (semi-coherent) Whoopi Goldberg seemed to agree, taking to Twitter to announce, "I have just seen the MOST exteoadenary film directed by Stephen Speilberg & it's called Lincoln. w/ Daniel Day Lewis who will make u forget… Anyother actor you've ever seen do Lincoln. It's beyond AMAZing. Tommy Lee Jones is flawless." (Technically, she sent out four tweets, but those first two pretty much sum it up.)

And while David Ehrlich also praised Daniel Day Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones, he tweeted that the film was the "best movie ever made for A&E." Ouch.

CinemaBlend (partly) agreed, as the reviewer noted, "There were moments of 'Lincoln' where I was ready to throw something at the screen in exasperation, either where John Williams's score got all 'War Horse' sentimental or Tony Kushner's script got weirdly didactic in explaining the nuts-and-bolts politics at the center of the film's action… but 'Lincoln' has more than a few aces up its sleeve, with a dynamite and incredibly wide-ranging supporting cast and a payoff for all that Constitutional exposition with a genuinely tense scene that involves a House roll-call (yes, just like on C-SPAN, but with more shouting and a lot more facial hair)."

Hmm. If this drama can make a House roll-call "tense," maybe it does deserve an Oscar nod or two—even if it seem a bit like a made-for-TV movie. While we try to wrap our heads around that possibility, let us know what you think. Will you sit through a (potentially) 150-minute movie about an old dead guy who did some important stuff back in the day?