Once again, people crave for authenticity...the way it really happened....and once again, I say, "It's a movie. It's entertaining and moving....I didn't take my history book along to make sure it was totally accurate. I like escapism, and movies that move me." This movie did that. It's beautifully filmed by the respected Caleb Deschanel; the music by John Williams is moving, and the cast on a whole is exceptional. Mel Gibson has been labeled an okay actor, but if you look deep inside his performances, the man does his best in filling whatever shoes his role dictates. As the family-oriented and somewhat stubborn father, he evokes the pain he feels from his actions in an earlier battle with the French; he seems devastated by his youngest daughter's silence to him; and he loves his family. Joely Richardson is effectively cast as Mel's sister in law, who helps take care of his family during this crisis. Heath Ledger is all gungho and spirited as Gabriel, and plays well with the rest of his cast. Tom Wilkinson is superb as Cornwallis, a man steeped in tradition and British fanfare. His scene with Gibson in which the patriot negotiates for the release of his 18 prisoners is exceptional. Jason Isaacs is pure evil in his role as the heartless Haverton (or whatever), and shows that war to him is merely licensed murder. The rest of the supporting cast: Chris Cooper, Rene Auberjonois, Adam Baldwin, Gregory Smith, Mira Boorkem, and Donal Logue, in particular, are great additions.
The movie is a manipulative film, of course...how else would it work, but it's to director Roland Emmerich's credit, that when the credits were over, I felt moved and touched. That's what films are meant to be in my opinion.