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Stalingrad 2013

Stalingrad (Сталинград) is a 2013 Russian World War II 3D action-romance-drama film by Fedor Bondarchuk, the son of director Sergei Bondarchuk. It stars Petr Fedorov, Thomas Kretschmann, and Alexey Barabash. It was billed as being the first Russian movie to use IMAX technology. The movie takes place during the historical Battle of Stalingrad (currently known as Volgograd), and is particularly inspired by the actions of Yakov Pavlov.

Despite being extremely successful at the Russian box office, the movie was met with polarizing (but largely negative) reception from critics and viewers worldwide. The movie caused so much controversy in Russia to the point that there was a petition to ban and boycott the movie, which went nowhere.

Plot

During the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, a Russian humanitarian aid worker tries to rescue a German woman who is trapped underground. To calm her down, he tells her a story about how he had five fathers; Soviet soldiers who fought in Stalingrad. The soldiers decide to take cover and defend an apartment building against German attacks being led by Hauptmann (Captain) Peter Kahn (Kretschmann).

While inside the apartment, they form a bond with Katya (Maria Smolnikova). At the same time, Kahn tries to survive the battle along with his lover, Masha (Yanina Studilina), who reminds him of his deceased wife.

Why It Sucks

  1. The title itself comes across as being uninspired, given the fact that the title was already used for a 1993 German movie starring Kretschmann.
  2. A rather unnecessary framing device, in the form of the scenes that take place in 2011 Japan.
  3. Overuses slow motion effects to the point of unintentional comedy and ripping off 300.
  4. Hit-and-miss CGI effects that wouldn‘t be out of place from a post-1999 George Lucas movie.
  5. Slow paced battle scenes that lacked any tension or suspense.
  6. Cliché and downright melodramatic romantic subplots.
  7. Dreadfully bad soundtrack from the otherwise acclaimed Angelo Badalamenti, previously known for collaborating with director David Lynch in some of his movies.
  8. Does a seriously poor attempt at humanizing German soldiers; Kahn comes across as being a one-dimensional shell-shocked soldier while his commanding officer (Heiner Lauterbach) is portrayed like a stereotypical Nazi aristocrat. Everyone else is portrayed like faceless goons with bare minimum characterization.
  9. Dreadful English dub, caused by the fact that the voice actors playing the Soviet soldiers all sound the same, speaking with low-pitched voices.
  10. On more controversial grounds, many reviewers on IMDB who hated this movie accused it of being a blatant propaganda piece which glorifies war. It should be noted that the director is pro-Putin, and supported the Russian military intervention in Ukraine. However, hilariously enough, several Russian viewers felt that the movie failed to pay homage to the soldiers who fought in the actual battle.

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