DVD Review: Water for Elephants – plus, a DVD/Book Bundle giveaway!

Take a journey back in time with the romantic tale based on Sara Gruen’s New York Times #1 Best-Seller novel of the same name, Water for Elephants, coming to Blu-ray and DVD on November 1st from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. Starring Academy Award®-winner Reese Witherspoon (Walk The Line), Robert Pattinson (Twilight series) and Oscar®-winner Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds), the film presents an epic tale of forbidden love in a magical place filled with adventure, wonder and great danger. Showcasing the decadence of a bohemian circus and the majesty of its animals against the backdrop and beauty of a bygone era, Water for Elephants makes the ideal holiday gift idea for your favorite film buff, fashionista or book-lover!

Devastated by the sudden death of his parents at the height of The Depression, a young dreamer from the wrong side of the tracks, Jacob Jankowski (Pattinson), abandons his veterinary studies at Cornell University. With no other family, no house, and no money, Jacob stows away on a train carrying the circus performers of The Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Hired as a veterinarian to care for the troupe’s animals, Jacob is temporarily filled with the promise of an exciting life that comes with a traveling circus troupe. However, as he builds a rapport and falls in love with the star of the show, Marlena (Witherspoon), they become prey to the circus’s owner, Marlena’s violent and abusive husband August (Waltz). As the circus begins to crumble from within and against all odds, Jacob and Marlena come together and fall in love through their compassion for a special elephant. With their love on the line, Jacob and Marlena come to a crossroads that will forever change their destiny.

Directed by critically-acclaimed filmmaker Francis Lawrence (Constantine), Water for Elephants features fantastic supporting performances from Paul Schneider (Lars and the Real Girl), Jim Norton (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), Mark Povinelli (The Polar Express), Richard Brake (Batman Begins), and Academy Award®-nominee Hal Holbrook (Into the Wild).

The DVD special features include: Robert Pattinson Spotlight; Feature Performer Reese Witherspoon; The Traveling Show: From Page to Screen; Audio Commentary with Director Francis Lawrence and Writer Richard LaGravenese; and Theatrical Trailer.

I loved the book Water for Elephants (my review), and was so excited to hear that a film version was being planned. Then I read about the casting. Robert Pattinson? Edward? Really? I wasn’t happy, but…. I decided to hold on to my reservations and give the movie a chance.

I didn’t get a chance to see it in the theater, though, because I live in a little rural community with a one-screen theater, and we only get “commercial” films. When I was offered a screener copy on DVD, I jumped at it, and immediately scheduled a movie night with my best friend, Michelle.

This movie amazed me. I hoped I would like it. I had slight hopes that Robert Pattinson would be adequate. What I didn’t expect was to completely get sucked into the film within the first fifteen minutes. I didn’t expect to forget that it was Edward up there on the screen, but I did. Pattinson was completely believable as Jacob, and even though the age difference between Jacob and Marlena seemed larger in the movie than in the book, the two actors had fantastic chemistry.

Not only was the main couple cast very well, but the casting was solid all around. Christopher Waltz was truly chilling in his portrayal of the sadistic August. The scenes between August and Marlena, and August and the elephant, Rosie, were disturbing.

Best of all, the filmmakers were smart enough to know that Sara Gruen’s story didn’t need any tweaking, and they followed the book very closely. It was a surprising experience to walk away from a film adaptation without thinking, “They really screwed it up.” For once, they got it exactly right.

Thanks to the generosity of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, I am thrilled to be able to offer one lucky reader of my blog a DVD/book bundle of Water for Elephants.

Here’s how to enter:

~ To enter, please leave a comment below.

~ One entry per person, please. Entrants must have a US or Canadian mailing address.

~ All entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. PST, Friday, November 11, 2011. On November 12th, I will use Random.org to draw the winner and announce him/her here at Books and Movies.

Good luck!

Also, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has put together a reading/viewing guide to enhance your experience:

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17 Responses to DVD Review: Water for Elephants – plus, a DVD/Book Bundle giveaway!

  1. Laura Kay says:

    I haven’t read the book or saw the movie, yet! So I would be thrilled to win! Thanks for such a great giveaway!

  2. Lisa Ridgley says:

    I’m so often disappointed in movies based on books that I love, I’ve told myself I just won’t watch them anymore. Your review has me second guessing that. I loved the book and shared it with several friends and family. Hopefully, I’ll be recommending the movie too.

  3. rhonda lomazow
    Twitter: rhondareads

    would love to read the book and see the movie.

  4. Kailana says:

    I really enjoyed the book, so I dragged the guy to see the movie and we were both impressed. It was really well-done!

  5. Melissa
    Twitter: myeclecticbooks

    I’ve read the book and then seen the movie with my book club! I was amazed at how well done the movie was….not exactly like the book but definitely faithful to it’s spirit! And I think that Christopher Waltz stole the show!!

    ? Melissa @ Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf

    Twitter: jenn_jen_d

    I loved this book, and lent it to a friend and never got it back. I guess she loved it too! So, to win a copy of the book and the movie would be fantastic!! Fingers Crossed

  7. Terri M says:

    haven’t read the book, either. would love to win this! thanks!

  8. Anita Yancey says:

    I haven’t read the book or seen the movie, but I would love to. Please enter me. Thanks!

  9. Water For Elephants was given to me for Christmas several years ago as a “gag” gift because I had a weird dream about the circus. The “gag” gift turned out to be one of the best books I had read in a LONG time. 🙂 Both of my daughters read it too and loved it. My youngest daughter and I went to see the movie on opening night…and she LOVES the movie. I would love to win as I would give it to her for Christmas!!! 🙂 Thanks for the giveaway.

  10. Natasha W says:

    I haven’t seen the movie or read the book. I have plans to do both and if I win I can!!!



  11. stacybuckeye says:

    Oh, pick me! My Mom has been gushing about the book that she borrowed from a friend. I’d love the read the books then watch the movie with her.
    stacybooks at yahoo

  12. Carol M
    Twitter: CarolAnnM

    I’ve heard so many good things about this book! I’d be thrilled if I won it and the movie! Thank you so much for the giveaway!

  13. Andrew B says:

    I have been waiting to see this movie! The trailer for it was just so phenomenal, and am on a library hold list for the book!

  14. latisha depoortere says:

    What a great giveaway thank you so much I can’t wait for the Dvd to watch this at home! I never read the book but always wanted to thanks for the chance!

  15. Amy
    Twitter: amymelniczenko

    I’m dying to see this movie! Loved the book, so glad to hear that you enjoyed the movie so much! What a great giveaway! Thanks!

  16. Ashley Chattaway
    Twitter: acchattawaygmail.com

    The movie looks wonderful! And I’ve heard such good things about the book!

  17. Lisa Potts says:

    I loved the book but don’t own it and I have been dying to see the movie. Thanks for the chance to win!