As a big history nut, I have always loved watching movies about America’s bloodiest war—the Civil War (Gone with the Wind, Glory, Lincoln, to name a few). I have never heard about the story behind Free State of Jones in any of my history classes until I saw a preview of it. There are plenty of beautiful shots in the movie, kudos to director Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, The Hunger Games). Besides the brutal depictions of the war, he offers too little while showing too much in this overlong, sluggish, preachy Civil War film. Matthew McConaughey gives a lot of charisma in his performance as Newton Knight, who the leads a rebellion (consisting of slaves and farmers) against the Confederate army. With a forgettable supporting cast and redundant plot threads, Free State of Jones had too much potential to be good. It would have been better as an American Experience documentary.