Fedor Bondachuk is hardly the first director to bring the legendary battle of Stalingrad to the screen, one of the bloodiest confrontations in World War II and a turning point in the war. Stalingrad 3D is, however, the most ambitious production to tackle the subject. The first Russian film to be entirely shot in 3D and released in the 3D IMAX format, it is a strange cross-breed between an old-fashioned WW2 epic full of genre clichés and a modern update whose meticulous historical recreation is frighteningly real.
At least the characters in this patriotic love-in are mostly believable, and the script does a decent job of getting us from one incendiary battle scene to the next by focusing on the human costs of war in a densely populated city. It’s a commercially clever product too, which with its video-game nods, careful avoidance of a black-and-white, goodies and baddies approach to the battle, pick n’ mix referencing of other genres from horror to kung fu to Western, and worthy modern-day Tohoku earthquake narrative frame, has been crafted to appeal to audiences outside Russia.