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Average User Score: 4.5Jul 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
Average User Score: 7.1Jul 13, 2014This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Snowpiercer shouldn't work as a film, but somehow it does. The whole premise is so unlikely that most viewers would have to suspend disbelief just to watch it in the first place.
The themes of survival, class warfare, and sustainability are all covered in the microcosm of a dystopian "rattling ark." The storyline gives the viewers just enough information to draw conclusions about the world that they're witnessing and the cryptic symbolism gives audiences something to mull over (for example, what was the meaning of the fish blood ritual prior to the meelee sequence between the rebels and the train security forces? I'm assuming it correlates to Mason's later explanation of the aquarium later on and the idea of "culling" the population to keep things in balance).
While the cast performances overall were outstanding, I found Tilda Swinton to be particularly brilliant here as the comically draconian Mason; as was Kang-ho Song as Nam, who is arguably the true protagonist of the film.
Interestingly, I rented this on iTunes and watched it at home without realizing that it is a current release in theaters. I guess I like the trend of current releases being available on home video, but I also enjoy seeing movies on the big screen in a theater setting, so I hope the instant gratification of digital downloads doesn't make the theatre experience go completely "extinct."… Expand
Average User Score: 6.9Jul 13, 2014This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Brilliantly filmed and excellently scripted, "Generation War" treads carefully on the subject of what it was like to be a citizen of Nazi Germany during WW2, yet delivers a compelling storyline nonetheless.
"Generation War" enjoys outstanding performances from its cast. I found Miriam Stein as Charlotte downright charming and thought that Tom Schilling and Volker Bruch gave very convincing performances as two brothers serving in the Wehrmacht who both become disillusioned with the war in very different ways. From a storytelling point of view, the character arcs of all five of the main protagonists alone earn the mini-series high marks.
As far as historical accuracy, having read history texts that include letters and statements from Germans during the second world war, I think that "Generation War" is tenuously believable, although it depicts five young people whose views start out on the more socially liberal side of the German political spectrum during this time period. (Spoilers to follow) I encountered a few moments during this film plot-wise where I could not suspend disbelief: namely when the character Viktor escapes from a moving train and when a Russian POW character whom Charlotte betrays early in the movie later returns as a Soviet NKVD officer. However, I consider both of those to be minor issues that did not detract from my overall enjoyment of the movie.
Few countries have had to bear such existential guilt as the Germans have concerning WW2, and it is a subject that most modern Germans will avoid discussing. I can imagine that "Generation War" (called "Our Mothers, our Fathers" in German) would have a very different impact on a German audience than it did on me as an American with an academic interest in history.… Expand