Critic Consensus: There's no arguing with its impressive production values, but Stalingrad should have devoted more attention to the screenplay and spent less on special effects-enhanced spectacle.
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Critic Reviews for Stalingrad
Too often does [Bondarchuk] goad his characters to brim over with righteous bloodlust-and, despite the occasional obligatory misgiving about the barbarism of war, goads the audience to lust right along with them.
If you thought Saving Private Ryan needed to be more like 300, then Stalingrad is the movie for you.
Overall, Stalingrad is a bizarre concoction, part Putin-era patriotic chest-thumping and part creaky war melodrama, all set in a superbly recreated ruined city.
Stalingrad is long and operatic, but its message is simple enough: War is hell, but hell, it makes for good cinema.
To wave a flag, sing a song and celebrate it as the uncomplicated and inevitable victory of good over evil is the sort of easy message only an old propagandist - or a president for life - could really cheer.
Audience Reviews for Stalingrad
Despite its good CGI and and epic feel, much of "Stalingrad" has a strange made-for-TV quality. The script is unsophisticated and dull, with very little actually happening that might measure up to the historical siege of the benighted city. Make no mistake -- this film does little to shed any light on the historic events of World War II. Moreover, the script is so full of empty Russian bravado and propaganda one wonders if Vladimir Putin had a hand in writing it. The people watching at my house actually guffawed several times during some of the more over-the-top/revisionist "dramatic" lines delivered by the actors. The actors on screen seemed almost adequate, but the voice acting on the dubbed English version is atrocious with every character sounding the same and completely devoid of any feeling. If the Nazis lobbed as many duds at Stalingrad as were lobbed by the actors in this film, I doubt there would have been a siege at all. "Enemy At The Gates" (2001) is a much better film in most every respect if you'd like to see a good Stalingrad war film.
This war film about the battle of Stalingrad manages to tell the story in a way that takes creative liberties with the facts, and conjures up a more action oriented, stylized film that is designed more as a popcorn action film than a straight forward history lesson. The film at best has its moments, and I will grant it that, and aesthetically, it's a good looking movie, but in terms of plot, it simply doesn't have anything going for it despite the fact that it's an interesting subject, and that's due because it takes creative liberties in order to make a more action packed rollercoaster ride. That's exactly what this film is, popcorn entertainment, and it's mindless viewing, and that's your cup of tea, then give it a shot, you might enjoy it, however to others looking for a bit more authenticity, you'll be greatly disappointed. There were times where I thought it was an entertaining picture, but then, it tried to do something completely different. In a way, it's an affair that just doesn't know exactly what it tries to accomplish. Taking the Stalingrad battle as a template for an adrenaline soaked action film just seems emotionless because here we are presented with characters that just aren't fully fleshed out, and they're practically caricatures of what you'd usually expect from a war film. Now, this isn't an awful film, but it's one that should have been much better as well. For me, the stylized action, with slow motion, just made it too hokey, and that was the film biggest weakness as well, as the lack of effective performances and good dialogue. This film is strictly for viewers who enjoy a mindless two hours of enjoyment, for others, they may want to look elsewhere for a more accurate, better detailed version of the events during the Battle of Stalingrad. Considering that this battle was the first major turning point during the Second World War, you'd expect something truly worthwhile, but this one just offers so little, and it's a shame.
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