Customer Review

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A half-decent film trapped in the body of a school play, 21 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Forbidden Ground [DVD] (DVD)
It's a shame that what could have been a gritty and authentic trench-drama is marred by frequent lapses into TV movie cliche that leave you wincing. Certainly it looks good, with a muddy realism and moody lighting and camera work, especially for the scenes at the front. The plot isn't bad either, and they manage to inject some real drama. Unfortunately many of the characters are two dimensional: noble heroic Sgt Major Wilkins (Writer Earl); pantomime villains of sadistic British officers; or even more inexcusably, the Germans - cartoon unsmiling, schlager-scarred Huns. Worst of all though is the fact that the actors frequently forget which accent they're supposed to have: Australian, gor-blimey cockney, oirish and caricature aristocrat English are all on show here - often in the space of a single sentence. Lead Johan Earl maintains his well - albeit at the expense of some acting. It's only a shame he's supposed to be an NCO, and speaks like a pretend public schoolboy. Why wasn't this just a film about Australian soldiers. it could have easily been a match for the recent Canadian film 'Paschendaele'. There are some incongruous historical touches too: how does a Sergeant Major appear to live in a country house with servants - is this someone's idea of England? Why do the soldiers call him "Sir" (he would be "Sergeant" to the men). Why do none of the uniforms have proper badges or insignia? Sadly the effect is to make this feel like a school version of Journey's End, and if this sounds like I'm carping I suppose it's because there are so many moments when you get flashes of what a good film this could have been.
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Tracked by 1 customer

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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 22 Aug 2013 14:17:43 BDT
Last edited by the author on 27 Aug 2013 13:17:54 BDT
B. Olsen says:
Agree! I didn't think much of 'Passchendaele' either, and this is even worse. Amazingly for such a low-budget effort, it was actually shown in cinemas in Australia. Did you notice that in a film set in 1916, the officer wears ribbons (sewn on the wrong way incidentally) of war and victory medals issued in 1919? No big deal, but it is another example of the unfortunate lack of attention to detail here.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Aug 2013 11:23:47 BDT
Forbidden Ground has not had any cinema release, apart from a premiere, in Australia. It will be released in cinemas in September.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Aug 2013 13:34:49 BDT
B. Olsen says:
Thanks, I was obviously a bit early. Wonder how it will be received.

Posted on 30 Aug 2013 15:13:59 BDT
Sergeant Major is the equivelent of a Warrant Officer and everyone calls them "Sir"

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Dec 2013 02:54:10 GMT
Xenophon says:
When the reviewer said it could have been as good as the Canadian 'passchendaele' that I watched a couple of years ago, I immediately thought my God if he thinks that clichéd dull rubbish was good then this must be atrocious. Now reading your post also, I definitely will give this a miss.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Mar 2014 09:01:20 GMT
Greg Dawe says:
Absolutely correct...and an RSM is usually referred to as 'God'!!
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3.2 out of 5 stars (16 customer reviews)
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