Killing Lincoln is far from a perfect movie but offers some interesting information not many people might know about. The performances by Billy Campbell and Jesse Johnson are both respectable especially Johnson who probably deserves an Emmy nomination for his great portrayal of James Wilkes Booth. The Blu-ray released by Fox has good audio/video transfers and the features, albeit limited, does lend to some depth on the production.
Genre(s): History, Drama
Fox | NR – 96 min. – $29.99 | June 11, 2013
Directed by: Adrian Moat
Writer(s): Bill O’Reilly & Martin Dugard (book); Erik Jendresen (written by)
Cast: Tom Hanks (narrator), Billy Campbell, Jesse Johnson
Features: Commentary, Featurettes, UV Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Disc Size: 41.2 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 3.75/5
Plot Overview: Killing Lincoln is based on ‘The New York Times’ best-seller, written by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, the film tells the story of the events surrounding the assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln (BILLY CAMPBELL). While some aspects of the plot to slay Lincoln and cripple the newly forming union are widely known, much more of the history unfolds in this epic account. As actor John Wilkes Booth (JESSE JOHNSON) becomes increasingly obsessed with removing Lincoln from office, a secret plot forms, and ultimately empowers Booth to carry out an even that will change America forever.
Quick Hit Review: When I originally watched Killing Lincoln back when it originally aired on NatGeo I felt it was a glossy, well-made docu-drama – although in the featurettes the writer disputes that term – that outlined the days leading up to Lincoln’s assassination. While the movie itself isn’t the best, it does get bogged down with a strangely choppy narrative, the performances by Billy Campbell and Jesse Johnson, especially, makes this an intriguing film presenting information that many may not know about.
Directed by Adrian Moat, who had previously worked with The History Channel on the “Gettysburg” TV movie, and written by Erik Jendresen based, in part, on the bestselling book by O’Reilly and Dugard, Killing Lincoln is far from perfect but still well done and at least worth one viewing.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.0/5
Feature Commentary – Executive Producer/Screenwriter Erik Jendresen sits down for a law key yet revealing commentary discussing his research for the movie and provides some bits of information. For a solo track, Jendresen is relatively lively and keeps things interesting.
An Interview with Author Bill O’Reilly (5:04; HD) provides his insights into the book and the importance of Abraham Lincoln. He also discusses the TV adaptation and how it worked.
Uncovering the Truth: The Making of Killing Lincoln (22:22; HD) – This featurette looks at how the movie was made, providing some behind-the-scenes footage overlapped with interviews with the filmmakers and producers (including Ridley Scott).
Lincoln in Virginia (0:17; HD) is a short advertisement for the state.
Promotional Features (TRT 10:26):
Becoming Booth (2:39; HD) – Jesse Johnson discusses the character and getting into the role and getting the movement and the voice he thought would match Booth.
Becoming Lincoln (2:00; HD) is in similar fashion with Billy Campbell talking about getting into character of such a historical figure. Interestingly he got offered the part only 5 days before filming.
Playing Mary Todd (1:51; HD) – Actress Geraldine Hughes talks about playing the First Lady.
Directing a New Lincoln Story (2:16; HD) – Director Adrian Moat explains his approach to helming the movie and importance of the subject.
Killing Lincoln Preview (1:39; HD) is a vastly condensed version of interviews to promote the movie.
Previews – Atlas Shrugged Part II, “The Bible” Miniseries, The Oranges
VIDEO – 4.0/5
Killing Lincoln arrives on Blu-ray shown in its original 1.78 widescreen presentation and a glossy 1080p high-def transfer. Like most projects shot digitally and made for television, KL is smooth as they come with some good detail level and transition, albeit skin tones do have a waxy texture. The docu-drama was filmed with using dark colors like browns and such so it’s not something that pops off the screen exactly but it’s satisfactory.
AUDIO – 3.75/5
Similarly, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track isn’t the most dynamic I’ve heard but it sure beats the regular television speakers when I first watched this special when it aired. The dialogue levels are nice and clear, especially for Tom Hanks’ narration, and when we do get some other action (horses’ galloping and that gunshot) mostly uses the front and rear channels. This isn’t too bad of a track but given its source, the sound design was minimal.
OVERALL – 3.5/5
Overall, Killing Lincoln is far from a perfect movie but offers some interesting information not many people might know about. The performances by Billy Campbell and Jesse Johnson are both respectable especially Johnson who probably deserves an Emmy nomination for his great portrayal of James Wilkes Booth. The Blu-ray released by Fox has good audio/video transfers and the features, albeit limited, does lend to some depth on the production.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.