Action / Drama / War
Action / Drama / War
Stalingrad has become hell and paradise for those who were worthy of awards, but the only reward they managed to get was love. How they won, and how they were not defeated, who they were and who was on the other side of the street, what secret they have taken away with them - the movie will tell this story.
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May 12, 2018 at 05:40 PM
Not the epic movie the trailers suggested
When I seen the trailers for this movie, I was gob-smacked. The superb VFX suggested an epic movie about the battle for Stalingrad. Great, this was going to be like "The Longest Day" or one of the other huge classic World War II movies. After the initial opener set in another part of the world, we get to Stalingrad. After some opening battle scenes which are very well done indeed, the realization sets in that what looks like an epic movie is in fact one set around a square in the city, and mainly on the now famous Pavlov's House. The events depicted are set before The Russians encircled The Germans, so we don't get to see the sight of half starved Germans. The movie settles into segments where the Russian heroes all seem to be obsessed with gaining the attentions or affections of 15 year old Russian civilian girl (Natashka) who bravely stayed in her home despite the carnage visited on the city. The apparent intention of the movie to show a love story set in Stalingrad isn't properly thought-through, simply because the hero who eventually wins Natashka's heart is a bolt out of the blue, with little in the way of cluing-in the viewer as it develops. We are left disengaged and wondering what and why about this. Thomas Kretschmann plays German officer Peter Kahn, whose main priority seems to be with a Russian woman (Masha) who reminds him of his wife who died in an air raid back in Germany. He literally puts aside all common sense and military discipline with his obsession for Masha. He defies orders, displaying little interest in the battle and risking court-martial and the firing squad. There are many good things about this movie. The VFX and sound are amazing, absolutely first class and up there with the very best. The realism they crammed into the VFX just has to be seen and appreciated. The German Panzer tanks are in fact a single Russian T34 disguised as a Panzer IV and then replicated by the VFX team into several more Panzers. Others have mentioned that Panzer IV tanks of 1942 didn't have the protective metal skirts shown in the movie, but to me that is nit-picking. The German aircraft flying overhead and the flak coming up at them is an amazing scene, as is the one where we see a damaged plane coming in and crash landing in the square. The hand to hand fight scenes are very realistic. The period uniforms seem to be quite accurate, especially the German ones. The general appearance of the uniforms is welcome and shows them grubby and dusty, which makes a welcome change from the unrealistically shiny boots and helmets in the thick of battle that we see in many war movies. Great attention to detail has been given to this. We get some aerial views of the banks of the Volga and the VFX period-recreated city damaged and on fire, which is very satisfying. They give the viewer a tantalizing glimpse and feel of how close the Germans came to victory. While overall I don't think this was a bad movie at all, I do think an opportunity to expand it more was lost. I watched this with sub-titles and the quality of translation is pretty poor in places, with small mistakes that I found annoying. There really is little excuse for this. For me, the VFX team saved the day. Their work and that of the make-up people is a credit to them and helps make this movie visually better than it otherwise deserves to be. I am giving this movie a 7 as a mark of respect and appreciation for the work the VFX and make-up team did. There is a short (about 9 minutes I think) "VFX Making Of" on Youtube that I highly suggest watching as it shows how the VFX was done.
This movie should have been so much better...
As others have stated here what we though we were going to get with this film was finally an epic film about the battle of Stalingrad on the scale of the likes of A Bridge Too Far - Unfortunately of the three big budgeted movies made of this battle (The other two being the somewhat mishandled Enemy At The Gates and the Excellent German Stalingrad film) this is the worst, which is a shame as it had so much potential.
A group of Russian soldiers find themselves hanging onto a junction house blocking the way to the river which they must defend at all costs, and the Germans occupy the street across from them and continually fail to take it. The Russians all fall for the same girl, Katya, who is the only civilian survivor in the house. The German semi-senior officer (Kretchman) finds himself falling for a Russian woman who reminds him of his dead wife. After a promising start the film settles into over stated Russian melodrama with a huge intrusive score bashing its way into almost every scene making the moments in the film when its actually needed less effective. The film is narrated by the off spring of one of the main characters but I can't but wonder if this was an after thought to actually fill in for the lack of character that everyone seems to possess. Any real meant to fill out the characters bones is really missing from the script and while the acting is not at fault here the blame must lay with the writing and over concept here. True, by this time in the war, men are reduced to all but shadows of their former selves and having them revealed to be more human in fragile moments works at times and is one of the films few strengths but its not enough to save the film from being predictable, hollow and at times frankly boring.
What is out standing about the film is the VFX and Production design which is really first rate. The costumes and details of the period are incredibly accurate and everyone looks like they have been through several years of war already. the look of the film feels great but this cannot save the films many weak points. The Germans are all fairly one dimensional bad guys while the Russians are a little more redeemable but most of their back story always comes in the form of narration and not in their actual actions or dialogue. Some of the characters are a little more interesting than others but on the whole they're a pretty forgettable bunch. The big ending is rather an anti climax and there is no real pay off other than we know someone survived and had a kid who went on to tell the tale of their five fathers, being five characters in this film. (Even though at one point there's clearly six but never mind!)
The battle itself isn't put into any kind of historical context in the film in terms of the impact it had on the war or the change of history that followed. I mean this might as well have taken place in Kharkov or Rostov, save for the shots of the river, it really could have been anywhere, but we're reminded its Stalingrad because of some statues.
Films like A Bridge Too Far, The Longest Day and even the Historically inaccurate but far more watchable Battle Of The Bulge work because they tell the story of a large sweeping battle from beginning to end with and still manage to keep you interested with real characters and interesting moments. Here we have a film that can't make up its mind if its an action film or a love story - it tries to be both and succeeds at neither.
A shameful waste as the talent was clearly there.
Read more IMDb reviews
Very poor film about great battle
Actually, this film MUST not have its name. There is nothing about Stalingrad battle... Yes, cute pictures how burned Soviet soldiers attacking German positions and slow-motion hand-to-hand battles looks nice, but that is nothing related to real history of this battle.
In terms of scale the film does not give the answer at least about one local engagement in Stalingrad in WW2, especially if take into account that there were a lot of such events. Heroes behaves really strange and illogical sometimes. Very messy scene where commander made hysteric about killed German soldier who came for water. "Even animals do not devour each other at the watering!" he says. What? Hey, director, haven't you seen "Animal planet"?..
So the good name for this film is "Saving girl Katya", but not "Stalingrad". It's just a director's fantasies about THE WAR, and how does he see it, but there is nothing related to Stalingrad battle at all. Now we can easily change decorations and make film with same mental content named "Berlin" or "Kiev", because we could simply imagine the same "war story" anywhere. So, why Stalingrad?..