Red Baron, The (Der rote Baron) (Blu-ray) (2008)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Making Of-3 Effects Featurettes
Music Video-Open Skies by Reamonn
|Year Of Production||2008|
|Running Time||105:38 (Case: 102)|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Nikolai Müllerschön|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English DTS HD High Resolution Audio 5.1
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The Red Baron is a relatively big budget (certainly by German standards) action flick very loosely based on the exploits of Manfred von Richthofen, the notorious Red Baron, the German flying ace who ruled the skies for the best part of the first World War. Matthias Schweighöfer stars as the titular Baron, who we join at a time that the war is well and truly underway and German air superiority has been established.
Supported by his best mate and wingman Werner Voss (Til Schweiger), the Baron shoots down Canadian pilot Roy Brown (Joseph Fiennes). Being that this is the age of chivalry in the air, a good pilot's aim is to bring down planes rather than to kill their pilots and the Baron is consequently rather pleased to discover Brown has survived the downing. He takes Brown to the local hospital, where he is nursed back to health by nurse named Käte (Lena Headey) before being sent back on his merry way to have another crack at the Boche. Thus begins a rather silly friendship between Brown and von Richthofen, as well as a painfully overplayed romance between the Baron and the Nurse.
Tensions within the squadron rise when Lothar von Richthofen (Volker Bruch), the Baron's precocious younger brother, joins the party as his wild, aggressive flying style threatens the "gentleman's game" nature of flying.
In all honesty, the story offered up in The Red Baron is pretty d*** awful. Not only is it wildly historically inaccurate, but many of the inaccuracies introduced (particularly the horribly clumsy love story that makes up a large part of the film) actually make the story far less interesting than it should be. Think of the story of Pearl Harbour as remembered by a 6 year old, muddled up with a Wikipedia biography of a World War I flying ace. Thankfully the effects are excellent, albeit a bit choppily edited.
The film finds excuses to show off a variety of special effects, all rendered with high quality CGI. There are low-key effects used to elaborately render first World War era villages and spectacularly showy ground combat, as well as copious amounts of aerial combat. It all looks good but there are definitely moments where viewers are going to wish they were playing the game rather than watching the action.
The Red Baron was released with a fair degree of fanfare in Europe, as you would expect for one of the most expensive German movies ever made, but disappeared more quickly than any of The Red Baron's victims took to hit the dirt (posting a spectacular loss in the process). Unsurprisingly, it has taken nearly two years for the English language version to reach our screens.
This disc presents the shorter "international" version of the film, which reportedly keeps all the action of the longer German domestic cut, but trims back the dramatic elements somewhat. Whilst the inclusion of both cuts would have been preferable, I dare say that although the narrative is a little jumpy we have been saved an awful lot of potential boredom that a more drawn out version of this uninspired story could have offered. Furthermore, the film was shot in both German and English language versions and numerous shots in this version are woefully dubbed.
Fans of World War I aerial combat (myself included) will probably get something out of The Red Baron, but lament how much of a wasted opportunity it is. Others best avoid.
The film is presented in an open matte 1.85:1 aspect ratio in 1080p.
The video on offer is mediocre on most counts. The image is quite grainy, particularly for a recent film. The colour palette is generally quite vibrant but some poor choices have been made for the night time sequences, which have an unintentionally campy blue look to them. The level of shadow detail is somewhat disappointing and many of the darker colours lack contrast.
Noticeable edge enhancement mars many of the dramatic scenes, though it is far less noticeable in the action sequences (which in all honesty are the only bits worth paying attention to anyway). Thankfully, the image is free of film artefacts and there is no sign of compression artefacts in the video.
The film features an English DTS HD 5.1 audio track and an English Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 Kbps) audio track.
The audio is quite good, all up. The mix is a little clumsy and slightly muddy, but it is effective enough where is counts and certainly gives the action scenes a bit of a wallop. The dialogue is generally clear enough and easy to discern, however a number of shots, and some whole characters, have been quite poorly dubbed (though most of the shots in the film were clearly filmed in English).
The Film features an over-the-top orchestral score from German duo Stefan Hansen and Dirk Reichardt.
The surround speakers are put to decent, though unsubtle, use and support the action well. The subwoofer adds enough rumble to the action sequences to create a lively mood for those scenes, but offers little otherwise.
|Surround Channel Use|
The disc includes a sizeable extras package, most focussing on the film's elaborate effects. All are presented with overly compressed standard definition video, unless otherwise noted.
Open Skies by German outfit Reamonn. A bland radio friendly unit shifter played to snippets from the film and the odd shot of some angsty musiciany types. Pass.
Blooper reel. Skip it.
Bland on-set cast interviews. Pass.
A 10 minute featurette about the work done by the German CGI mob that did the film's effects. Not as advertorial in tone as it could have been and reasonably interesting to anyone who doesn't know a great deal about CGI (are there any DVD fans left in this boat?). Worth a look.
A brief featurette that looks at the CGI done to re-create period Germany. Reasonably interesting stuff.
A longer featurette looking at the CGI for the airplanes, particularly in combat. Good stuff.
A couple of galleries of behind the scenes stills and stills from the film are featured. Typical image gallery padding.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The film does not appear to have been released in Region 1/Region A. This edition is pretty much identical to the UK edition, save for the packaging.
Blu-ray viewers will be pleased to know that this edition does not have a random advertisement for a motor vehicle appear randomly before the film's epilogue, as a reader has advised us is the case with the DVD edition. More reason to choose Blu-ray!
A dreadfully dull drama about the Red Baron, peppered with some excellent special effects and action sequences.
The video on offer is unimpressive. The audio is reasonable, though poorly dubbed in places. The extras are numerous and quite interesting, but suffer from mediocre video quality.
|DVD||Sony Playstation 3, using HDMI output|
|Display||Samsung 116cm LA46M81BD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).|
|Audio Decoder||Pioneer VSX2016AVS. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||150W DTX front speakers, 100W centre and 4 surround/rear speakers, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub|