When I saw the preview for the first time I was intrigued. Right up until the point that I realized that it had a love story. <heavy sigh>
Ostensibly, this movie is set in Stalingrad. They try to make a big deal of the epic struggle at the beginning of the move. But after the opening sequences the setting could have been anywhere. They didn't capture the feeling of the Stalingrad campaign. They did almost nothing to portray the bitter cold of a Russian winter. After seeing the movie Stalingrad this movie felt very sterile in comparison. Despite showing some gore at the beginning via some head-shots, most of the movie seemed much too upbeat.
I did like portions of the opening scenes. That was a fairly clear portrayal of the desperate straights the Soviets were in. Soldiers jumped off the train and were herded immediately into small boats. They were ferried across the river while under fire from aircraft and artillery. Anyone who jumped off the boats was shot by officers on the boats. There was no hint of cohesive units and their leaders. These men were simply cannon fodder. When they got to the other side only half were given rifles. An officer was yelling, "The man with the rifle shoots! The man without the rifle follows. When the man with the rifle dies, the man without the rifle picks up the rifle and shoots." Then they were thrown at the Germans who were in a prepared position. When the soldiers started to retreat they were shot by their own officers, again.
But immediately after that it went Hollywierd. It gets very superficial very quickly. They show some of the propaganda leaflets describing his exploits. He accidentally bumps into his love interest, who they had planted earlier in the story. They don't describe how Ed Harris' character learned of the sniper. He just shows up as a VIP. They have Harris pull off an impossible shot to make him seem bigger than life.
Most of the supporting cast was very poorly fleshed out. Just sort of, "Here, this guy is supposed to teach the Soviet sniper. Oops, he's dead." Even the kid, who had a lot of screen time, was nearly one-dimensional.
Rosy read a review before we went that said something like, "This movie contains the least-sexy love scene between two beautiful people ever put on film." I certainly have to agree with that. The angle they used made it look like the girl's eyes were popping out, and the guy's hands were often near her throat. It almost looked like he was choking her. It really was clumsy, and the whole situation felt very contrived.
This was a standard Hollywierd bastardization of an historical drama. On my brother's Total Movie Value Scale, Cable with Dinner.
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