After "Dark", another German Netflix Original show, I was ready to accept that maybe, just maybe some Germans were up to something. Sure, "Dark" wasn't perfect in any way, but for German standards that show was pretty outstanding.
Same production company, same streaming service, new creative mind. Never mind, press play.
Two minutes into the first episode, it dawned on me: "Dark" was a fluke (as shown by its third season as well). An exception, and we're back to good old German cringe.
"Tribes of Europa" is horrible in almost every way imaginable. Here are the good things:
- It doesn't hold back on violence. You might find it a bit over the top, but set in a world where only the strong survive, everything else would be hard to believe.
- The colour palette is solid. Honestly, it's not the worst look, even if it's nothing new or daring. Moody colours, mostly decent lighting.
- The VFX/SFX are mostly good, but always at least acceptable. They don't distract you in any way, which is absolutely fine for a TV show.
And that's kinda it. The bad things:
- The world building is laughably naive. Sure, no power, no industy, basically no civilization, and yet we see electric lights everywhere, gasoline powered cars, obviously factory-made clothes that are as good as new... Terrible stereotypes when it comes to the tribes and their ideologies, laughably generic characters. The concept could have been at least decent, but it's executed in the most stupid and ridiculous ways.
- The writing is wooden and dull. Dialogues are so bad, it's hard to believe they're being serious with this. Generic villains and unlikeable good guys.
- The acting is absolutely horrendous, especially if you actually speak German. Sure, the actors don't have any good material to work with, but in this case, this suits these actors. Rarely have I heard a delivery so wooden and artificial like in this fine example of German craftsmanship. I was wondering if the actors were actually in a state of hypnosis. Absolutely incredible stuff.
- The camera work was eye-insulting. They sure love their wide-angle jittery amateur shots. Honestly, this must have been filmed by a remotely controlled chimpanzee. At least I hope it was, because I'm really reluctant to accept that this mind-boggling incompetence in the camera department would get hired to do a Netflix show. Which brings me to:
- The direction. Oh boy. It seems like this was entirely the brain child of writer/director Philip Koch. And wow, did he cook something up. His shots were disconnected, naive, random, even "wrong" at times, and his lens choices made no sense. It's like someone tried to do something they had absolutely no talent or skill for. Even the blocking seemed laughable at times. And let's not talk about the "action". Dull, slow, boring angles and incompetent timing done by a crew that obviously had never done anything of that sort before. Honestly, if I was Netflix, I'd ban this Koch guy from filmmaking altogether. No more Final Draft for you, Sir. No, don't touch that camera. Get away from that chair, Mister, or I'll call security!
- The music. I actually felt physically sick when I heard these auto-tuned audacities in some scenes. The score itself is kinda generic detuned synth pad spam, serving no cues or beats whatsoever. Vangelis would have scored this in real time while actually being asleep and it would have been more creative and original.
Neil Breen is dead, long live Philip Koch. Actually no, I do apologize to Mr Breen. Not even he deserves this. I should cancel my Netflix account and invest the money to buy some of his DVDs as an apology for laughing at his efforts. I guess Tribes of Europa taught me some humility and respect for people who actually give a damn. Oh well, it's something.
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