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Movie Review: 'Promised Land' a Well-Meaning Movie That Falls Short

The drama stars Matt Damon, Hal Holbrook and John Krasinski.

Oscar-winning screenwriter Matt Damon has reunited with his "Good Will Hunting" director Gus Van Sant for the film "Promised Land," what Annlee Ellingson, writing for Paste Magazine, calls an "earnest environmental drama centered on natural gas extraction — aka fracking." 

Damon portrays a corporate salesman sent to a key rural Pennsylvania town on which his company's sights are set on expansion. What seems like an easy job — convincing the struggling residents to sign away drilling rights to their properties — is complicated by the objections of a retired schoolteacher and scientist, played by Hal Holbrook, and an environmental activist played by John Krasinski

The bottom line from Todd McCarthy writing for The Hollywood Reporter? "A sympathetic but dramatically choppy look at a small town beset by an environmental choice." 

McCarthy writes that the movie "isn't quite rich or full-bodied enough to entirely pay off." 

Here's what other critics have to say: 

Though the film eventually caves to sentiment and stereotype, its alert performances and muted rhythms offer much to enjoy in the interim. — Jeannette Catsoulis, NPR
There’s an original idea located somewhere near (but not at) the heart of Promised Land: start with what would normally be an obvious storyline about a good environmentalist (Dustin Noble, played by John Krasinski) vs. a heartless corporate tool (Steve Butler, in the person of Matt Damon), but make the “villain” a fairly decent guy and the “hero” something of a jerk. Unfortunately, the script, by Damon and Krasinski themselves (from a story by Dave Eggers) can’t seem to figure out what to do with its own concept, and ultimately, by virtue of a third-act plot twist, it’s obliterated. — Mitch Salem, Screened
No anti-corporate screed, this gentle tale is modest in its ambitions, with a cast of sympathetic characters and an unpredictable arc. That blend of elements is the key to its appeal, undermined by a rather pat final resolution. — Claudia Puig for USA Today
“Promised Land” has its heart on its sleeve and its pro-environment message is quite clear, but it's in the looser and more ambiguous places that the film actually works. — Christy Lemire, Associated Press
One of several ways this well-meaning picture falls short is in trying to sell a personal-salvation story as a salve to the conundrum it presents. As it unfolds on screen, it doesn't wash. — Glenn Kenny, MSN Movies

Click here for Regal Mall of Georgia showtimes. (This movie is not currently playing at the Hamilton Mill 14.)

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Janet3212 January 06, 2013 at 01:40 AM
One of the worst movies I have ever seen. This was my girlfriends choice so I went. I would categorize this movie along with "You've Got Mail" which starred Tom Hanks. If you watch the trailer you know the whole movie. Matt Damon is one of the worst actors around and he ripped me off with this piece of crap of a movie.

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