(Review originally written at 26 February 2008)

This is definitely a very professionally made movie with also some great acting but the movie falls short with its most crucial and emotional moments and also ends on a very false note.

It's also made fairly obviously throughout this movie that it had a fairly low budget. Some of the special effects are simply below par by todays standards and the plane crash itself is also done quite laughable to be honest, clearly because they didn't had the right resources and money to do it any better. Bet most of the money went into the fact that his movie was shot in location in Thailand. Accordingly, the movie had a $10,000,000 budget, so no wonder the movie looked the way it did. But I have to admit that the movie is definitely better looking then its budget might indicate. Werner Herzog shows he's a capable director, who can work around things.

The story on its own is quite good and intriguing, also not in the least because its based on a true story, though the movie obviously takes lots of liberties with it. The movie has some good and effective psychological elements such as the question to escape or not to escape. The movie does a good job at getting you in the minds of the prisoners and be able to understand each of their motivations.

But as far as POW movies go, the movie doesn't really provide anything new or shocking. The movie touches all fairly familiar grounds and perhaps doesn't do a good enough job creating a tense and dangerous atmosphere of a POW camp. Or perhaps this is also because of the reason that you just KNOW in advance that at least the main character escapes and survives, since this movie got based on his story.

The ending should had been way more smaller and personal, to make it also more emotional and therefore powerful and effective. It now instead has a big, totally unbelievable and overblown typical Hollywood ending. I don't know what it is with German directors but their are often more patriotic and overblown when it comes down to Hollywood and American elements, then most American directors. For example also see Roland Emmerich, who made movies such as "Independence Day" and "The Patriot".

Perhaps its the cast, next to its professional directing, that make the movie still work out as a good one. Christian Bale is great as always (when will he get his Oscar?), in a role for which he once more lost a significant amount of weight. Same goes for the other actors portraying the prisoners, such as Steve Zahn and Jeremy Davies. Also especially is really great in his role. He has a great, distinctive and very recognizable way of acting.

It's a real good movie but really, is it worthy of all that praise and high rating on here? Really a bit too much credit all.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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