The massive scale of this film kind of distracts us from the more subtle plotting, obliterating any emotional connection with the thinly written characters. But it looks terrific, and offers an unusual perspective on the pivotal WWII battle for this strategic Russian city on the shores of the Volga River. It's also packed with gigantic set-pieces rendered in explosive 3D.
As Hitler's army advances across Russia in 1942, they find unusual resistance in Stalingrad, as pockets of resistance fight back while Russian soldiers replenish the forces from across the river. After one particularly brutal battle, five Russian soldiers led by Captain Gromov (Fyodorov) hole up in a vitally positioned building, where they discover 18-year-old Katya (Smolnikova) hiding. Each of the men falls for her, using her as inspiration as they fend off assaults from the tenacious German Captain Kahn (Kretschmann), who also has a young Russian woman (Studilina) he's in love with. But this stand-off can't go on forever.
Strangely, this story is framed by scenes set during the rescue effort after Japan's 2011 earthquake and tsunami, as a relief worker recounts the story of his mother Katya and his "five fathers". These sequences are also elaborately re-created with digital effects, but his implausibly all-knowing narration muddles the film's main plot. Through him we get the back-stories of all five men: the soulful Astakhov (Bondarchuk), sardonic Polyakov (Smokyakov), cheeky Chvanov (Lysenkov), mute-artistic Nikiforov (Barabash) and of course the tough-handsome Gromov. All of these men are relentlessly heroic in anecdotes that feel like they're lifted from urban legends, incluiding battlefield miracles and the creation of a steamy bath for Katya's birthday.
Continue reading: Stalingrad Review
In 1942 during World War II, Nazi Germany attempts a brutal invasion of the Russian city Stalingrad. Fortunes initially look to be in their favour as the Soviet Union fails to protect their town from a lethal shower of bombs which level most of the buildings, but an incredible determination forces the Soviet forces to continue their defence, no matter how futile it may seem. One group of soldiers decide to do their best to defend one of the few important buildings of the city still standing from being reduced to rubble and along the way find themselves putting all their fears aside to protect two Russian women living there. It soon becomes clear that unity and love are the only things that can really bring them victory in one of the bloodiest battles in human history.
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