Review this movie
Mar 12, 2014This honestly could 've been so much better. A film about Stalingrad would have you believe that it's about the battle itself. However, that is sadly not the case. Instead, it focuses more on a handful of Russian soldiers trying to protect this young woman whom they all happen to fall in love with. Also, it focuses WAY too much on slow motion action to the point where everything looks forced and ridiculous. It also felt a hair too long. Overall, it had a decent story and acting, but this movie really would've been better off detailing the actual war rather than just trying to come up with something new.… Expand
Jul 7, 2014Who cares if that isn't what really happened. In my opinion this was a great action/war movie. The cinematography was great, the CGI was good, and the acting was good. I don't care about the history behind it. Have you ever seen Inglorious Bastards, I am pretty sure hitler never got his head shot to bits by Brad Pitt in real life. This is exactly why I don't like critics, your too....critical. Don't get hung about on things as mediocre as the history behind it, who cares. Watch it for what it is...a good movie.… Expand
Mar 3, 2014Don't bother wasting your time with this thinly-veiled Soviet propaganda movie. Aside from some good production values (which is the only reason this movie doesn't get a zero), there are very few redeeming qualities in this overly-long and plodding waste of celluloid. First and foremost, the title would have you think that this movie is about the epic Battle of Stalingrad, and nothing could be further from the truth. Most of the movie takes place in the days before the bulk of the battle and is confined to a few buildings near the banks of the Volga River. The opening sequence of the Russians crossing the Volga is perhaps the highpoint of a war movie that is strangely devoid of sweeping battle scenes, and even then, this opening pales in comparison to a similar sequence from "Enemy At The Gates" which, though it has its own issues, is vastly superior. The acting in "Stalingrad" is what you would expect from a B-grade movie although I'm not sure if part of the problem stems from the poorly-conceived script. The writing/screenplay is absolutely abysmal and rife with nearly every war movie cliche imaginable. All the characters are underdeveloped and little more than caricatures of your usual war movie stereotypes, and I found it difficult to care if any of them lived or died. The actions of some of the characters are also illogical at times which doesn't help the already shaky credibility of the movie. The pacing of the story has an unremarkable paint-by-the-numbers feel, and some of the editing cuts are downright atrocious. I rate this stinker as one of the worst movies of the year (2013 or 2014, take your pick) and feel ripped off for losing 2+ hours of my life that I will never get back.… Expand
Jun 29, 2014Not to be confused with the excellent German film of the same name from 1993, Fedor Bondarchuk’s take on what is the most harrowing of human depravity is nothing short of an atrocity in and of itself. It is a beautifully shot mockery of the horrors of war and the sacrifices made by those who suffered through it. It fails on almost every level in which a film can fail. Avoid at all cost, for details continue reading.
Stalingrad takes its inception from the true life events of Pavlov’s house. This was an apartment building in Stalingrad where twenty-five Russian soldiers held off hundreds of German soldiers under the command of one sergeant Pavlov. Bondarchuk takes this epic premise and infuses it with stale romantics, over-choreographed action sequences and so much heavy handed propaganda that it to feel like a soap opera with Spielbergian production values.
The script is the first and foremost problem. Like Enemy at the Gates before it, Stalingrad seems to think that a war story cannot be told authentically without a love story. In this case Stalingrad one ups Enemy at the Gates by cramming not one, but two stale and forced romantic angles. The first is between Katya, the Russian civilian who stays behind in the ruined shell of a city and her valiant defenders, six Russian soldiers. The script routinely points out that there are in fact six main soldiers at the house and yet she only falls in love with five, for whatever reason. It’s okay though, the sixth guy is in the navy so he’s probably gay or something. At no point in the film does any kind of truly romantic action actually occur. Throughout, she routinely becomes a liability, a distraction and yet for whatever reason, five men fall in love with her. Instead of manning defenses and planning strategies on how to survive, they bake her cakes, run across trenches with bath tubs while under fire and gawk and awe. Out of what do they bake this cake? **** you, that’s what. This movie is not about logic or authenticity, don’t forget that. In the end this angle winds up becoming very creepy as they all begin to treat her as a prize, gazing upon her as a sacrificial lamb destined to be their salvation. They all see her as a ticket to their own salvation, always ready to unload their personal deamons on her, but never once taking her issues into account. This might have been some kind of super deep point made in the script. If it is, it was done very poorly because it comes off as a shallow way to artificially extend runtime.
The second love story is the better of the two, not that, that’s saying much. This ‘love’ story is between the German captain Khan (Thomas Krietschman) and Masha a Russian civilian. This arc fails miserably as well. The two do not speak one anothers language, but through the power of love they find a connection. Does it matter that Khan rapes her and treats her as a valued ornament? Of course it doesn’t, because they love each other deeply, even as she tightly grips a knife for defense in anticipation of his return. The film at one point does try to address the issue of wartime rape, but quickly brushes it away as if it’s something icky that is nothing more than a footnote. Add another check in the shamefull column for this film. The last point of contrition with the love stories is how they treat the women. They are eye candy, porcelain dolls to be saved by greasy patriotic men with conflicted morals. This causes the biggest flaw with the romantic arcs, they are one sided. This essentially means we only get half the story and miss out on some crucial parts.
Now that we have the forced romance part taken care of, let’s take a gander at the characters, shall we. The Russians, bold, patriotic, heroic, valiant and whatever other propaganda like descriptor you can throw out. You won’t learn their names because that is unimportant. Bondarchuk seems to think that character development only gets in the way of cool explosions. At least Bay tries to give his characters cool names so as to be memorable. There is the stoic captain, the bear like naval marine, the boyish artillery officer, the silver tongue sniper, the silent badass and the father figure. They all get a forgettable backstory that is only good for a laugh through quite possibly the worst narration ever put into a major production, more on that later. All you really need to know is that these guys are, badass. Like, really badass, so badass in fact that all their fight sequences automatically go into slow motion and they never miss a shot.
On the other side of the conflict we have the Nazis. These aren’t the Nazis you will find in a film that is dedicated to authenticity. They have no character, no humanity. They are cartoon villains worthy of some terribly animated Hannah-Barbara cartoon. Their level of cartoonishness knows no bounds, they offer sacrifices to the pagan gods and then pray to the one true god for protection, they bumble about like idiots in a city full of snipers. They scream and stomp and you can almost see the steam shooting from their ears as they scream at their freshly foiled plan. This level of cartoonishness does not heighten their monstrousness, rather it neuters it. You can take them no more seriously than a Scoobie Doo villain of the week as they fumble about, failing to catch zem pesky Ruskies.
Yet none of the above is even the most egregious of faults to be found in the film although it ties into it. Yes I did just use egregious, deal with it. Where Stalingrad (1993) and Enemy at the Gates attempted and by in large succeeded at showing you the horrors of war, the brutality of combat and its effects on those who witness it or participate in it, Stalingrad (2013) glorifies it. The only way to describe it is, imagine if Call of Duty marketed itself as a war simulator. The film shows us the battles as these over-choreographed MMA matches, where everyone has a blackbelt. It strips away the reality by glossing over the brutality of the battle and the suffering and trying to make it look cool for the sake of Americanizing the film. Watching the action scenes was sickening. Bondarchuk and company, perversely **** the brutality of war, there were some moments were I could feel tears of disgust swelling in my eyes. That has never before happened to me. There were times that the choreography of the shots and action became indistinguishable from a videogame. I was shocked and stunned. It is one thing for an action or war movie to revel in death and destruction for the sake of entertainment. It is a wholly different matter when said film seeks to honour veterans through this form of tasteless mockery.
The final nail in the coffin for this atrocious garbage is the narration/dubbing. Having watched the dubbed version I cannot conclusively say whether the Russian narration was any good. What I can say though is that it is completely unnecessary. The script has the narrator either describing the scene you are about to watch verbatim or giving you some melodramatic description of feelings that would be more at home on a soap like “All my circuits”. The dubbing only serves to compound all of this. It sounds as if they hired the producers bag boy and had him record all the dialogue the afternoon before the film’s release. The voice sound stale, robotic and worst of all, way too young to be coming from the faceless narrator. But hey, if you’re gonna **** on heroes, you might as well go all out right?
But why would they do this? 3D, that’s why. Three dimensions is the curse and extremely minor blessing of this film. Billed as Russia’s first 3D film, it pays more attention to the format of the camera, rather than the tail. Every scene and shot is framed in service to three dimensions. The slow motion is reminiscent of 300 and works perfectly well with the 3D element. Frankly told, the 3D is eye popping and the cinematography is fantastic. It is one of the only two good things about this film. Sadly what the filmmakers fail to realize is that, a movie that is a slave to 3D gimmicks is a terrible idea, no matter how pictueresque each and every frame of your film is.
The other good part of the film is Thomas Kriestchman. He is fantastic in the film. He brings ethos and humanity to his character. His performance is all the better when you factor in the fact that his character is a scatter shot of emotions and reasoning. His vacant stares and hallow declarations of love fit perfectly into the beautiful rubble created for this film. Kriestchman’s Khan perfectly encapsulates the collapsing world all around him. I imagine this comes from the fact that Stalingrad (1993) was one of his first films so some of the experience must have carried over to this turd of a production. Too bad that the role was buried by hammy dialog and action found in the script.
At the end of the day, all one can say about this movie is that it is a polished turd. By far, this is the worst film I have ever had the displeasure to watch. Poorly made and insulting.**** you Fedor Bondarchuk and who ever gave you the money to make this piece of **** I hope you never get funded again.… Expand
Mar 14, 2014Anyone who has read in any detail about the battle of Stalingrad, on which this movie is based, and who comes to it expecting a realistic story line, will be extremely disappointed within a few minutes of the opening. The first battle scene, in which Russian soldiers charge uphill from the Volga through the remains of a burning oil dump, thereby turning themselves in to human torches who then storm and take a heavily defended German position, didn't happen and couldn't happen, The ongoing lack of understanding of the reality of the battle is epitomized by frequent shots of characters enjoying panoramic views of the city's ruins, or simply staring through unshattered windows, despite the known prevalence of snipers at Stalingrad. These snipers appear when needed, however, as when some particularly stupid German soldier, who hasn't heard about the snipers, pauses in the middle of a ruined square to take a quick wash. A Soviet just happens to be training his girlfriend in sniper techniques, not far away.
Most of this film seems to be based on the story of Pavlov's House, a fortified apartment building held for two months by a small and determined group against enormous odds. Two hours of what must have been one of the grimmest struggles of a very grim war would probably be beyond the endurance limit of most people so it is understandable that the script writer invented a Hollywood-type narrative to replace what actually occurred. In which case, it should be called something else.
This is the third major film to deal with the battle of Stalingrad. The first, German, version is still the best though seen mainly from a German soldier's point of view. The second, the Jude Law love epic, was a weak attempt but did have some very realistic battle scenes. This version doesn't come up to that standard.… Expand
May 28, 2014Did Putin write this? Did some Stalin era general direct it? This is a propaganda commercial that is 2 hours long with the worst Russian melodrama that Russians are famous for. The opening where Russian soldiers are on fire - charging the MG42 nests made me laugh out loud. It's so cliche and so predictable in a Russian propaganda kind of way that if you thinks it's a comedy - it actually works.
Jul 13, 2014This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I've been a fan of Fedor Bondarchuk's since I saw "9th Company" a few years ago. Whereas "9th Company" was a gritty, almost cynical depiction of Soviet soldiers fighting in Afghanistan in the 1980's, "Stalingrad" serves as an idealized metaphor of Russia's heroes of the "Great Patriotic War."
My first word of advice is to watch this in the original Russian audio with subtitles. When I purchased this movie, it defaulted to a (in my opinion) poorly overdubbed English audio version, which irritated me. Changing over to Russian audio with English subtitles made a huge difference for me.
Larger than life and more symbolic than historically accurate, "Stalingrad" is a hyperbolic action movie and not so much a war drama. I find that "Stalingrad" works well if the viewers' expectations are set at "cartoonish action movie;" however, those expecting a more serious war drama will be likely disappointed with this film. To paraphrase a review I read on Rotten Tomatoes -- this movie is a lot more like "300" than it is like "Saving Private Ryan."… Expand