MovieMantz Review: ‘Water for Elephants’
First Published: April 22, 2011 1:12 PM EDT Credit: Twentieth Century Fox
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- “A Big Top Love Story” by Scott Mantz
“Water for Elephants” Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz Directed by Francis Lawrence
Step right up, step right for “Water for Elephants” – the big screen adaptation of Sara Gruen’s best-selling novel, which succeeds on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to begin.
Before we get to that, let’s start with the fact that so far this year, movies from the Hollywood studios have been pretty awful – it’s no wonder that the year-to-date box office is down almost 20% when compared with the same frame last year. Fortunately, “Water for Elephants” should help reverse that trend, thanks to an emotionally engaging love story and strong performances – both of which help it rise to the occasion as the best movie so far this year.
But let’s address the proverbial “elephant” in the room here – specifically, how important this lavishly produced romance is for the viability of Robert Pattinson’s career. Up to this point, Pattinson has been best known as Edward Cullen, the love-struck vampire from the “Twilight” film series. He’s a hit with the Twi-hards, but despite his best efforts in last year’s little-seen melodrama “Remember Me,” he has yet to break through with the rest of the moviegoing public.
“Water for Elephants” should do the trick, for not only does Pattinson give an impressive performance, but he also holds his own alongside his Oscar-winning co-stars, Reese Witherspoon (Best Actress for 2005’s “Walk the Line”) and Christoph Waltz (Best Supporting Actor for 2009’s “Inglourious Basterds”).
Pattinson plays Jacob, an aspiring veterinarian in the 1930s who abandons his studies after the death of his parents to run off with a traveling circus. He offers his services to August (Waltz), the domineering ringleader, but he soon becomes smitten with Marlena (Witherspoon), the star attraction who also happens to be married to the hotheaded August. Jacob tries to resist his feelings for Marlena, but after witnessing August’s brutal treatment of her (and the rest of his stable), he risks everything in an effort to come to her rescue.
Despite taking place at a circus, “Water for Elephants” still feels a lot like 1997’s “Titanic.” It’s a love story that’s told as a flashback from the perspective of a much older Jacob, played with moving conviction by Hal Holbrook (an Oscar-nominee for 2007’s “Into the Wild”). And just like the love triangle in “Titanic,” the one here involves a sociopath (August) who intimidates his lover (Marlena) while fending off a dirt-poor, but charming newcomer (Jacob).
Not that “Water for Elephants” will come close to grossing the $1.8 billion take of “Titanic,” but it’s still an immensely entertaining and downright wonderful film. On top of the beautiful cinematography and great turns from Reese Witherspoon and Christoph Waltz, Robert Pattinson finally becomes a star attraction in his own right – and for that reason alone, moviegoers should step right up and see it.
Verdict: SEE IT!
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