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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Movie Review: The Red Baron (mild spoilers)

I don't usually post movie reviews on this blog, but since I'm on a World War One kick as I'm preparing to start my Trench Raiders series, I've been doing a lot of reading and watching some WWI films.

The Red Baron came out in 2008 and I've been wanting to see it ever since. This week I finally got my chance and I have to say I was disappointed. Matthias Schweighöfer played Manfred von Richthofen and did a flat and uncharismatic performance. The supporting actors were equally unimpressive.

I could have forgiven this if the script were better, but this is where the film really falls down. Despite being two hours long, the movie is jumpy and episodic, often becoming a bit confusing. It was like a real movie stuck on fast forward with some of the scenes missing.

And the missing scenes were the most important, like the dog fight where the Red Baron suffered his head injury and also the final dogfight that ended in his death. They also skipped the epic dogfight between Lt. Werner Voss and eight British aircraft. Instead they added a fictitious love interest between Richthofen and a nurse that came out insipid and smacking of daytime television.

It's a real shame that they cut down on the action scenes because the two aerial battles they do show are brilliantly done, some of best action sequences on film. Why, in a film about a flying ace, are there so few of them?

Then there are the historical inaccuracies, like Richthofen and Canadian pilot Capt. Roy Brown meeting for a friendly drink in No Man's Land, the love interest, heaps of anachronisms, and Richthofen developing pacifistic ideals and the hint that he let himself get shot down in order to hasten the end of the war. Um, no.

This movie gets two out of five stars. Hopefully some better director with a better script will step forward and give us a Red Baron movie worthy of the name.

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