“Der Ostwind” is a highly ambitious but painfully empty student film (Brigham Young University) about a German World War I flying ace who finds his supremacy challenged by a mysterious American pilot. “It was rumored that Satan himself was flying for the Americans,” says the German (the film’s narration is in a heavy, breathy German with English subtitles).
The film is basically the dogfight between the German and the American, and it makes use of fairly obvious computer-generated special effects. Even to the untrained eye, the FX are blatantly apparent (particularly the explosion of a dirigible, which – in the ultimate act of artistic pretension, is reflected in the German’s eyeball!).
The film is all CGI, and that’s the main problem. Director Kohl Glass makes the same mistake that many Hollywood pros make: special effects should enhance a movie and not be used as a substitute for screenplay, performances and quality direction. The screenplay here is predictable (hey, we know who won World War I), Patrick Rosier’s performance as the proud German is strictly catatonic, and the direction never reaches the level of excitement or tension that this type of film needs. The climactic dogfight is really dull – compare this lethargic CGI exercise to something like heart-racing 1927’s “Wings,” which used genuine biplanes for its classic aerial duels.
We’ll stick with “Snoopy and the Red Baron” over this one.