First I need to say that this is a dramatic film based on historical events and not a documentary. They did include as much history as possible but some things were exaggerated for dramatic effect and storytelling in general. They also included splash screens at the beginning and ending of the movie that set up the story by giving a historical account of how the party got there and what happened to them after the ending of the movie.
Knowing that it wasn’t a documentary helped me enjoy this gripping tale of the doomed Donner Party. I can say it was told very well and Crispin Glover did an excellent job as the leader of the party and the leader of the Forlorn Hope expedition. When events turned for the worst you could believe he had gone a bit crazy from the look in his eye and the set of his jaw. I also liked that he was sporting a beard and moustache as I think it gives his face better definition.
There was only one place in the movie that needed to be re-edited in my opinion because it seemed to drag the pace of the movie down and really didn’t serve any purpose. It’s a scene where they are walking off into the woods. It seemed to me that the camera just stayed on them too long and should’ve been shortened a bit. I did find it a bit sad that the Forlorn Hope made it to within 5 miles of civilization by the end of the movie even if they characters didn’t know just how close they actually were.
I enjoyed the tension that was brought on by the hunger as well as seeing how the characters interacted with each other in the face of such adversary. I’d recommend this as a rental and give it a solid 3 stars out of 5. While there are many other better movies out there this is one that you shouldn’t pass by.