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Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Thomas Kretschmann in STALINGRAD.
2014, 131 minutes
Rated R for sequences of war violence

Review by Joshua Handler

Fedor Bondarchuk's Stalingrad is an entertaining, melodramatic film about a group of soldiers who protect a young woman throughout the Battle of Stalingrad during World War II.  As a spectacle, this is spectacular, but as a drama, the film has many flaws.

The film starts with a completely useless story that bookends the film.  After the opening scene, the film jumps right into a series of action scenes that are thrilling and well-directed.  Director Fyodor Bondarchuk takes full advantage of the IMAX 3D format.  Rarely are films necessary to see in IMAX 3D, but this is one of them.  If this film wasn't in IMAX 3D, it wouldn't be nearly as exciting and the dramatic flaws would be more apparent.  The gorgeous visual effects really pop off of the screen to create an immersive experience.

Each action sequence is shot with style and energy by cinematographer Maksim Osadchiy-Korytkovskiy, and Igor Litoninskiy's editing works in perfect sync with the cinematography to create battle sequences that are fast-baced and epic.

One dramatic strong point is the characters.  Every man in the company of soldiers is a unique, interesting individual and over the course of the film, I really began to care about them.  However, the story that surrounds them is unevenly paced, occasionally melodramatic, and chest-thumpingly patriotic.  Don't get me wrong, the men who fought in this battle for the Soviets were heroes, but the film paints them with a god-like glow, which is over-the-top.

Overall, Stalingrad is a good piece of entertainment.  If you're looking for high art, look elsewhere, but if you're looking for a well-crafted action film, this is definitely the film for you.


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