All Quiet on the Western Front is considered the definitive novel of the first world war. By Erich Maria Remarque, a German author who fought in the trenches on the western front. His descriptions of the unrelenting horrors and deprivations as well as the physical and mental effects the fighting had on the soldiers is quite devastating to the reader, let alone to the soldier who actually experienced it. Though fiction, it is based on the author’s experience and is similar to the experiences of the Allied soldiers fighting on the other side.
The movie is also considered a classic and while it doesn’t quite convey the same sense of despair is quite worth watching even for those of use who don’t normally watch war movies.
In this re-boot of the Paul Verhoeven cop-turned-robot dystopian classic, the producers have tapped a number of actors from hit TV series: Joel Kinnaman (The Killing), Michael K. Williams (Boardwalk Empire), Aimee Garcia (Dexter), and sprinkled in a number of big-name veterans to give the film greater weight: Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton, and Gary Oldman.
As usual, the villains steal the show, with Jackson playing the media stooge for the global colossus OmniCorp, Keaton its slimy, sociopathic CEO, and Oldman, the doctor who sells his soul to fulfill his scientific vision, a la Dr. Frankenstein.
This movie is technically excellent, with its fast-paced computer-game graphics and imaginative CGI effects. But it lacks the humanity of the original, and has sacrificed much of the first movie’s grittiness and wickedly dark humor for the sake of a PG-13 rating.
In 2009 filmmaker Alex Gibney was making a documentary about Lance Armstrong’s return to the Tour de France after a four-year absence. That project transformed in the wake of the events of 2012 and 2013 with Armstrong being stripped of all of his seven titles and being banned for life from competitive cycling, and his confession on the Oprah Winfrey show that all his claims of competing clean were a massive fraud.
The subsequent documentary became Armstrong’s explanation, not excuse, for why he did what he did. His great sin was not just his deception regarding doping, but the lengths he went to to perpetuate that deception, damaging the lives of former friends, colleagues, teammates, and anyone who dared to speak out publicly against him.
Credit to Armstrong for finally being totally candid about what he did, but he’s a long way from redemption. He didn’t live a lot of lies, but he lived one big one.