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3.7 out of 5 stars
In the Electric Mist
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196 of 204 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 4, 2009
Format: DVD
This is the second film adaptation of one of James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux series, the first being "Heaven's Prisoners" with Alec Baldwin horribly miscast as Robicheaux.

In this film, Tommy Lee Jones is perfectly cast as Robicheaux, capturing all the nuance of the literary character: the alcoholic obsessions, the need to impose justice, his essential toughness and goodness.

This is a pretty faithful adaptation of the novel, and captures the flavor of the books, as well as the Louisiana settings. In all honesty, this was almost exactly how I'd pictured it from reading the books.

But a caveat: if you haven't read the books, you're probably not going to enjoy this movie, which is probably why in the USA it was released directly to DVD. Burke's novels are very introspective, which makes for interesting literature, but slow movies. There's plenty of drama, with several murders, corruption, and depravity to spare. But the books - and this movie - are at their hearts character studies of the Robicheaux character. This is more akin to "Smilla's Sense of Snow" than "Dirty Harry".

I loved it; your mileage may vary.
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56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2010
Format: DVD
I watched "In the Electric Mist" on a whim, based upon nothing more than the two actors displayed on the cover. I had no idea what to expect, or what I was getting into. In all honesty, I can't think of a better way to describe my reaction to the film other than to tell you that I logged onto Amazon tonight to purchase a copy.
I loved this film.
From the very beginning, "In the Electric Mist" draws you into an irresistible embrace and never lets go. Every acting performance is spot-on, and the dubious culture of the Louisiana Bayou ebbs from every facet of the story. I also need to mention the excellent soundtrack by Marco Beltrami; it is so powerful that it should be considered a character unto itself. There is a song played during the end credits that is truly one of the most beautiful songs you will ever hear.
Seriously, a great movie.
That being said, when I logged onto Amazon, I was surprised to see many reviewers voicing the opinion that this film's appeal is limited mainly to fans of the book. It's true that "In the Electric Mist" leaves a lot to the imagination, but ambiguity and convolution are two very different things.
Take a chance.
Watch the movie.
Decide for yourself.
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91 of 101 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2009
Format: DVD
I am a huge fan of James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux books. I have read most of them and most of them have been top notch. Unlike most series, Burke's actually gets better and better and just when you think its peaked, he writes something better.

Having read so many of the books, I always pictured either Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin (in his younger, lighter days) and Tommy Lee Jones as Dave. 2/3 predictions have come true. Tommy Lee Jones is the perfect David Robicheaux, this character was meant for him to play.

In the Electric Mist is one of the best books in the series, so how come with a great book and great casting the movie is only ok?

The problem is the movie itself is very very inside. The screen writers did too good a job adapting the story from the book. Remember the book is a middle book of a very long running series. As a fan and reader of the series, I knew who everyone was and how they got there. The problem for the mass audience will be that they will have no idea who half the people are and the film does not really give any answers.

This unfortunately will be a film liked by those who have read the books, and not fully understood by those who have not.

Twice filmakers have well casted and made well intentioned adaptations of the books, and twice they have not come through as they should have.
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64 of 70 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2009
Format: DVD
In the Electric Mist marks legendary French filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier's first North American-made motion picture and, based on the troubles he encountered while making it, perhaps his last. Tavernier, a big fan of American crime fiction (he previously adapted Jim Thompson's Pop. 1280 into Coup de Torchon - Criterion Collection), jumped at the chance to bring James Lee Burke's bestselling novel In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead to the big screen. However, reports surfaced that Tavernier and the film's star, Tommy Lee Jones, did not get along, and the producers were not happy with the director's version. As a result, the version released on DVD in North America is the producers' cut and not Tavernier's.

Tavernier does an excellent job capturing the local color of the area in the scenes where protagonist Dave Robicheaux (Tommy Lee Jones) canvases the locals. The entire film was shot on location and this only enhances the authenticity of the story's setting which is rich in atmosphere - also helped by the liberal use of blues and zydeco music. The cinematography has a textured quality to it that really brings out the lushness of the region.

The cast is outstanding with Tommy Lee Jones doing his patented gruff yet savvy lawman, Peter Sarsgaard portraying a boozy actor, and John Goodman as a scene-stealing mobster with a genial facade that barely masks a threatening demeanor. The cast is rounded out by fascinating veteran character actors like Mary Steenburgen, Pruitt Taylor Vince and Ned Beatty.

Despite the production and post-production problems that plagued the film, this version is engaging and entertaining but one still wonders what Tavernier's original cut is like.

Sadly, the only special features are a theatrical trailer but considering the bad blood between director and the producers this is hardly suprising.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2009
Format: DVD
I too am a huge James Lee Burke fan. I have read most if not all of Burke's Dave Robicheaux novels. In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead is my favorite of the series. I liked this movie much more then the movie adaptation of Heaven's Prisoners. I think Tommy Lee Jones makes a great Dave Robicheaux much more so then does Alec Baldwin. Jones lacks the dark hair and the touch of gray, so it is harder to call him by Dave's other nick name "Streak" that may be more of a problem with some of the other books with "Cletus". I thought Goodman makes a great villain (Baby Feet) as well. Overall the casting in this movie is outstanding!

As usual the movie left out a few scenes from the book. I was wondering how they would show Baby Feet hitting Dave with a line drive with a baseball. I suspect the scene was shot, but all cut from the movie except at the end when you see Baby Feet hitting a ball with a bat while Dave describes his fate, but that is all you see.

I believe the book had more conversations between Dave and the "General". Levon Helm made a good General Hood but I wish they used more of the books dialog. I knew how the book was going to end and was looking forward to it, but thought the director did not quite pull it off like Burke does in the book.

I'm not sure I liked seeing the scenes of post Katrina New Orleans as the book is + 15 years old, long before Katrina but the scenes were interesting.

I agree with the other reviewers that if you never have read a Burke book you might not like this movie. Like most great books seldom does the movie live up to the book. One of the things very difficult for moviemakers to do with Burke's books is bring out the poetic descriptive prose he uses. His writing is "beautiful. To really enjoy a Burke book read it first and then listen to it on audiotape! You get a taste of this in the opening and closing of The Electric Mist.

I pray they make more Dave Robicheaux movies, but one with Cletus. Who would make a good Cletus? I'm thinking Tom Sizemore or Randy Quaid. Which novel would you pick? I hope they bring back Tommy Lee Jones he is a GREAT Dave!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2009
Format: DVD
James Le Burke is a man who writes intense thrillers that manage to be introspective character studies and also cover the widest variety of emotions.

This film is based on one of the middle books and that may leave viewers who aren't familiar with the series a little baffled.

Tommy Lee Jones gives it his all and he is perfection as the protagonist Dave Robicheax, the weather beaten detective whose appearance and body language let you know that he's seen it all and lived through it.

Dave is investigating a series of killings in the murky depths of the Louisiana bayou. The director captured the mood, tone, and scenery to the point that one can almost feel the stifling southern humidity in ones lungs while watching this.

Robicheaux has problems of his own while trying to investigate and there are many twists and turns, each one seemingly to prohibit his quest of solving these murders.

There is a whole local dynamic that further obscures the truth for him. There are cultural misunderstandings, veiled feuds, and southern racial tensions that further impede his progress.

Robicheaux also has the problem of the evil mobster, Balboni, to contend with. John Goodman's performance of the epitome of evil in this film practically stole the show for me. This role will remind people of just how talented he is.

Due to his dealings with all of the nefariousness and people who do not want him to solve the crimes, one is led through the movie wondering it Robicheaux will make it through without killing more people or being killed himself.

I know that the director could have done a better job with the suspense as compared to the book but Tommy Lee Jones' intensity, commanding performance, and the believability of the story pulled me through whatever lapses in script structure and pacing in the movie that were there. I would most strongly recommend this film to anyone who has read the books. But, if you like the great acting and those involved and the backdrop of balmy Louisiana this film will be for you too.

I give this 4 stars and will watch it again.

Kevin W. Mattingly
Harrisburg Times.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: Blu-ray
There seems to be a lot of disappointment expressed about this film which I find baffling - because even as a complete novice to James Lee Burke's books or the director's past works - I loved it. I really did. I found "In The Electric Mist" to be a very compelling story - powerful acted and cleverly told. And something of undiscovered gem.

Once again Tommy Lee Jones as the haggard and troubled lead - just stuns - his depth and power fill the screen absolutely all of the time. Credit must also go to the uniformly superb supporting cast too (even if in some cases they don't get a lot to do) - John Goodman, Peter Sarsgaard, Mary Steenburgen, Ned Beatty, Kelly MacDonald, Pruitt Taylor-Vince, Justina Machado and even Buddy Guy (the blues guitar player) - all good. And then there's Levon Helm of the famous Americana rock group THE BAND as the ghost of a Confederate General - adding extraordinary old-world gravitas and mystery to the piece.

The Blu Ray print is BEAUTIFUL too - even in the dark interiors - but especially in the outdoor swamp shots and town houses. Disappointingly though, there are precious few extras.

Bertrand Tavernier's film isn't a masterpiece for sure, and it's perhaps just a little 'too' in love with its own gumbo and Louisiana scenery, but I found it immensely moving in places - and awkwardly real - especially on the core subject of racism and its still lingering malevolent presence (the title of this review is a rumination by one of the characters on that subject when a dead body from 1965 comes back to haunt him).

The film reminded me of John Sayles at his best ("Passion Fish" for instance) - full of heart and great observation - which is high praise indeed...

I'd say ignore the so-so reviews and put it high on your rental list. Recommended.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2009
Format: DVD
Why do filmmakers destroy a great book? A terrible movie, great acting but a crap movie. Poorly edited, choppy, no atmosphere, NO CLETE, harly a ghost, charecter development was sadly lacking. Was Bootsie there? Or Batiste? Not nearly as much as in the books. Read the book, forget the movie. I feel real bad for what they did to your fine book Mr.Burke.
a shame.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2009
Format: DVD
Never even heard of the books - maybe that's a good thing: no expectations. It seems fitting that a French director did such a wonderful, spare, tight film about Louisiana. Nothing sentimental - just all the ingredients of a Civil War that has never really ended, tragically flawed history, and characters that you love & respect even while seeing huge flaws.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2009
Format: DVD
Burke's Robicheaux novels are complex, deeply evocative police thrillers set (with exceptions) in the bayou counties around New Orleans. The lead character tries to balance a deep intelligence, an unflinching commitment to justice, deep religious and family impulses, and a facility with violence which Burke presents as alternatively liberating and damning. The bayou emerges in the novels as subtle, colorful, human, a little threatening, and poised uncomfortably between a past flush with horror and a questionable, ominous future. (The stories which Burke sets in Montana deal with the geography very differently.)

This uncomfortable balance is at the heart of the Robicheaux stories, none more so than the novel on which this movie is based. At first, it's hard to imagine a less likely novel for adaptation as a Hollywood release. Burke's novels are first rate mysteries and detective stories, but they take the conventions of noir storytelling much deeper than most in his genre have done. Given the inevitable limitation of a two hour movie in capturing the nuances available to a first-person narrator in a 300 page book, this film does an extraordinary job of capturing Robicheaux, the complexities of his character, and the haunting pull of the bayou (and southern) past which forms the background of a story of multiple murders.

Tommie Lee Jones provides an understated and utterly convincing portrait of Robicheaux, perhaps a definitive one, and he's surrounded by an extraordinary cast no less adept at economically presenting characters on both sides of the good and evil divide.

The movie is a remarkable accomplishment. It does not fully capture the book (read the book and you'll see why), but it takes the central metaphor in the book--the 'living' presence of the Confederate dead, with all that they represent--and refocuses the symbol into the presence of John Bell Hood (played beautifully by Levon Helm). The very last scene in the film takes one further step in this refocusing, one that gilds the lily unnecessarily, but it's a forgivable and brief excess in a project which succeeds as a top-flight noir crime story, an action-adventure tale, a regional portrait, and a case study of how brilliant actors do their jobs. (In addition to Helm, by the way, the film features the great bluesman Buddy Guy.) The movie is well worth seeing.
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