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Stalingrad 3D/IMAX


Stars: Pyotr Fyodorov, Thomas Kretschmann, Sergei Bondarchuk Jr., Mariya Smolnikova, Yana Studilina, Andrey Smolyakov, Dmitriy Lysenkov, Alexey Barabash, Oleg Volku, Polina Rainkina, Anna von Abler, Yuriy Vladimirovich Nazarov

Director: Fedor Bondarchuk

Positives first.

The first Russian IMAX film (shot in sometimes genuinely startling 3D as well) frequently looks spectacular, notably the blazing pyrotechnic action at the start of what is described in the narration as the “bloodiest battle in history” (in World War Two actually).

Visually director Fedor Bondarchuk’s aspirant battle blockbuster is definitely impressive: noisy, bright special effects, thundering sound effects and fine cinematography (Maxim Osadchiy) look impressive on the huge IMAX screen and, inevitably, overwhelm the cardboard characters stuck with portraying German and Russian soldiers.

But that’s all, folks, as far as a new(ish) plot, credible characterisation or memorable performances go.

Corn reigns.

In the hardly groundbreaking storyline (screenplay by Ilya Tilkin and Sergei Snezhkin, from a novel by Vasily Grossman) the Russians are defending a house and the young woman (Yanina Studilina) trapped in it in devastated Stalingrad from Germans out to kill them.

The Nazis, led by noble Thomas Kretschmann (who appeared 20 years ago in the 1993 German/Russian co-production 'Stalingrad'), resemble nothing so much as a band of refugee German characters from hundreds of regulation Hollywood and Pinewood World War Two movies (where is Anton Diffring when you need him?) while the Russians are equally cardboard in their characterisations.

But acting isn’t hardly the point here.

Action is.

And on a purely visceral-visual level, Stalingrad works well enough.

Alan Frank

Russia 2013. UK Distributor: Sony. Colour.
131 minutes. IMAX. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 22 Feb 2014