Das Boot is a franchise with a legacy. And most of it is good. Fans of war movies consider it to be a franchise that is true to the events of World War II and equally adrenaline pumping.
Das Boot was first a book, written by Lothar-Günther Buchheim, which was then adapted by Wolfgang Petersen into an Oscar-nominated movie. Later, a German miniseries was made, which also was well-liked by the viewers. So what does the 2018 reboot add to the franchise?
1. Quick Review
With almost no historical accuracy and a lacklustre story, Das Boot retains none of the factors that made the book and the movie likeable.
2. Series Info
Das BootAir Date: November 23, 2018 Status: Airing Studio: Bavaria Fiction, Sky Studios No. of Seasons: 2 No. of Episodes: 16
3. Is It Worth Watching?
Das Boot tries to ‘update’ its story to suit the audience of the present times and, in the process, loses its charm.
The series is set in the year 1942 when the Battle of Atlantic was at its peak. There are two parallel storylines in the series. One revolves around the German submarine U-612 and the crew aboard it. The other narrative focusses on the French Resistance on land.
The crew on the U-612 are inexperienced in handling the brutal submarine warfare but they are determined to successfully complete a secret mission assigned to them. As the situation grows hopeless for them, differences in opinion arise in the men stuck in the cramped submarine.
On the land, a German woman called Simone Strasser struggles with her moral dilemma to stay loyal to her country or help the French win the war against Nazi occupation.
II. Detailed Analysis
The first thing that is wrong with the series is its position in terms of the original book/movie. It tries to acknowledge the existence of the film and becomes a weird combination of a sequel and hybrid.
The story begins nine months after the film ends and changes the name of the boat to U-612 from U-96. It also adds the character of Simone Strasser and her storyline, which is easily the weakest point of the series.
The characters are superficial and their actions often seem unreasonable to the audience because they fail to show what motivates them to take such steps. The characters are also very run-of-the-mill and very frankly, boring. They are not good enough to keep the viewers invested and neither is the story.
The biggest disappointment is the story. The original Das Boot was a simple story about the ravages of war seen through the eyes of a war correspondent and an under-attack submarine crew. But the reboot gives very little screen time to the submarine and its story.
Instead, the French Resistance and the new characters take up most of the time. The submarine and its crew become just a secondary plot to that.
What was great about the original story was its raw and honest nature. This is completely lost in the new series.
The drama on the land tries to cram in too many relevant issues to make it palatable for the 21st-century audience.
Two American characters have also been inserted in an essentially German story. Of course, this is done for a wider appeal but it is hard not to compare it to the original film where there were no American characters at all.
What the creators do not understand is that a story about World War II does not need to be revised or modernised. It is an event that is so large and so integral to its time-period that any change in a story about WWII will only reduce its credibility.
However, Das Boot scores in the CGI department. The scenes of warfare seem real and jarring because of the superior effects of modern computers. If there is any reason to watch the show, it is the graphics; it enhances the very convoluted plot of the show.
All the actors in the show would have done a better job had they been given better material.
This is especially true for Vicky Krieps, who has done a marvellous job in The Phantom Thread. She does her best with Simone Strasser, who is torn between patriotism and love. In the beginning, all she wants is to keep her younger brother and his family safe. As the show progresses, she realises that that will not be possible. It is then that she joins the French Resistance movement secretly.
Her character would have been a great addition to a completely new show that focussed on the French Resistance. But to integrate a story riddled with 21st-century biases in the famous Das Boot is certainly not the right way to do it.
5. Final Thoughts
At the end of it all, this show begs the question, was a reboot of such a successful franchise with arguably no flaws, really needed? Some films are just best kept like it is first made. If you are new to Das Boot, start with the Wolfgang Petersen film and then the German miniseries. There will probably be no need to watch the reboot after that.Originally Written By Epic Dope