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
People are way overthinking this. If this was a Russian drama about demographic oppression or some famous Russian biopic, it would be getting 5-star ratings and glowing awards-nominations. Because it's a stylized blockbuster, it's somehow "less artistic." The film looks great, it sounds amazing, and the characters are well-acted and worth rooting for. The script isn't the most well-paced, but it works for what the movie is. I thoroughly enjoyed this.
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.
The total war film genre has been sidelined recently by more cloak-and-dagger type films (e.g. Zero Dark Thirty) that capture smaller, isolated events taking place within a larger conflict. Stalingrad is a return to the sweeping, epic grandeur of WWII classics while also introducing some modern visual effects and camera work. While the narration is clunky, the script serves to provide the characters with a sense of conscience and humanity. The film's greatest strength is undoubtedly the action sequences, featuring a unique blend of colorful touch-ups and slow-motion capturing.