Talking Movies: All Quiet on the Western Front, Men and Ambulance

Spling reviews All Quiet on the Western Front, Men and Ambulance as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Listen to podcast.


Good morning – welcome to Talking Movies, I’m Spling…

This week, we’re talking about an anti-war action drama, a horror drama and an action thriller.

Starting off with a film now on Netflix…


A young German soldier’s terrifying experiences and distress on the western front during World War I.

Director: Edward Berger

Stars: Felix Kammerer, Albrecht Schuch and Aaron Hilmer

– All Quiet on the Western Front is a re-adaptation of a book by Erich Maria Remarque, which was originally adapted to film in 1930.
– A film debut for the director, this epic war drama thriller is a visual masterpiece, which goes to great lengths to capture the bleak mud and blood of trench warfare from World War I.
– Taken from a German soldier’s perspective, this wide-eyed chronicle journeys with several young conscripts as their experiences of fighting for their country shape, break or kill them.
– Using nature’s constant to bookend the conscript’s story, the pointlessness of sending hundreds of thousands to their death in an attempt to advance a few hundred metres echoes the hellish insanity behind war.
– It’s somewhat reminiscent of the Sam Mendes simulated single shot war epic 1917 for scale, bystander perspective and lead temperament.
– Creating visceral and sprawling war scenes, All Quiet on the Western Front is an absolute spectacle, crafting an immersive and gutwrenching cinematic experience about the utter meaninglessness of war.
– Remaining aloof, keeping some distance with its characters, there is a tendency to feel like you are watching from the outside in, in spite of the film’s intimate fly-on-the-wall perspective.
– A bit anonymous, perhaps this device is purposeful in its attempt to provide a non-heroic depiction and a vicarious in, yet it leaves one adrift.
– This war drama is composed of many powerful moments, underscoring the madness and futility of being a soldier without war.
– Compelled by a minimalist soundtrack, this visually captivating film may run almost 2 and half hours, yet its cinematography, artful execution, raw authenticity and transportive mis-en-scene keep you transfixed.

An excellent 8 on the splingometer!

Moving on to a film now on Labia Home Screen…


A young woman goes on a solo vacation to the English countryside following the death of her husband.

Writer-Director: Alex Garland

Stars: Jessie Buckley, Rory Kinnear and Paapa Essiedu

– Alex Garland is the visionary director behind sci-fi thrillers Annihilation and Ex Machina.
– Steering away from sci-fi and into the realm of horror, the accomplished and imaginative filmmaker has ventured into the evergreen topic of gender politics, grief, trauma and recovery.
– Pivoting off a dysfunctional marriage on the verge of divorce, this atmospheric and suspenseful horror drama thriller serves as a character portrait and by extension social commentary using the ancient symbols of the Green Man and Sheela na gig.
– Exploring a woman’s attempt to recover from a tragedy, Garland cleverly seesaws the real and unreal to heighten the tension belying this slow-burning thriller.
– As a high concept horror, the eeriness is pervasive yet its full effect is often stunted by its unintentional comedic undertones.
– Offering a poetic subtext, all of the men come to represent various micro to macro aggressions.
– Strong co-lead performances from Buckley and Kinnear drive the drama, while the grotesque visuals enhance the metaphor and innate creepiness.
– Instead of a direct take, unsettling power dynamics, nudity and surreal visual effects create an otherworldly paradigm against the backdrop of an old English village and nearby forest.
– An elevated horror, the body horror and vivid depictions make for an altogether challenging viewing experience.
– While Garland’s vision of misogyny is eerie and provocative, warranting deeper exploration, its full effect is not always felt.

A solid 7 on the splingometer!

And finally a movie now on Google Movies…


Two robbers steal an ambulance after their heist goes awry.

Director: Michael Bay

Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Eiza González

– Michael Bay is a director who has become synonymous with the Transformers series, having made a name for himself with action thrillers such as The Rock and Bad Boys.
– Going for colourful, flashy and eye-popping visuals, his films have an excess, intensity and trademark flair.
– Employing is brash, visually intensive and over-the-top styling, he has essentially created a feature-length car chase based on the Danish film “Ambulancen”.
– Gyllenhaal’s presence is reassuring as the villain, delivering what could be described as a Nicolas Cage style performance.
– While Bay does stretch the limits by going well over two hours, somehow this thrill ride continues to reposition itself through its talking head mix of characters, do-or-die situations and cat-and-mouse gamesmanship.
– Moving at a breakneck speed, keeping up the intensity with a choppy edit and a swirling mix of flashy visuals, there’s rarely a dull moment.
– While the premise is simple to ludicrous and the dialogue is mostly attitude, the conviction of the performances and the steady flow of car chase, hot pursuit, street smarts, emotionality and stunt work keep you transfixed.
– The continuous car chase may begin to feel like a Tom & Jerry loop but remains dedicated to your entertainment and constantly in pursuit of the Michael Bay wow factor.

It did just enough to get…

A solid 7 on the splingometer!

So just to wrap up…

ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT… powerful moments, epic war scenes and gritty performances compel this bleak yet brilliant adaptation… An excellent 8!

MEN… Garland delivers a slow-burning yet atmospheric, chilling, grotesque, poetic, mesmerising and well-acted horror drama… A solid 7!

AMBULANCE… Bay’s colourful, exciting, flashy and visually captivating remake is slight yet surprisingly entertaining… A solid 7!

For more movie reviews and features visit splingmovies.com.

And remember, Don’t WING it, SPL!NG it!