Writer: Lasekan Olabisi GbemisolaWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"The Notebook", "Seabiscuit", "Trapeze", "Dumbo"
Based on the 2007 New York Times best-selling novel by Sara Gruen, 'Water for Elephants" is set during the Great Depression of the 1930s. As the movie begins, Jacob (Robert Pattinson), an old man of 93 years old in an old-folks home, recounts his memories that are sparked by a visiting circus. At the age of 23 after being stripped off everything he owns, we follow Jacob as he deals with his parents' untimely death. He fails to sit for his veterinary exams at Cornell University and is then left with an uncertain future. It's only when he's plunged into hard times he notices the struggles faced by the people in the country through the depression and bartering of goods instead of money, which makes him realise how rapidly life can change within a blink of an eye.
Hopping on a train that turns out to be owned by a Circus troupe, Jacob is assumed to be an intruder, but is later hired to care for the animals because of his college veterinary skills that quickly come in handy. It's not long until Jacob falls in love with the circus' star performer Marlena (Reese Witherspoon), an equestrian who's sensitive to the needs of her horses, although her sadistic ringmaster husband, August (Christoph Waltz), is obsessively jealous and gives in to unspeakable cruelties.
Pattinson as Jacob is fairly good with his role in the movie. It's just that audiences would find that despite his best efforts, he can't help but be bland. Maybe in a few years, and after a couple more good roles, Pattinson will evolve into a more interesting actor, but for "Water for Elephants", he's just a boy in a role that really needed a man. Christoph Waltz who was great in "Inglourious Basterds" as the Nazi Colonel, seems to be playing the same evil role in this movie as well. As a result, he doesn't merge into the role like he's supposed to, thus audiences will find it hard to imagine him as a guy who manages a circus.
Luckily, Witherspoon comes off a lot better than her co-stars did, and she's terrific as the object of both Pattinson and Waltz' affections, although the chemistry between her and Pattinson is somewhat lacking. Last but not least, one of the most sympathetic characters in the movie that audiences will grow to love is Rosie; the circus elephant that shares more human characteristics and feelings than some of the wicked circus bosses.
Overall, "Water for Elephants" may be a flawed and a somewhat inconsistent film, but it serves as a decent flick that tells a likable, moving story, and it's well worth checking out for those seeking for a romantic drama set in a different era.Cinema Online, 03 May 2011