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on February 4, 2013
This is a soft hitting environmental film. Steve Butler (Matt Damon) represents Global which wants to buy the gas drilling rights to a town. He is from a farming community, but can't drive a stick shift. He is also ill informed of the dangers of fracking. His partner is Sue (Frances McDormand) a working mom who tries to parent from Skype. In the town of Miller's Falls, they meet resistance from Frank (Hal Holbrook) the local science teacher and an environmental activist (John Krasinski).

Rob (Titus Welliver) who owns Rob's Guns and Groceries is sweet on Sue while flirty school teacher Alice (Rosemarie DeWitt) sparks Matt's love interest. The film uses stock cardboard characters to create a nice feel good tale. There is a twist at the end that wasn't too much of a shock. The farmer's have to decide if they want to sell the rights and risk losing their land to environmental poisoning, or wait and lose the land due to poverty as government subsidies dwindle and market prices fall. It is a gamble either way.

The film is not a documentary. It does inform the viewer what fracking is and why it poses danger, but doesn't drive it home to the point of turn off.

Parental Guide: f-bomb. No sex or nudity.
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Interesting to note all the negative reviews for PROMISED LAND. Perhaps that is because people expected some big explosion of a story when all that is here is a bit of everyday happenings that accompany this country's struggle with environmental issues. It is a quiet film, exceedingly well written based on a story from Dave Eggers, by Matt Damon and Jon Krasinski who happen to also star in their brainchild - an honest, funny, entertaining, and sensitive tale in the way it plays out the issues and comes up with a surprise ending.

Corporate salesman for Global Enterprises Steve Butler (Matt Damon) arrives in a rural Pennsylvania town with his sales partner, Sue Thomason (Frances McDormand, in one of the finest performances in the film): the two enjoy a warmly written and quite unassuming relationship. Global is a company that drills (read `fracks') for natural gas as alternative fuel form to replace the degrading effects of oil and gasoline on the environment. With the town having been hit hard by the economic decline of recent years, Steve and Sue see the local citizens as likely to accept their company's offer, for drilling rights to their properties, as much-needed relief. What seems like an easy job for the duo becomes complicated by the objection of a respected MIT trained physicist and schoolteacher (Hal Holbrook) and with support from a grassroots campaign led by a newly arrived likeable environmentalist Dustin Noble (Jon Krasinski) who counters Steve both personally and professionally. Some small town influences enter in the form of personal affairs: Steve is smitten by testy schoolteacher Alice (Rosemarie DeWitt) while Sue is attracted to shop owner Rob (Titus Welliver). Once Dustin smooth talks the town and places signs of dead cows on posters that cry out Global Go Home! the war is on. But the town, torn between needing money and fear of heir farms being destroyed by fracking, is the foil, and the ending of the story is a surprise.

Gus Van Sant directs with his leisurely homespun style and draws excellent performances from his cast - including some fine cameos by Dorothy Silver, Lucas Black, and Kristin Slaysman among many others. PROMISED LAND gives us both sides of the environmental problem and we, the audience, are left to decide for ourselves. This is a much-underrated move whose impact will grow with time. Grady Harp, April 13
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on April 2, 2015
I live in Payette Idaho and this movie is a true example of what the gas companies can do to a community when they own the city managers. Idaho gave away the State to the gas companies in the form of legislation in favor of the gas companies. Most legislative members have leases with the gas companies. This movie shows the importance of hiring an Attorney before signing any lease. By the time new legislation is passed, the gas companies won't care as they will have their hold on the state. In the name of studies, the gas companies are doing millions of dollars in damage to properties in the State.
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on April 16, 2015
What a wonderful movie! A character-driven film, with some of the most talented actors we have in the U.S. -- "Promised Land" explores the tensions that exist between the needs and desires of a dying agricultural community struggling to survive these transitional economic time and the exploitative corporations poised to manipulate their fears and insecurities. It's a story about the gas industry and the very real threat to our environment caused by the practice of tracking. It's about corporate manipulation and greed. It's about human beings trying to understand right and wrong in a world that seems to have forgotten those distinctions.
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on January 24, 2015
I enjoyed "Promised Land" way more than I thought I would. Despite which side of the fracking issue you are on, the movie manages to evaluate those sides fairly. It was interesting that Matt Damon's character, Steve Butler, was a proponent of fracking knowing Matt Damon himself most certainly isn't. The plot line was really clever and though the final outcome was mostly expected, you get there in a way that was not expected. Great casting, awesome scenery, superb acting particularly by Frances McDormand & Hal Holbrook (at age 88 nonetheless!) Grab the DVD and watch a good movie that will, if nothing else, open the gates of environmental discussion.
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on July 28, 2013
There are a number of actors that I trust to give a good performance in almost any movie, and Matt Damon belongs on that list. He's probably best known for playing Jason Bourne, and some of my friends are disappointed that he didn't want to play similar roles for the rest of his life. I thought he was great as Bourne, but my favorite performances came in The Departed, Good Will Hunting, and Rounders. He elevated flawed movies like The Adjustment Bureau, Hereafter, and We Bought a Zoo, and gave excellent performances in several titles that I haven't mentioned.

Why do I like Damon?

I like that he's versatile, but most of all, I admire his understated acting style. He doesn't try to take over a movie, and that makes his performances all the more realistic. If Damon hadn't been cast in Promised Land, I doubt that I would have ever seen it. It's good to see him team up again with Gus Van Sant, who directed him in Good Will Hunting.

Promised Land is about the way in which a natural gas company, Global, attempts to convince a small farming community to sell land and allow it to be exploited for its natural resources. The people are poor and seem like easy targets. Steve Butler (Damon) and Sue Thomason (McDormand) are employed by Global to deliver their sales pitch. Butler grew up in a similar community and carries a lot of credibility as he visits the local farmers. He truly believes that it is in the best interests of the locals to accept Global's offer.

Butler encounters local opposition in the form of Frank Yates, who is played convincingly by Hal Holbrook. Yates is a science teacher and he's been making use of Google to uncover the truth about natural gas. Apparently, there are plenty of risks involved, and not all towns prosper in the way that Butler has implied. Additional problems arise for Butler when environmentalist Dustin Noble (Krasinski) shows up with a tale of how natural gas exploitation ruined his community.

There are a couple of unpredictable twists later in the story, but it would be wrong of me to reveal them here.

It's rare to see a drama of this nature in modern cinema. There are no explosions or action sequences, and although there is a small romantic element, it's not the driving force in the story. So who is this movie for? Well, it would certainly hold your interest if you were a struggling farmer with the option of selling your land. However, I don't fall into that category, and I was engrossed by the story throughout.

The movie tackles real issues and raises questions about who is good and who is evil. It provides moral dilemmas for its characters, and we see how they choose to resolve them. Ultimately, it explores deeper themes about our function in life, and whether we are successes, failures, or creatures capable of questioning our established roles. It also looks at how the decisions of big companies can impact the lives of other people.

I wouldn't say that Promised Land is essential viewing, but it will work for fans of Matt Damon, and perhaps for those who like to see stories that don't follow the usual Hollywood pattern. I'm glad that it's in my collection.

Overall score 3.75/5
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on April 18, 2013
Promised Land (2012) - Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting), John Krasinski (The Office), Frances McDormand, Rosemarie DeWitt, Titus Welliver, Hal Holbrook

This film was an Oscar contender and is the first time Matt Damon has written a script since his Oscar win for Good Will Hunting. It centers around a ladder climber at a company called Global Crosspower Solutions, an energy company which deals in natural gas. He goes to a small town with his partner (Frances McDormand) in order to get the town to sign over rights so that his company may begin fracking for natural gas. He is surprised when he encounters resistance from the townsfolk, who are aided by an environmentalist with an axe to grind (Krasinski).

Should you buy it? At times the film can be a bit preachy. It's a well told story, with a couple of nice twists and ultimately a nice little character study. There are political undertones both overt and subtle which astute viewers can pick up on but which aren't 100% necessary to understand the very basic plot. I found it to be an enjoyable film with strong performances and quite a bit of witty banter. Overall, I'd recommend it as a purchase if you're a fan of character pieces and films that deal with complex real world issues. If not, this might be a firm "rent" movie. Solid follow up to GWH, but doesn't quite get to GWH's levels.
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on January 1, 2015
Wasn't sure what to expect with this movie, but waited till it was available for rental to watch. Really enjoyed it. Had a wonderful turn at the end that I was not fully expecting. Entertaining movie. I would recommend it to friends.
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on April 26, 2014
The title tells us the film is taking on one of the present day’s big subjects,fracking,but it has undertones of biblical proportions,with a big director(Van Sant) and big stars,Damon,who co-wrote the story by Eggers,and the dependable McDormand. Steve(Damon) is committed to his job of persuading small town people, small farmers,to sell the rights of their land for the drilling for natural gas, only because he came from a small town which died when the industry left.Steve thinks he’s there to bring benefits to the small farmers,who are living through hard times.They want to get their kids through college and this is the way.He is convinced that rural life cannot be sustained by agriculture alone.Steve has been picked by Global Crosspower Solutions to promote big business, smooth anxieties,tap into the yokel mindset,with evangelism.

Steve is up against a local science teacher Frank Yates(Hal Holbrook),who has researched the topic,and knows they only go to the poor areas to exploit the deposits,and is sceptical about the effects of the fracking process.Steve also has environmental activist Dustin Noble(Krasinski),who has turned up with an axe to grind against Global,telling people fracking in his hometown led to the poisoning of farm animals and the destruction of the local economy.He’s seen improbably whipping up the folk in a bar with a rendering of Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’.He also makes a beeline(and the moral highground) for local teacher Alice,whom Steve fancied.This is not a debate about fracking,but fracking is the Maguffin of the movie.Steve is essentially a decent guy(“I’m not a bad guy”),but he knows he’s sold himself to the corporation,and some locals in a bar attack his complacency,punching him.

There is a Capraesque Local Hero aspect to this film,about a man trying to get into contact with his conscience,with perceived qualities of character.There’s a girl,Alice,who acts as a weathervane of affection between the two male adversaries.The nice-guy geniality shows fissures,as Noble gets under Steve’s skin more as he takes the bribe,only to deny it and send out flyers and signs to people’s properties and woos Alice.Damon and McDormand are wonderful in their roles as is Dewitt as Alice.The location cinematography in Pennsylvania is good and the gentle musical score is effective.But there are some strange plot twists and speeches at the end,that the film feels conflicted between polemics and storytelling,slipping into Capra-corn preachiness and a soft centre.Chinatown this ain’t,as it runs out of gas.
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on January 23, 2016
Content is high quality for helping people picture why fracking is so welcomed by some communities and so dangerous. Acting is impressive by the many famous actors in this small movie. Cutting is where the movie falls down as some scenes, like a minute looking at the back of Matt Damon's head seems unnecessary.
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