This Russian 3D spectacle comes preceded by an Imax trailer that blares: "MIND-BLOWING IMAGES! EARTH-SHATTERING SOUND!" – which I dare say accurately describes one of the grimmest episodes of the second world war.
Made by the director of 2005 Afghanistan war drama The 9th Company – and a leading Putin supporter – this account of the Battle of Stalingrad spares no expense, or CGI firepower, to tell the tale of five brave soldiers and a plucky lass (Maria Smolnikova) who stand alone between the German army and the Volga.
Bizarrely framed by an episode about the Japanese tsunami relief, this visually murky, narratively clunky drama feels like a throwback to the Soviet cinema of the 60s, with a splash of Sam Peckinpah and the odd Matrix-style flying-bullet effect. Stalingrad is certainly watchable in its overwrought bombast, but it's less a film than a $30m ideological monument.
It proves the Marxian adage that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as special-effects kitsch.
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