Maybe you haven't heard of Stalingrad, but if you love 3D, it's about time you did. Russia's first IMAX 3D effort and biggest blockbuster ever, Stalingrad opens this Friday in the US, and only in 3D. Embedded in the city its named for, this World War II drama reveals the story of a motley band of Russian soldiers left to defend the city and its remaining residents against swarms of Nazi forces.
Our theatrical review weighs in on whether or not this new release is worth your time, while this column will focus solely on the film's use of 3D. Considering seven separate categories, To 3D Or Not To 3D evaluates the full scope of the 3D viewing experience. Think of it as a consumer's guide for your movie-going.
Is the story of Stalingrad fit for 3D? Absolutely! Think Saving Private Ryan in 3D. With a massive, sprawling set of the devastated Russian city, a barrage of jaw-dropping action sequences, and a string of insane explosions, there's plenty here that could stand out in 3D.
Planning & Effort Score
As you might imagine, director Fedor Bondarchuk took seriously the responsibility of helming Russia's first ever 3D IMAX movie. To get the most immersive 3D experience possible, Bondarchuk encouraged his cinematographer Maksim Osadchiy to shoot the entire film in stereo. To aquaint himself with the device's advances, Osadchiy consulted with the American 3D-supervisors and stereographers from The Amazing Spider-Man and The Hobbit. On the set, the crew employed seven Red Epic cameras and three types of rigs, to get them the best options for 3D setups. And the shot coverage and cinematography shows an incredible amount of thought for how the device would impact the look of the film.
Before the Window Score
This is the part of 3D where it appears elements of the movie are coming out into the theater. For Stalingrad these elements include sprays of bullets and blood, splinters of wood, and the flittering ash that coats this city of rubble. It definitely adds to the immersive quality of the film's 3D. However, I am deducting one point for the subtitles. Those too are a pop-out element. And frankly, it sometimes makes these words hard to read, as a slight echo of them appears on and off.
Beyond the Window Score
Conversely, this is the aspect of 3D that seems to stretch into the screen and beyond. Stalingrad makes fantastic use of this effect. The set of the ravaged town makes for an incredible backdrop. Wherever the camera turns there's rubble, ruin, and the carnage of war. The clarity of the Red cams' focus lets audiences take in all of it. But the 3D pulls us in, and makes us feel like we too are walking among the ash, corpses, and air thick with bullets and danger. Basically, it doesn't only give us spectacle. Here the 3D enhances the drama.
Wearing 3D glasses unavoidably dims a movie's picture to the viewer, so 3D releases must compensate. While the film is painted with plenty of greys and dark corners, none are lost. This is a really masterful execution of 3D.
Glasses Off Score
This is a simple test where this reviewer pulls off her 3D glasses to see how out of focus the picture is without them. Putting them back on, the 3D pops freshly to the eye, and you can get a sense of how much 3D you're getting. Every frame of this film offers dimension and framing meant to capitalize on the use of 3D. This is how 3D should be done.
Audience Health Score
Bad 3D can be bad for you, causing eyestrain, headaches or insomnia. While the 3D helped make my pulse speed up and my heart break, it didn't mess with my head or stomach.
3D SCORES RECAP
P & E
Before The Window
Beyond The Window
Glasses Off Test
Final Verdict: Usually the question of this column is whether to see the film in 3D or 2D, but Sony's release of Stalingrad eliminates the latter of these options. So, you either see Stalingrad in 3D or not at all. Frankly, it's a sharp move by Sony, because if you see this movie in 2D, it'd be a flat-out shame. With Russia's first attempt at IMAX 3D, they completely knocked it out of the park. Whether you find war movies fascinating, or just really love good 3D, you must see Stalingrad in 3D.
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Staff writer at CinemaBlend.