Most helpful critical review
36 of 43 people found the following review helpful
Good, but missed the chance to be great
on 2 November 2010
Yes - I enjoyed this film. It's well made: well acted, nicely produced and presenting a believable (and as far as I can tell, fairly accurate) view of the first world war. Indeed, both the wider subject matter (WW1) and narrower story (the mining and tunnel war) are not generally well served by the movie industry and it's great to see a quality attempt to bring it into the light of the 21st century.
However, something about it just didn't click for me. The story should be moving, the plot nail-biting, the ending poignant. All the elements are there to enable that, but somehow it failed to hit those marks. I think it may be that it slipped too easily into war movie cliche: the doughty Diggers, the arrogant, crusty English General, the new lieutenant winning the respect of the hostile Corporal, the girl back home, the race against time and so-on. I'm not suggesting that these are invalid just because they are cliches but you can't help sighing a little cynically when the soldier passes around a photo of his best girl for his comrades to admire.
I think that another of the film's weaknesses was that, in a movie about digging tunnels, it missed an opportunity to crush the audience beneath an overwhelming feeling of claustrophobia. Certainly it provides a great rendition of the filth and squalour of the trench war, but so much of the action takes place above ground (i.e. outside of the tunnels themselves) that the key element of the story (what took place beneath Hill 60) is lost.
I really wanted to *love* this film. I'm afraid to say that I could only *like* it.