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3.7 out of 5 stars
Promised Land
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51 of 58 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
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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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
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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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2013
Format: Blu-ray
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant Video
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2015
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2015
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2013
Format: DVD
Promised Land 4.5 stars★ (a nearly there 5 star movie)

This is a 2012 American drama directed by Gus Van Sant and co-written by Matt Damon and John Krasinski. It's also based on a story by Dave Eggers, but what I'm not sure. It starts off slow with Steve (Matt Damon) and Sue (Frances McDormand) sent off to a small Pennsylvania farm town. They work for Global Crosspower Solutions (a "natural gas" co.). Their soul job is to try to get land owners to sell a portion of their land so that they can "frack" for gas. So this plot is a political one. But I thought it was well done in showing the choices the farm owners had to make. The script and people felt real to me.

There isn't much to like about Steve and Sue at the beginning. They're there for what they think is just a job. They're the door-to-door sales people. The ones you'd slam the door on their face, well at least I would. lol. But they did get me to like them as a person. Not as a sales person. I think I liked Frances's character the most. Though she doesn't do or say much, but when she does, I think it's great.

Small spoiler
Then comes John Krasinski's environmentalist character, Dustin Noble. He was a bit of a surprise. After the surprise (which wasn't much of a surprise to my grandpa), I was a little bit unsure of who I should cheer for. But I did like Steve's speech at the end.
end spoiler

Al in all I thought this was a good movie. My gramps, mom and I all liked this. Just thought it was a little slow at times, that's why I'm not giving it a complete 5 stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
Streamed the movie to my laptop then to the TV. Quality was great. Acting was good; story was good. enjoyed it all.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
We enjoyed it. Have to pay attention to get the nuances but its a timely story of the tension between a love for the land and financial needs. Loved seeing Hal Holbrook again as the elderly sage in a tiny rural community. The corporate power looms large but ultimately the rural folks must determine the truth and find the balance between their heritage, environment, and financial needs.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video
Back in 1966, the mean old Grinch hated the Whos down in Whoville, so he built a sled, tied his poor dog to that sled, and headed down the mountain to steal Christmas from the town. Not that I need to tell you how it ends, but towards the end, the Grinch had a change of heart -- after all, his heart grew three sizes that day -- and he returned all the toys back to Whoville. Oh, and he joined hands with all the Whos and sang Kumbaya. Or at least "Abu dore, fabu fore. . . ."

Then in 2012, Matt Damon -- a mean guy who works for a large energy firm -- couldn't care less about a small Pennsylvania town, so he got in his car, headed there and. . . .

Oh, I don't need to tell you how it ends, because you already know the story. You've seen it a thousand times really, at least once if you watched "The Grinch," which everyone has. Without giving anything away, however, there is one twist here that almost made this film interesting. And I will admit, that twist was mildly surprising.

But what's even more surprising to me: someone like Mr. Damon -- who wrote the near perfect screenplay for "Good Will Hunting" (GWH) going on nearly two decades ago -- also wrote this one. Perhaps more surprisingly still, quality actors such as Hal Holbrook and Frances McDormand still signed on to this film, even after reading the script. (They did read the script, didn't they? Or did they just assume that this would be another GWH?)

To be fair, though, I hate to rip on this film, because I am a pretty big fan of Mr. Damon. Naturally, I really like GWH, and I even liked films such as "We Bought a Zoo." I argued a while back that, to me, M. Night Shyamalan could have done nothing after making "The Sixth Sense," and his career still would have been great. That film was that good. And to me, Mr. Damon's work on GWH was nearly that validating as well, so I shouldn't get too uptight if he makes a film that really falls short.

Not that it's Christmas -- that holiday has come and gone, and we'll have to wait another 10 months or so now for the next one -- but why not watch "Grinch" instead of "Promised Land"? The story is basically the same, but the Grinch was a film that actually had a real heart.
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