All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front ★★★

The original All Quiet on the Western Front from 1930 is one of my favorite movies in the war genre. The story is incredibly well told and the war was extremely intense while still keeping memorable characters with some devastating character deaths and powerful moments that have stuck with me. When I heard this remake was coming out I wasn’t really sure what to think but from the initial trailer it looked like the war action would be upped. I was hoping that this one could live up to the original because of this and I had high expectations for this remake. 

First things first the war action is absolutely fantastic. I was heavily impressed with how violent and how brutal the war in this movie felt. Just seeing the injuries, burn marks, or even just the dirt on someone’s face just felt painful like you were right in the middle of combat with the soldiers. I was definitely immersed in the battlefield whenever a sequence was going on. I’m not sure why but the look of the movie heavily reminds me of 1917 so that was a bit of a coincidence too. The action is definitely the peak of this movie though as it really struggled to tell an interesting story for me outside of that. I personally found the performances and the characters in this film to be very unmemorable and bland. Paul in particular really just felt one note and not at all interesting. For this reason alone I had a very hard time connecting with the characters or care about the deaths that are supposed to hit harder when it comes to a story about war. All of Paul’s friends were pretty much interchangeable for me and I had a hard time keeping track of who everyone even was due to nobody standing out to me. When one of them gets critically injured and dies it just kind of made me shrug and move on as well as moments like one of them getting shot after stealing from a farmer. It all just felt so lackluster because I felt like all of the time was spent dedicated to making the war action so brutal that they forgot to make a compelling narrative. All of the powerful moments that were meant to hit hard just felt very underwhelming. That is except for the moment where Paul gets trapped in a crater with an enemy soldier who he watches die because this moment was just as powerful now as it was in the original exposing the true harsh reality of war that any weapon or explosion will fail to convey as powerful as this. Paul having to see the man he stabbed slowly die has always been the moment that stuck out from this story above the others and it was the one scene that I felt the filmmakers knocked it out of the park. This remake was a bit shorter than the original film but it honestly felt way longer because the characterization was basically nonexistent for me. I wanted to get behind the characters and root for them to survive but I just couldn’t care enough to do so. 

Conclusion: Probably one of my biggest disappointments of the year for me. I really only rate it this high for the action because it is absolutely excellent. The story and characters though are just very one note and not at all interesting. I think I’ll just stick with the original because despite being dated, it’s still much more engaging for me in a way this film just couldn’t achieve. If you absolutely love war movies you’ll probably like this more than me, but for me I doubt this will be a film that comes to mind when I think of the greatest war movies. 


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