Judge Bill Gibron believes this terrible TV miniseries will go over like a lead dirigible.
Oh the humanity…is right.
While the actual time is in dispute, it is said that it took approximate 37 seconds for the German airship LZ 129 Hindenburg to burn up on that fateful morning of May 6, 1937. In less than a minute, all dreams of transatlantic zeppelin flight were snuffed out in a blazing fireball, the horror capture on film and radio broadcast for all time. So how long does it take Encore, the premium pay cable station, to stage the same disaster. One minute? Ten? Thirty? Unfortunately, the answer has a decidedly miniseries feel. Indeed, this 191-minute exercise in excruciating awfulness plies its preposterousness out over three hours. Heck, it took Titanic less time to sink to the bottom of the Atlantic—and James Cameron's Oscar winner is indeed fertile ground for name-checking since, aside from a bizarro world bit of conspiracy theorizing, the vast majority of his movie is made up of a tepid love story between a rich girl Jennifer van Zandt (Lauren Lee Smith, The L Word) and one of the ship's engineers, Marten Kröger (Maximilian Simonischek). Their onscreen heart may not, but this dull excuse for entertainment sure goes on and on and on and on…
With a most German cast dubbed just to give this stinker even less reason to exist, Hindenburg executes its first flaw by having our lovers meet cute in a lake. No, not near a lake, in one. Marten is an engineer responsible partly responsible for the massive airship. She's an American heiress taking a day out on the water. When his glider crashes into said body of liquid, it's slippery love at first script page. Of course, her oil baron father (Stacy Keach, W.) wants to get in on the blimp market. So he's trying to overturn an American embargo while keeping his child away from any local riffraff and safely secured in the arms of her dipstick boyfriend, Franz Rittenberg (Andreas Pietschmann). After conspiring to put a bomb onboard the vessel, Mr. Plotpoint discovers that both his wife (Greta Scacchi, The Player) and his little girl are on the flight. Marten tries to help, fails, and sneaks onboard. He has to hide because of some laughable legal problems (not that attempted murder is anything to giggle about). We meet a bunch of idiot passengers, watch our two leads make Winslet/DiCaprio cow eyes at each other, and wait for the moment when humanity gets a shout-out.
Like Pearl Harbor, Michael Bay's attempt at giving the Japanese destruction of the American fleet in 1941 the right young lover's walk, Hindenburg owes everyone at Lightstorm Entertainment a healthy residual check—or perhaps, a day in court. Another beneficiary of this miniseries' conceptual burglary should be Irwin Allen's The Poseidon Adventure. In that classic disaster film, little Eric Shea ran around the luxury liner—both before and after it went bottoms up—discussing in some expository detail the various ins and outs of the famed ship, more or less turning him into Nigel Exposition crossed with a chipmunk. In Hindenburg, something called Marvin Bockers serves this purpose. He's also part of a last-act rescue which sees him lunge for a toy instead of getting out of harm's way. Since we don't care about Marten and Jennifer, since Mr. Simonischek and Ms. Van Zandt have about as much onscreen chemistry as a fern and a fire truck, and this is the main reason we are forced to spend so long lumbering around this bloated balloon, Hindenburg becomes a test.
As for the tech specs, we get a nice 1.78:1 anamorphic image and a listenable Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround mix. The dialogue is pushed way to the front and the channels get little ambient work until the final explosion. As for added content, how does a trailer for something called The White Queen grab ya? Thought so.
Back in 1975, Robert Wise directed prickly actor George C. Scott in a film which offered up its own theory about how the famed airship came to such a horrific end. Turns out, it was some kind of cockamamie plot to prove that there were people who actually didn't like Hitler (or something silly like that).
Hindenburg may not have such a surreal idea at the center of its narrative, but what it does have will make anyone familiar with the famous incident wish they could put the negative to this turkey in the ship's storage bin, hopefully burning up on impact.
Guilty. A true entertainment endurance test.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
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