Generally favorable reviews - based on 20 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 80 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Rewarded for his heroism in the Civil War, Lt. Dunbar (Costner) wants to see the American frontier before it is gone. He is assigned to an adandoned fort, where a sioux tribe is his only neighbor. Overcoming the language barrier and their mutual fear and distrust, Dunbar and the proud Indians gradually become friends. Eventually, he falls in love with the beautiful Stands With a Fist (McDonnell), a white woman raised by the tribe. (MGM) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 20
  2. Negative: 1 out of 20
  1. 100
    This movie moves so confidently and looks so good it seems incredible that it's a directorial debut.
  2. 100
    A clear-eyed vision. Authentic as an Edward Curtis photograph, lyrical as a George Catlin oil or a Karl Bodmer landscape, this is a film with a pure ring to it. It's impossible to call it anything but epic [9 Nov 1990, Calendar, p.F-1]
  3. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    Costner's directing style is fresh and assured. A sense of surprise and humor accompany Dunbar's adventures at every turn, twisting the narrative gently this way and that and making the journey a real pleasure.
  4. The film's politically correct repudiation of the familiar black-and-white characterizations of the white and red man is ultimately undermined, however, when the pendulum swings too far in the other direction.
  5. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Ultimately, this film is more interesting than rousing; missing is a John Ford-ian wealth of idiosyncratic characters. [9 Nov 1990, Life, 4D]
  6. Smoothly directed by Kevin Costner, who also gives a sensitive performance in the leading role. The screenplay is often trite, however, and there's no reason for the picture's three-hour length. [9 Nov 1990, Arts, p.12]
  7. 30
    The movie is childishly naïve... like a New Age social-studies lesson. It isn't really revisionist; it's the old stuff toned down and sensitized. [17 Dec 1990]

See all 20 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. Mar 6, 2012
    a great film where you look, with a technical section that nothing blockbusters envy, besides being a heartwarming story of valuesâ
  2. Mar 9, 2013
    With its great direction and extremely well acted and written plot, Dances With Wolves suceeds in all standards.
  3. Jun 18, 2011
    Dances With Wolves is the 1990s version of Avatar. Wait, let me rephrase that; Avatar is a 2000's version of Dances With Wolves. It's well-done, exciting, and truly emotional. It's Kevin Costner's best film,for none of his other's can beat it. It gets you emotionally drawn to the film throughout, and you never want any of the characters to be forgotten. While watching the film, I quickly realized it resembled many characteristics that I had seen in previous movies. The cinematography, the acting, and the story had all been recreated in films that had come out after the movie, and this was a basic beginner of many films in Hollywood. Itââ Collapse
  4. Feb 25, 2014
    Phenomenal film. First off, the cinematography is breathtaking. Just absolutely stunning. The mise en scene, as a whole, is great as well as the scenery was top-notch. In addition, the soundtrack made me absolutely swoon. If I had not already been swept off of my feet, the soundtrack would have swept me off my feet, but in the end, it just serves as further evidence of the sheer beauty of this film. Just wow. In terms of the story, I thought it, as well, was beautifully presented. From the early encounters to the very end, there is a certain beauty to the interaction between the characters as Dunbar adjusts to his new situation. In terms of the acting, Kevin Costner and a cast of relative unknowns did a great job. Initially, I was unsure about Costner and did not like his performance that much in the beginning, but as the film progressed, he won me over completely. The final note I want to make is on the length. It is three hours, so it is up there in terms of time, but it never really shows its length. Instead, it almost tricks you into thinking it is much shorter in the way it utilizes every second to tell its story. Expand
  5. Oct 31, 2010
    its like Avatar with indians in this entertaining movie.
  6. Jan 12, 2012
    A very good, even though a little bit naive movie. Kevin Costner is one of the worst actors I've ever seen, but he seems to work well for this particular one - plus the supporting cast really did their best. The plot is really simple, but it can keep the viewer interested, and the part when Dunbar got to be friends with the Sioux was heartwarming. Beautiful visuals and music complete a movie that is definitely worth watching. Expand
  7. Mar 1, 2011
    I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. A great story with great acting and directing. Although it has conflict with Native Americans it was really nice to see a story with such great humanity and friendship with them. It is seriously long and honestly, I don't think I could ever watch it again but it was great. Expand

See all 21 User Reviews