388 of 405 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Exciting Story
Each night I turned on the HBO feature anxious to see a good dramatic series, and learn about my country's struggle for life through one its most underrated founding fathers, John Adams.
Paul Giamatti's performance in the title role is much in dispute as he, like many other actors, seems to play himself as much as his character. He turns from a loving father to...
Published on July 30, 2008 by Edwin C. Pauzer
534 of 579 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars John Adams (HBO Miniseries)
I read David McCullough's GREAT book in anticipation of this miniseries. McCullough painted a picture of a man and a time that I found fascinating; a picture of a hardworking, sensitive (maybe mildly obsessive-compulsive in terms of his emotional high and lows) genius. I found the first few episodes excellent, albeit different from the book. It is the last few episodes...
Published on April 14, 2008 by Brandon Price
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EXTRAORDINARY!,
I wish that everyone would take the time to watch! What a masterpiece! Ive never seen a more realistic portrayal of the beginning of this country. I have a new appreciation for the men and women who gave so much so that we could live as free as people can. Many thanks to the writer director and actors.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Freedom has its Price,
"Posterity! You will never know how much it cost us to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it."
- John Adams 1777
HBO did a fine job with the John Adams miniseries and took great pains to get "most" of the historical details correct. It aptly showed how both John and Abigail sacrificed so much in terms of their marriage and their family to help create and foster the birth of this fine nation. There was also somewhat of a more balanced storyline perspective as to fault: Colonists versus the British monarchy. It also portrayed the great love that most of the colonists had for Britain and their former roots and the great reluctance that faced many of them.
There are seven segments in the saga which spans from 1770 until John Adams' death in 1826. Much of the storyline is based upon David McCullough's exceptional book on John Adams by the same name..
The seven segments are as follows:
Part I: Join or Die (1770 - 1774)
Part II: Independence (1774 - 1776)
Part III: Don't Tread on Me (1776 - 1781)
Part IV: Reunion (1781 - 1789)
Part V: Unite or Die (1789 - 1797)
Part VI: Unnecessary War (1797 - 1801)
Part VII: Peacefield (1801 - 1826)
What is nice about the miniseries is that it can be divided up into manageable blocks which can be watched and discussed or debated with family and friends. There are so many issues discussed which will sound very familiar even to us today. To think that it took thirty six ballots to elect Thomas Jefferson because there was a tie in the number of votes for each of two candidates is absolutely amazing. The founding fathers were willing to let elections and the nomination process take its course and they allowed a lot of discussion to take place and "compromise". I have to say that there were some historical liberties taken with the miniseries but it did not detract from the story itself or the core of the story's fabric: John and Abigail Adams' life of service to their country. In fact the entire Adams family paid a price in one way or another for this dedication and devotion without which our country may have floundered and not survived. Adams was extremely instrumental in this country's creation, nurturing and survival.
To own this series is a very wise investment especially if you are a history buff. The starkness of the surroundings and how they were portrayed in the film seemed on target to me. The background seemed to match the moods of the Adams themselves and what the characters had to go through to endure and not give up.
Laura Linney and Paul Giamatti as the Adams couple were superb. But I had to say that once again I was very impressed with Stephen Dillane and his portrayal. I appreciated his rendition of Jefferson as much as I liked Dillane in Anna Karenina (another surprise performance).
Tom Wilkinson had some fine moments as Ben Franklin and David Morse was superb as George Washington. Rufus Sewell played Alexander Hamilton and I have to say after Sewell's performance I disliked Hamilton as much as I disliked the character he played in the movie "The Holiday". His performance was also spot on as the "insensitive and manipulative" Hamilton.
What impressed me was the intimate look at the dynamics of these perilous times when our country was born. So much could have gone wrong and did; and without great sacrifices from great men; everything could have been different. Very different.
Posterity has a lot to be grateful for. You have to wonder whether we are capable of the sacrifices that so many had to make to preserve and keep our freedoms. Our forefathers were made of the right stuff as were those who fought in all of our wars to protect us back home. It just seemed to me at the conclusion of this very moving dramatization that there is a recurring theme which reminded me of a famous speech given by Winston Churchill in 1940 and the resulting poster which read: "Never was so much owed by so many to so few."
John Adams (HBO Miniseries)
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Biographical film.,
My wife and I watched this sweeping epic about the founding of my country this weekend. We found it to be fascinating, both well written and well acted. Portrayed in this mini-series is a grittier and dirtier America at its birth, less flowery, but in the end more inspirational because of it.
This story tells about a great man and the great woman who allows him to be great. It tells about how different men have different gifts, and how different men with different gifts were able to accomplish what was so improbable, that impossible seamed a more apt description.
What I found most remarkable and memorable about this saga, is the incredible sacrifice of service great men were asked to offer, and that they accepted and fulfilled the request. Duty, Duty, Duty. That great men are pulled from their preferred occupation to serve in government reluctantly, out of duty because no one else willing (or is capable to) do the job needed.
Where are those great men today?
If you are in the mood for an inspirational if lengthy bio-pic, John Addams is a good way to spend 5 Hours!
26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great story, good movie, but please no commercials.,
I don't get HBO at home, but I heard many positive reviews of the series on blogs (Instapundit and Volokh Conspiracy) and the radio. I pre-ordered the DVD collection, which arrived in time to enjoy with Father's Day. I certainly did enjoy the story and the acting.
John Adams is an interesting person to take us through the story of the birth of the USA. You see the run up to the revolution, the union of the colonies, the war and post-war diplomacy, and the struggle to stay united. And if your a law buff, you learn quite a bit about the basis of laws in the US, while enjoying a great production.
I give 2 stars because I'm annoyed with HBO commercialization of the DVDs. They used DVD locking features, typically used to force viewing of copyright notices, to force viewers to see a 5 minute commercial for other HBO miniseries (actually includes segments of John Adams). It's really bad that this was done at all, yet all 3 DVD's have the same required viewing before you can get to the menu.
I thought the point of HBO/cable was to pay money by the consumers to get product without commercialization. I purchase DVD's of various network series, so I can see productions without commercial interruption. Word-of-mouth was more than sufficient to get me to purchase this series. Please, don't ruin a great product with crass commercialization.
If you want to put trailers for other series on the DVD, no problem. Provide a link on the menu. Many people enjoy viewing trailers, so certainly include them. Just don't make them mandatory.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ignore the critics who have seen advanced screenings.,
I've only seen the first four of the series so far. I'm an average viewer, not a critic who receives advanced screenings, so I don't feel obligated to pick a movie apart and force myself to either hate it or love it. Believe me, being overly critical can make a simple and beautiful movie look awful, and a bland movie look like a masterpiece. Seeing as the vast majority of those who will be watching this are, as myself, average viewers seeking a good entertaining and heartfelt movie, not someone who dislikes it because it disagrees with their 'liberal arts' education, then this review is for them. Besides, the success of this film lies in the hands of the average viewer (the majority).
The first thing that struck me was the acting. There are parts were I was thinking to myself, "Man, Mr Adams just politically slapped everyone and did it with style." It made me feel good, all warm and fuzzy inside :-) I wanted to stomp a staff on the floor in agreement with Mr. Adams, and boo the opposition off the floor.
The second thing I noticed was how authentic the people look. It scares me and makes me grateful I don't have to live in that time. The common-folk appear to be rather grungy and I could imagine quite smelly. Some seem malnourished or just plain unhealthy.
What I like most is that this series is able to capture some of the most significant events in American history and leave me with that warm fuzzy feeling as the events unfold.
One thing that I don't like, but at the same time it's okay, is that it doesn't capture how vast of an area this covered. Each scene seemed rather staged and enclosed. But I say that's "okay" because I believe by putting it in more of a staged setting it helps tell the historical story a bit more efficiently that way.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required television,
I read the John Adams book by David McCullough first. I enjoyed the book very much and was eager to see how it translated to television. I have really enjoyed the way the mini-series has been able to capture the book.
The series and the book helps me to realize how amazing our founding fathers were and how they were all such visionaries. Every American should either see the series or read the book to either re-capture their sense of patriotism, or experience it for the first time. Our forefathers and their families made many sacrifices for us to be able to live in the United States. We should never forget how fortunate we all are to be born in this country.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding treatment of a Great Man,
If history bores you, this movie isn't for you. If the founding of the government of the USA is boring, this movie isn't for you. I am a history buff and a Revolutionary War re-enactor and this is, by far, one of the best acted and realistic portrayals I've encountered. Being very familiar with the time period and the founding of the nation, I can sit there and point out the nitpicky details of the scenery that are in error, but the series was not directed with armchair history geniuses in mind. This is for a much broader audience. The performances are fantastic! John Adams was a man of great integrity...qualities that are RARE these days. He was very honorable and had many faults. But, he was sure right about France :0) and he stuck to his convictions. The movie has done justice to the excellent book written by McCullough. One of the funniest reviews I ever read is by a person who reviewed the John Adams book. He/she said it was extremely boring because it was a history book! Duh!
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Transported,
I am completely transported back in time trough this series. To "see" Washington, Jefferson and Adams together in a room is thrilling. It has made me even more appreciative of the sacrifices and brilliance that these men with great foresight had. We are truly blessed that THEY were the ones who formed our union and that Lincoln perserved it. I only wish it were possible for them to come back see what has happened to their Republic . As Benjamin Franklin said of our republic ..." if you can keep it".
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Roll Over Franklin And Tell Jefferson The News,
There is much to argue with in HBO's interpretation of David McCullough's Pulitzer Prize winning masterwork - timelines, cinematography and perhaps some casting choices. However, these "technical" issues are really beside the point and do little to undermine the overall power and scope of the entire series. Whatever we think we know of these events through the idealized rote of history, McCullough's baseline brilliantly illuminates the struggle of imperfect men attempting to create "perfect" government. Throughout the series I was constantly reminded of the old admonition about the grotesque similarities between the making of sausage and legislation.
The core cast (Paul Giammati, Laura Linney, Tom Dellane) is spectacular. Linney in particular powerfully makes the case that without the emotional intelligence of Abigail Adams as counterbalance to her husband's inexhaustable volatility our history might have been very different.
John Adams is time well spent and highly recommended.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seen the first 2 episodes, and am moved.,
I have only seen the first two episodes, and have to say that this is so far, a very, very good work. This is not the story of great men being great, it is the story of a human man, with normal flaws and doubts, being thrust into a situation where he, and his fellows, rise to the occasion--even as they wish they did not have to. Even the men who you wind up disliking are not villains--they are people. They have their own thoughts and concerns, and are not "bad guys".
This is not spectacle. It is not explosions and violent conflict portrayed larger than life. It is, rather, the process by which the Founding Fathers pushed, and drug, each other to recognize the need to break free of the Crown.
People have complained about the cinematography. I think all I have seen fits the atmosphere the era quite well.
If you like history, or human drama, this one is one to buy. And, HBO is to be commended for brining this story to the screen in this miniseries.
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