Alan’s review published on Letterboxd:
Impeccably shot with a desolate message, All Quiet on the Western Front is a stark, merciless reminder of the futility of war.
It kicks off with an intro of naivety, just to flip the switch on the gents and promptly assign them in utter hellfire. This Germanic point of view of World War I is as ruthless as it is gripping, with a grounded center revolving around a few men’s perils to surviving each passing day. Edward Berger displays war with a forthright, remorseless direction, depicting it as what it has always been: a recurring massacre against humanity. It lets you bear witness to the shady internal politicking that leaders deal with, safe & sound, away from the bloodbaths, while the men on the frontline count every waking moment like it’s their last. It asks how much can a man persevere before they lose grasp of who they are anymore?
All the performances are well-rounded. Whether it’s them conveying pathos through quieter, intimate moments, or capturing the unparalleled anxiety anyone will feel when hundreds of bullets are firing directly at you, everyone did a great job. Cinematographer James Friend is out to get some respect because wow, he can shoot a fucking shot. If there’s any purposeful reason for doing this remake, I’d argue that the modern technical capabilities surpass the timeless, effectual story. There’s a greater visceral weight in seeing these men live in deplorable trench conditions, hoping with all their will for a ceasefire, only to be instructed to charge into their numbered gravesites.
I enjoy this project quite a lot because it meticulously breaks down all its characters, and it uses wartime as a means of exploring psychological turmoil. Four friends embark on a patriotic call of duty, only to immediately receive the harshest reality check possible. They can try all they want to make it to the end. But will it even be worth it? There are lots of brilliant exchanges, callous action, an atmosphere of forlornness, and a glimmering hope that’s rightfully extinguished by a deliberate ending. I do wish it would have hit harder (and not as cliché), but for what it’s worth, it fulfills its anti-war objective with a stern motive.
It's grim, precise, doesn’t hold back, and displays the true bestiality of man. Everyone’s choice, no matter how big or small, can become the determining factor between someone else’s life or death. It’s a powerful film that understands its one goal of condemning war of its distinguished semblance.
That tank reveal scene is incredible, and horrifying. My first thought was ‘won’t they fall into the trenches?’ My second thought was ‘Oh, that looked like it was quite painful.’