Maxwell's ambitious second film in his "Civil War trilogy" is exquisite in its attention to period detail, and grand in its depiction of the battles it covers, but suffers when it gets to the stories of the men it portrays. A prequel to 1993's "Gettysburg," this one covers the years 1861-63, beginning with Gen. Lee (Duvall) declining command of the Union Army, through the battles of First Manassas, Fredericksburg, and Chancelorsville, and finishing with Stonewall Jackson's death and the events leading up to Gettysburg. The main problem is that the dialogue (housed in many self-important and overlong speeches) is stilted, lifeless, and humorless, which handcuffs a very talented cast. Historic personages are raised to icon status, showing none of the real-life flaws that would've made them interesting. Based on the novel by Jeffrey M. Shaara.