Can you remember the last time you saw a German fantasy series? Probably not. Because if we exclude old fairy tale series and animation, the list is suddenly very short. That rings of power streamer Amazon Prime* with the launch of Hohlbeins – The Griffin change. Which is good news for genre-thirsty film fans from Germany. We’ll give you one Spoiler-free first impression.
Amazon’s fantasy series Der Greif: Stranger Things meets Supernatural in Germany
The basis for the fantasy series Der Greif is Heike and Wolfgang Hohlbein’s German book of the same name *: Mark Zimmermann (Jeremias Meyer) is considered a difficult loner. He has been in therapy for a long time for his tantrums and childhood trauma. He now attributes the inexplicable things he saw when his father kidnapped him and his older brother Thomas ten years ago to his mental illness. Until Thomas (Theo Trebs) shows up on his 16th birthday and gives him a dark family heritage revealed.
The Griffin: The brothers Mark and Thomas
Fantasy fans who have seen Supernatural will surely recognize some parallels here: A missing father and two brothers who must shoulder their family’s legacy with the help of a family chronicle? Sam and Dean say hello. But that doesn’t detract from the series Der Greif, especially since it then drifts more in the direction of Stranger Things.
Mark opens up about the fantastic Parallel world of the Black Tower, which has several floors. Holes gape in the sky and mighty buttresses loom out of rugged landscapes. Here forges a overpowering being cruel plans to conquer the human world: the griffin. It goes without saying that Mark is not up to this threat alone and therefore gathers comrades-in-arms such as metal fan Memo (Zoran Pingel) and classmate Becky (Lea Drinda) in the Amazon series.
The griffin is a journey through space and time into a fascinating fantasy world
While the Netflix hit Stranger Things revives the 80s, Amazon’s The Griffin 1994 places itself a decade later. That gives Fantasy series a special 90s spicewhich is not only reflected in big glasses and mullet hairstyles, but also works a lot through love of music.
The Griffin: The Black Tower (location: Tenerife)
Because not only do Mark, Memo and Thomas have a record shop and create cassette mixtapes: Der Soundtrack of a whole generation is always present in Der Greif. Nirvana and Metallica underline different moods and often go just as well with everyday school life in Krefelden as with other fantasy dimensions.
Even if the parallel world of the Black Tower was filmed in Tenerife, Germany with its churches, forests and walls does not have to hide as a fantasy setting. We’ve seen the computer effects of higher quality elsewhere, but the griffin’s stone henchmen deliver compelling creature design and especially the eyeless shapeshifters always provide pleasant shivers à la Pan’s Labyrinth.
Amazon’s fantasy series strikes a balance between violence and teenage entertainment
Only at Finding his tone of voice The griffin keeps stumbling. Because with its youthful protagonists, Amazon’s coming-of-age series doesn’t always merge the dark fantasy seamlessly with the serious preoccupation with growing up, the emotional teen drama and the child-like puzzle scavenger hunt.
The Creatures in The Griffin
The thematization of Mark’s mental health (which is definitely not just a fantasy explanation) grounds the series well at the beginning. But it is also used by Erol Yesilkaya and his series comrades-in-arms for Outbursts of violence are used that are uncomfortably out of the ordinary.
This is already evident in episode 1 in a dream sequence, where the hero of the story beats his teacher until his face is barely recognizable. Later, the brutality also erupts from pure fantasy. This always feels unnecessary because the Amazon series has enough other potential for conflict without having to be so graphic in the teenage context.
Although the characters in Die Greif, from the incredulous mother (Sabine Timoteo) to class beauty Sara (Flora Thiemann), all have their charm, the series struggles to generate enough interest for all of the characters juggled. For example, why should we care about the success or failure of a school party when Mark is fighting gargoyle-like slave traders and the end of the world in the parallel world?
Finally, Der Griffin is in some places still searchingto find the right balance of its elements. But with its fascinating story world, engaging characters and the special 90s charm, the Amazon series has enough potential to still tune in and experience this German fantasy advance.
The fantasy series Der Greif comprises 6 episodes that have been available to stream on Amazon Prime since May 25, 2023.
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