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Good, in general

February 24, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

The New York Post summed up the nearly four-hour movie "Gods and Generals" in two words: "Gods Awful."

The Christian Science Monitor stated, "'Gods' is nothing to worship."

Roger Ebert gave the film a star and a half in his Chicago Sun-Times review.

But the verdict of residents living in or near Washington County? According to those asked Friday at Hagerstown's R/C Theatres in Valley Mall, they loved it.

"It was wonderful. It didn't seem like it was (almost) four hours," said Patti Gaver of Chambersburg, Pa.

Gaver attended the 2:30 p.m. movie Friday with her husband, Tim, who also said he enjoyed the film.

The movie opened nationally Friday.

The film, directed by Ron Maxwell, is a prequel to his 1993 movie "Gettysburg."

"Gods and Generals" runs 3 hours and 35 minutes and is based on the book written by Jeff Shaara. It details events leading up to the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg.

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The story follows the life of Gen. Stonewall Jackson.

"It made me feel compassionate toward the Southern armies," Patti Gaver said. "They humanized it. It wasn't just all fighting. You really felt for the soldiers."

The Gavers said they don't pay attention to what the critics have to say about movies.

"If I watch Ebert, I usually go in the other direction," Patti Gaver said.

Phil and Amanda Lambert of Myersville, Md., described the movie as excellent and said they had planned to see it regardless of the reviews.

Amanda Lambert said "Gods and Generals" summed up the emotions of the Civil War.

"It wasn't all just battle," said Mike Houser of Hagerstown. "It also had a personal side to it."

Houser and his son, Mark, said they liked the movie.

Mark Houser, however, said he thought the film had too many speeches.

Mike Houser said that while the movie was long, he recommends that people see it.

"I'll probably go see it again," he said.

"I loved it," said Charles Rice of Greencastle, Pa. "It was just like the Gettysburg one. It was fun to see a lot of the same actors again."

Rice, who attended the 1 p.m. showing at R/C Theatres, said he was interested in the flick, in part, because some of it was filmed locally.

He also said "Gods and Generals" is sympathetic to the feelings of the people who fought in and lived during the Civil War.

Parts of the movie were filmed in Hagerstown, at the Austin Flook farm in southern Washington County, in Martinsburg, W.Va., and in Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

None of the area residents asked mentioned they were disappointed that the Battle of Antietam, which took place in Sharpsburg, had been cut from the film's theater-release.

The battle will be shown in the six-hour DVD version.

Several Civil War re-enactors set up in the lobby of R/C Theatres, playing music and displaying guns and other equipment.

Most said they had not yet seen the full movie, but that they're dismissing the bad reviews. The re-enactors said they were planning to go as a group to today's 1 p.m. showing.

"I've seen good, I've seen bad (reviews)," re-enactor Russ Seibert of Williamsport said. "There are going to be different viewpoints."

"I don't pay any attention to those people," re-enactor Kurt Wagaman of Waynesboro, Pa., said.

Wagaman and re-enactor Sandy Andrews of Hagerstown said they've seen about 90 minutes of clips, which they thought were "excellent."

"I'll be the judge for myself," Andrews said.

Re-enactor Skip Koontz of Sharpsburg said he also didn't give much credence to the critics.

"They've done bashed it hard," Koontz said.

He said the reviewers expect the movie to be a documentary rather than a film that's based on a historical novel.

"It's not a documentary," Koontz said.

Koontz said he'll be happy if the movie simply sparks the interest of young people.

"If it allows a young person to get a new interest in American history, then it's done a good service," he said.

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