Water for Elephants

Directed By: Francis Lawrence

Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, and Christoph Waltz

The circus is a truly magical place.  We all have fond memories of it being where the eccentric becomes the exceptional and the impossible becomes the incredible.  It's a place where freaks become deities.  For many kids, it can be the most spectacular place on Earth.  As great as the circus is, there's one thing it isn't—a particularly romantic place.  How many people think about getting lucky at the circus?  Not a damn one.  It may offer a one-of-a-kind experience, but not necessarily a romantic one. That's the reason for which Francis Lawrence's Water for Elephants fails so miserably.  The spectacle of the circus is anything but romantic.

An old man named Jacob Jankowski (older- Hal Holbrook, younger- Robert Pattinson) hangs around a little too long at the circus one night, and the circus owner is ready to call the retirement home to have their staff come and pick him up.  Instead, the old man tells him about his own career in this magical world and his memory of the Benzini Bros. disaster of 1931, one of the most devastating circus accidents on record.  Jacob tells the circus owner of how his life plan goes to hell when his parents die and he drops out of Cornell.  He tells him about how August Rosenbluth (Christoph Waltz) takes him in as the resident veterinarian for the Benzini Bros. show.  Jacob also tells him about how he falls in love with August's wife Marlena (Reese Witherspoon) and how this starts a chain of events that inevitably lead to disaster.

In Water for Elephants, director Francis Lawrence does indeed bring the magic of the circus to the big screen.  The cinematography and aesthetics of the film are majestic.  With every breathtaking image of the August's train and every vibrant vision of life under the circus tent, Lawrence creates an incredible world.  While the visuals may be beautiful in a grandiose way, the film is missing something much more basic, namely any romantic sparks between its two leads.  This adaptation of the Sara Gruen novel is a well-made film that lacks any semblance of romance.

Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson have absolutely no chemistry as lovers on screen.  Watching these two is unbelievably boring.  That 10-year age difference clearly makes it a challenging task for the two actors.  While Witherspoon is known for lots of romance flicks, she's not known for playing the cougar.  The Oscar-winning actress just doesn't get the job done here.  Poor Robert Pattinson has been stuck in Twilight films too long to remember what good acting is.  He's now used to much lower standards.  Team Edward is clearly not Team Awesome in Water for Elephants.

Water for Elephants is a beautifully filmed motion picture.  Francis Lawrence gives us an elegant depiction of the circus.  Nonetheless, it sucks.  It's certainly not the most spectacular show on Earth.  With no chemistry between Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson, we as viewers have nothing to hold our attention.  Impressive visuals are simply not enough to make this movie entertaining.  Have a few whiskey sours with this one.  Water for Elephants gets a 0.09% rating.