10/10 When the vast majority of movies I see weekly range from horrible to mediocre and Netflix original movies are 90% on the horrible side of that equation, I didn’t quite know what to expect from the latest adaptation of the novel that is seven years shy of 100 years old. On one hand, Netflix has been known for quantity over quality, just pumping out as much content as possible to keep audiences distracted from other streaming services as well as pushing far left, woke propaganda. On the other hand, the fact that this was a German film spoken in German with no signs of wokeness gave me hope. Not only did this film surprise me, it blew me away and is so far easily the best film of 2022. I re-visited the 1930 original film and it holds up incredibly well for how old it is, despite some limitations at the time. The 1979 iteration was made for television and had a big name cast, but ultimately was just a complete copy/paste of the original, superior film, falling short and adding absolutely nothing new. Films should only be remade if they can be improved upon or at least changed with some added originality instead of providing the exact same movie as before but with better special effects. The difference can be as vast as 2004’s “Dawn of the Dead” (major upgrade) and 2019’s “The Lion King” (copy/paste laziness). This film is easily the best version of the brutal and unforgiving World War I story and every change made was for the better. While some mild historical accuracy is sacrificed at the end of the film, it does make for an even more heart breaking climax than past adaptations. A woman audibly gasped in the final moments of the film, although I am guessing she hadn’t seen the original to know how it ended. Even though I knew how the film would play out, I was still in awe by the incredible film making on display across every aspect. The opening moments immediately grabbed my attention with its scenic shots overlayed with a haunting score that slightly reminded me of the late composer Jóhann Jóhannsson’s work on films like “Sicario”. Despite the film pushing two and a half hours long, the film never drags. The war scenes are realistic in their chaotic and horrific nature and when the action has ceased we get brief moments of levity followed by sobering realizations that the wide eyed, bushy tailed, naïve boys they were when they left for war either won’t come back home at all and if they do, they will be forever changed by the horrors of mankind they have witnessed. The acting is fantastic across the board including standouts Felix Kammerer as Paul Bäumer and Albrecht Schuch as Stanislaus Katczinsky AKA Kat. Paul’s loss of innocence is absolutely heart breaking and Kat is a tough, grizzled leader with lots of experience on the surface but who mourns for a dead son back home as he longs to be reunited with his wife. The direction from co-writer/director Edward Berger is easily some of the strongest of the year. His scene transitions go from soldiers covered in mud and blood, as filthy as humanely possible and then cut in stark contrast to high ranking officers of the German high command, fine dining, smoking cigars in perfectly immaculate uniforms while their inferiors pour their wine for them. While men fight a losing war and just want to go home with whatever body parts remain intact, egotistical, selfish higher ups pay no mind to killing thousands more of their own men, despite knowing that it won’t make a difference in the long run. The grisly, graphic horrors of WWI are on full display, which is wise to not shy away from the brutality of war. Sugar coating some of mankind’s worst atrocities serves no one and the graphic depiction of one of the most brutal wars of all time adds greatly to its anti-war messaging. This film is not for the faint of heart but is a must see if you can stomach the heart break. Last year’s best film, “Drive My Car” was a Japanese film and it will be hard to beat this German film in 2022. While Hollywood continues to put out worse and worse content, caring more about pushing radical, politically correct garbage and catering to as many demographics as possible, foreign countries are more focused on simply telling compelling stories with moving screenplays and award caliber acting. Hollywood would be wise to take note and follow the lead from these other countries and their talented artists.

#KatastrophicLosses / #AllRiotOnTheWesternGrunt / #ThereWillBeMud / #SommeBoysDontLeave / #VerdunForTheDay / #StarringJudiTrench

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