We live in a world, that quite frankly is getting smaller and smaller each and every day, and the action filmed war epics are no longer the exclusive domain of the Hollywood machine. "Stalingrad" is the first ever Russian produced IMAX 3D picture (now available on 3D Blu-Ray). While it certainly succeeds in crafting some epic action set pieces it is also has moments where it is a little lacking in the dramatic department.
"Stalingrad" is an epic look at the battle that turned the tide of World War II. A band of determined Russian soldiers fight to hold a strategic building in their devastated city against a ruthless German army, and in the process become deeply connected to two Russian women who have been living there.
While this huge scale film from director Fedor Bondarchuk is an amazing looking action affair, "Stalingrad" lacks the genuine emotional punch to be a truly memorable war movie.
Bondarchuk throws everything on the screen in an almost operatic style as the horrors of a brutal war and an intense battle that immerses the audience in the action that is happening in every single frame around us. While the use of 3D is a little tacky and played out, shooting it natively in IMAX does gives the film a grander scope. The script and subsequent subplot of a half baked connection and romance that these rag tag soldiers develop with a young girl left behind in the ruins of this war torn city landscape is a little thin. It was a neat twist having it open as present day with a narrator telling a story and the military duel between the Russian's and the German's played out in a borderline operatic style but the meat of the drama and the subplots were a little ham handed at best. It didn't even manage a sense of adventure or just pure action as the in-between material was all just a little too flat in order for it to genuinely work. Quite simply a war story without that feeling of gravitas or even a sense of adventure never quite works as well as it should.
A loaded international ensemble cast, Thomas Kretschmann as German Captain Peter Kahn is easily the most recognizable face in the lot and he makes for an excellently morally ambiguous foe as the remaining Russian soldiers try to take back their city. No one particularly did a bad job, but the film suffered from having too many different characters which made it difficult to engage with most of them on an emotional level with the plights that they were going through.
With a few too many tired clichés and stereotypes running throughout the entire film, it's an effort that looks obviously amazing but "Stalingrad" fails to connect on the same emotional or even entertainment level as the other epic war dramas that it aspires to be. It's still worth a look thanks to the battle sequences but it is mostly for the hard core war film enthusiast as simply too much gets lost in translation.
2 out of 5 stars.
Picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray are top notch and the special features include a Making Of look at "Stalingrad".
"Stalingrad" is now available for rent and purchase on DVD, Blu-Ray and On Demand from all major providers and retailers.