The Good German

January 28, 2012 5 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Although the German forces have fallen, there is still much work to be done in Berlin. As a peace conference lies ahead, Jake Geismer (George Clooney) travels to Berlin, in order to cover the event as a journalist. The city should be in good spirits, with the war over and the world’s leaders about to take part in a historic peace ceremony. But instead, Berlin is overrun with underground activities, as chaos seems to run even after the battles have ended. Geismer finds himself surrounded by corruption and criminal lowlifes, including his assigned driver Corporal Tully (Tobey Maguire). Tully carries himself like a good old boy from the country, but in truth he is as crooked as can be. Tully keeps a prostitute on the side, a woman named Lena (Cate Blanchette), who happens to be a former informant and lover of Geismer. In fact, one of the main reasons Geismer returned to Berlin was to find her, but she isn’t as ready to be found. As mysteries begin to surround him and those he deals with, can Geismer learn the truth and even if so, what will become of him and Lena?

This is director Steven Soderbergh’s tribute of sorts to classic Hollywood war movies, in which he both pays homage to and reveals the conventions of those pictures. I wasn’t too thrilled about The Good German, as I am not a fan of George Clooney at all and Tobey Maguire is unremarkable. But the concept interested me and Cate Blanchette rarely disappoints, so I sat down and watched. As I had feared, Maguire is in way too deep, unable to keep his head above water and totally miscast. The role needed someone with more presence and as usual, Maguire is unable to fill the needed shoes. At least Clooney covers the basics, while Maguire drowns and really decreases the film’s overall depth. I appreciate the concept and the filmmakers did an admirable job trying to capture that old school style, but the movie didn’t click with me. The cast seemed to be lost in the material and while an interesting experiment, The Good German isn’t a good movie. But if you’re curious and want to check it out, it is worth a rental.

Video: How does it look?

The Good German is presented in full frame, as intended. The movie was shown in widescreen in theaters, but this full frame version represents the director’s intended vision. This is sure to delight some and offend others, but it is what it is and this is how the movie was intended to be shown. Also intentional is the slight grain seen and some other minor visual touches, seen as flaws, but part of the film’s visual design. So if the image isn’t as razor sharp as we’d like that, that is due more to the vision of the director, not a flawed transfer process. The movie looks good, but on the soft side and as stated, the grain is there. This might not look impressive, but the transfer is an accurate representation.

Audio: How does it sound?

The visuals might be old school, but the Dolby Digital 5.1 option isn’t. The audio here is loud and has good presence, so the film’s world is brought to life quite well. The surrounds won’t pound throughout, but there is a good deal of surround use, so this might be a low key film, but the sound delivers. The vocals come across as well as possible, with clear and crisp dialogue that is never lost in the shuffle. The real star however is the musical soundtrack, which has a lot of life here and uses the surrounds to make the music sweep through the home theater. This disc also includes a 2.0 surround option, French and Spanish language tracks, and subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes no bonus materials.

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