You’ve got to give techo-junkie megger Fedor Bondarchuk points for chutzpah; not just anyone could have re-imagined the Battle of Stalingrad as Snow White and the 7 Patriotic Eunuchs! And in IMAX 3D! Pointlessly bookended by a modern natural catastrophe, the tale is told in flashback by a son of the teenaged girl who was protected & impregnated (don’t ask) by a cross-section of Soviet stalwarts, all holding out in an apartment building as the Germans close in. No Wicked Stepmom, instead, a shrieking Nazi Commandant who sends in forces led by a noble huntsman besotted by a blonde willowy Ruskie gal who reminds him of his deceased Aryan wife. Bondarchuk pours on CGI and digital editing tricks like a chef trying to disguise spoiled meat, but you won’t believe in a single bullet, let alone the tanks, air strikes or naval fleets that clog up the visual texture. Logic & logistics are not a Bondarchuk priority. For that matter, does he really want to compare the Nazi invasion with a natural disaster? It's all slightly appalling.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Fedor is the son of Sergey Bondarchuk, the Soviet-approved mediocrity who megged & starred in WAR AND PEACE/’67, almost certainly the most expensive film ever made. Then followed up with his English-language debut on Dino de Laurentiis’s WATERLOO/’70, a critical/commercial disaster for all concerned. How fitting that Fedor is now set to continue the tradition, following this film, and his Sci-Fi INHABITED ISLAND pics, all indifferently received outside of Russian, by prepping his English-language debut with Homer’s THE ODYSSEY! Will lightning not strike twice?
WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Within its limited scope, Jean-Jacques Annaud’s ENEMY AT THE GATE/’01, w/ Jude Law & Joseph Fiennes is a pretty decent, pretty exciting film on the Siege of Stalingrad. Better yet, there's Tarkovsky’s remarkable IVAN’S CHILDHOOD/’62, though it’s not set in the city.