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The Good German Reviews

Page 1 of 115
Kase V

Super Reviewer

March 5, 2013
Soderbergh's visuals are intriguing in this WWII drama, but the story is anything but. Clooney's charisma proves not enough to make the film interesting.
Jens S

Super Reviewer

December 15, 2006
Director Steven Soderbergh's homage to 1940s film noir cinema stays true to the filming methods used back in the day: the camera work, lighting, music, everything. That's a little strange at first, but you gotta admire the tenacity with which this is pulled through from the beginning to the end. As for the plot, it starts out slowly and with what seems to be a rather unlikable character. 20 minutes in a rather unexpected death gets things moving and the film gets more interesting with every minute from then on. Overall, we go through three narrators as we switch perspectives throughout the plot. The acting is great, especially Cate Blanchett seems to have emerged right from that era of cinema. There's even the Casablanca homage in the end. An interesting, even if not overwhelming experience that's pretty entertaining and well done.
Daniel P

Super Reviewer

May 7, 2007
In the end, on an airstrip in the rain, it became clear what Soderbergh thought he was doing: making a new Casablanca. And while the "zigzag plot" praised in the film's promotional copy shares this with the classic, no other elements are even comparable. Tobey Maguire is completely miscast, and the film suffers, I think, from a point-of-view problem. Cate Blanchett's character, Lena, is by far the most interesting, and has the most to contribute to the story... so why does the film present itself as being "about" the journalist George Clooney plays?


The film would have been much more successful had we worked from Lena's point of view. Show us first that Brandt is still allive, then watch her mislead us and the journalist until the end. If she is truly the "good German," then make her the hero.

As it is, though, this film is a stinker. The new black-and-white footage was well-yoked to the old newsreel stuff, but that's the nicest thing I can say about it. A lot more than an old-timey score is needed to create tension; primarily, emplotment. This movie just didn't have it, and as a result, Soderbergh's experiment in noir is a colossal failure, and for lack of a better word, flat-out boring.

Super Reviewer

November 10, 2011
A serviceman investigates the death of a smuggler who was having an affair with his ex-girlfriend.
The story of this film is such a classic noir that all its twists and turns are predictable, bordering on cliche, and director Steven Soderbergh is clearly paying homage to the directors of the early forties, particularly Michael Curtiz. But there's a line where homage meets cliche, and at its few good points -- usually involving a perfectly framed shot of Cate Blanchett in black and white or George Clooney's badly written but well delivered voice over -- The Good German rests on the homage side, but it lives in cliche.
The Good German experiment, which is what it seems, makes me wonder if classics are classics because they have a style that one can imitate or if they attain classic status by being perfect expressions of their times. After watching Soderbergh's attempt to cherry pick style of the two options, I have to think that classics are not inimitable, to be appreciated but not duplicated.
Overall, I found The Good German interesting only on a theoretical level, but we can talk about film theory without wasting time on this movie.

Super Reviewer

October 26, 2011
Lena Brandt: You can never really get out of Berlin. 

"Not Everyone Finds Peace After The War"

One thing I got while watching The Good German is that Soderbergh made this movie for himself. It is easy to see that he loves 40's noir and he probably had a lot of fun paying homage to those films. If we are only looking at how well he did in making a movie that feels like it was made 60 years ago; he did one hell of a job. If there were no faces I recognized and the profanity was dropped, I would have easily mistaken this for a film from the 40's. The cinematography is perfect, the music is perfect and the overall tone of the movie is perfect. What isn't perfect is the plot. 

This movie is so close to being one of the coolest movies ever. If only Soderbergh would have worried about the story as much as the style. This is a glaring example of style over substance. As far as a plot synopsis, ummm... Clooney's character walks around postwar Berlin questioning people about the whereabouts of a suspected dead man and ultimately trying to fine out what happened to some driver named Tully. That is about it. So I didn't really enjoy this film so much for the plot. But to be honest, I didn't really care that much.

I was interested the entire time, without being riveted by the events of the story. I had fun watching a classic noir made in the 21st century. Had this movie been made in the 40's and not recently, I would probably hate it. But I appreciate Soderbergh's guts to make a film like this. Obviously most people aren't going to like it and I assume he knew that going in. It is cool to see a filmmaker who makes a movie just for himself every once in awhile. Kind of like what Gus Van Sant has been doing since Good Will Hunting. Do you really think he thought people would respond well to a Psycho remake? No, but that is what he wanted to, so he did it.

This isn't a great film, but it is interesting filmmaking at work. If you love classic noir, The Good German is worth a look. Will you like it? Odds are, no. I can't say that I really liked it, yet I know I didn't dislike it. I just found it to be a cool and unique film from a cool and unique director.
Ken S

Super Reviewer

April 26, 2007
More of an interesting experiment than a successful film. The juxtaposition of classic style with modern violence, sexuality and violence really reminded me of Scorsese

Super Reviewer

September 19, 2007
If it weren't for the profanity, nudity, and the violence (well, the way it is sometimes presented, that is), you would think that this film came out during the 1940s.

That's by design though, as this is essentially an exercise is genre and technique more tha nanything. The film has the look, feel, and style of a 1940 film noir, and was even created like one- using the same type of cameras, lighting, and art direction. The opening credits sequence is a gem. It's just a shame the rest of the film doesn't maintain that same high level.

Why the mild recommendation, then? Well, I should give this a C+, but I'm so enamored with how this was done that I have a hard time crapping on it like I should. Besides, everyone else rips on it already. I figure it could use a defender.

It's has a similar plot to stuff like Casablanca and The Third Man, and it definitely apes from those films (in ways too numerous to name), but, while it never reaches that leve lof greatness, the film is very much something interesting, even if it doesn't fully hit the mark. Call it a noble failure.

The main issue is that the audience can't really invest in the characters or story. There should be more character development and something about the characters that would make people care. The acting isn't bad though. I mena, Tobey Maguire is a little out of place, but he doesn't quite ruin things.

With this film's desire to be like a 40s film, it seems odd to me that they'd throw in modern elements that wouldn't have gotten past the Hays Code (language, sex/nudity). They should have truly gone all out and really made it like a period piece down to every detail.

Besides not caring about the characters, the story seems a little all over the place, which is a shame. I do like the dealing with feelings of guilt and survival, though.

Okay, so, while this film isn't great, it's not that bad either. I may be slightly inflating my grade, but I can't help it that I just love what Soderbergh and Co. tried to do here. It's just a sahme it couldn't have been as great as it should have.

Super Reviewer

March 24, 2010
I seriously do not understand why everyone hates this movie. I'm probably just easily entertained and impressed, but I really liked it. It's really wierd how much the film is like old Hollywood dramas. I knew that was part of the intention, but this was far more than I ever had expected. The Good German completely mimics the style. The cinematography, the style of the sets, even the characters and dialog. The film isn't reministant of any one piece, but of the style as a whole. I'm generally not all that fond of "classic" films, but The Good German draws from all the best and brightest elements of that era. If nothing else, the film is fun for the sheer novelty factor. Cate Blanchett is amazing. She has got to be one of the most diverse actresses around. The story is a bit on the weak side, but it does not really detract from the rest of the film. The sheer broody angst and atmophere makes up for it. Idk, I'm still in disbelief that I had never heard of this movie and that everyone hates it. It's stylish and intoxicating, wierd and desperate, modern but still a tribute to the cinema of days gone by.
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

October 1, 2009
This film is awful. Why on earth they thought it would be a good idea to film a post war era film in a classic noir style is beyond me, they couldn't even get it right! I saw the cameraman's shadow twice! This film falls flat on its arse and almost becomes a parody. The acting is abysmal with only Clooney surviving (just), Blanchett and Maguire are ridiculous (what?s the point of Maguire when we have Gyllenhaal?), the script is stupid, naughty words 'n all and the story, well that's the biggest disappointment of all. It?s like Soderbergh tried to remake Casablanca! Maybe he is as crap a director as I always thought he was! Avoid!
Pierluigi P

Super Reviewer

August 2, 2007
Cheap neoclasicism is what Steven Soderbergh, his screenwriter and actors did. This bunch of retrogrades can't come up with something engaging in the tradition of Casablanca, the third man, or germany year zero.
George Clooney and Toby Maguire produce some good results (though the latter looks out of place), and Cate Blanchett keeps mimicking Marlene Dietrich with flat results.
Stylistically interesting, but hollow in the rest.
Al S

Super Reviewer

December 14, 2006
A powerful and masterful edge of your seat thriller that mixes romance and mystery in one fantastic and marvelous movie. A masterpiece. Director, Steven Soderberg never fails to at being a superb and brilliant filmmaker. Movies dont get better than this. Stylish and engrossing film noir in the old black and white tradition and works wonderfully. A teriffic, explosive, haunting and unforgettable film. Endlessly compelling and electrifying. Intriguing and dazzeling. Feels like and looks like a classic. George Clooney is brilliant. Cate Blanchet is stunning.

Super Reviewer

September 26, 2007
Just awful, self conciously arty. Tries to recreate the feeling of great 40's films but with supposedly modern dialogue, meaning the actors swear every other word, which doesn't make it contemporary just dull and lacking in imagination. Cate Blanchett is fine, but Clooney is arch and Maguire, usually a fine actor is miscast and awful. A dog from the word go!
Red L

Super Reviewer

December 26, 2007
I guess I am naive. Who knew all the complexities that could be possible surrounding a guy like Emil Brandt. I couldn't figure out who was chasing who. The question of what did you do in Germany to survive the war - is there really any way that you can claim you had no part in the atrocities the Nazi's conducted?

My reaction to the movie was mixed. I thought the acting was good. Funny to see Cate Blanchett with a German accent. I can see why they filmed it in B&W, but the story has to be outstanding like Shindler's List before I think it is a good technique. I felt it was not the best writing.

Super Reviewer

December 2, 2007
They tried too hard to be artsy, and in the end it felt very strongly like a rip off of Casablanca. Also, appalling performances by Tobey Maguire, who should never play a role of someone who says the F word a lot, beats up everyone including girls and George Clooney, and has sex doggy style with Cate Blanchett. All I can see him doing is roles like spiderman and pleasentville. Slow and not fun, and I tended to not want to give it my attention enough to even really grasp all the turns and plot double crossings and what not. Save yourself from this one. The only parts that excited me were when annoying characters died.
December 16, 2006
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh.
Starring: Cate Blanchett, George Clooney, Tobey Maguire.

I honestly don't know how I survived the entire film, I guess I wanted to review the whole film and not a half. I really wanted to love this film, I had heard about the bad reviews and I knew I was to expect style over substance, but even then, I didn't get that.

From director Steven Soderbergh, someone I really love, a man of technical brilliance and style, completely disappointed me here, although he certainly is not the bad point of the film, I love his attempt at creating a homage to the films of the 40's in a film noir style and some of the lighting shots and camera looks are great, but nowhere was there any form of style, flair or excitement. Keeping with that, although the lighting techniques used were great, the cinematography was not, although they made Cate Blanchett glow on screen, everything else appeared amateur and I had really hoped for radiance. The acting is that of low quality and it doesn't have anything to do with with the way it was staged. A film in the 40's would have been staged the same way, yet the control over the actors was what made them shine, here everyone delivers some of there worst performances, even my favourite actress, Cate Blanchett (I give her credit for the spot on accent). And here comes the major downfall of the film, the script. As soon as I heard the word 'homage' before seeing this film, I expected that in every aspect of filmmaking, but the script is full of unnecessary language, bad dialogue that doesn't give you the feel of the 40's, badly developed and very unlikeable characters and a dull, lifeless plot.....anything else trying to squeeze its way through, such as social and political themes, are killed by a badly written script.

I still can't believe how this film turned out, I expected style over substance and would have been happy with that, but instead, I got a disappointing lack of vision and control from Steven Soderbergh, amateur cinematography, shocking acting and a terrible, dull script. Some things I liked (hense the couple of stars), which I stated before, but they ain't enough to save this film.

Super Reviewer

July 10, 2007
Missed the mark.

Super Reviewer

July 9, 2007
Not a bad ambitious drama with use black & white film that seen like in 1940s movies such as Casablanca.
Lanning :

Super Reviewer

July 1, 2007
This one really lacks story, structure, and pace to qualify as anything more than a just barely average movie. The topic is important, but the delivery is nothing to get excited about.
Edward B

Super Reviewer

June 21, 2007
The best film noirs put historical and social conditions into a new perspective, something that Soderbergh ultimately forgot or didn't even consider when making this stylized homage.
Luke B

Super Reviewer

June 5, 2007
Tobey Maguire brings out his dark side that perhaps should have been seen more in Spider-Man 3. The Good German succeeds on many levels. It is a fantastic recreation of those classic films such as Casablanca and The Third Man. Soderbergh has done his research has has done eveyrthing in his power for that authentic feel. It's just a shame that the story isn't up to par, becoming a slow and dialogue heavy Casablanca remix. With all the attention to detail it is a shame about the swearing, not because I have anything against it, but the real 40's wouldn't of had such poor language. An interesting try at something new, in the fact that it is old, if you get my meaning. However it doesn't pull it off as well as one may have hoped.
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