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Showing 1-10 of 48 reviews(2 star). Show all reviews
on September 5, 2001
I had high hopes for this film, and perhaps that's why I was so let down by it. A movie based on a very dramatic true life showdown between snipers during World War II featuring the amazingly talented actors Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love) and Ed Harris (Pollock) can't miss, right? Unlike the sharpshooters in the story, this flick misses badly. Mostly I blame the director, although the writer gets a big chunk of blame as well. The director, Jean-Jacques Annaud, seems concerned only with the visual effectiveness of the backdrops of this film and with nothing else. Joseph Fiennes is a terrific actor but the director allows his British mannerisms to show even though he's playing a Russian. Every time Fiennes pronounced Tonya as "Tonyer" it made the movie a little less real, which is the last thing a viewer wants from a historical drama.
What I'll never understand is why the writer didn't stay true to history. The historical facts are much more dramatic than the story told here. Gone is the three day standoff between the Russian and German. Remember in Saving Private Ryan when the German sniper was killed by the bullet passing through his scope and hitting him in the head? That's how the real story in Stalingrad ended, but not in this film. The reason for this change is one of the snipers wants to go back to being a regular soldier. No reason is really given for his wishes. This is especially bad since he was pretty keen on becoming a sniper in the first place. The ending is anticlimactic, mainly because for most of the film we see the two snipers playing a game of cat and mouse. When one finally kills the other, it has nothing to do with sniping, and is only marginally connected to the game they were previously playing.
The German sniper (Ed Harris) is woefully two dimensional, though Ed Harris manages to make him interesting even if we are never presented with the character's motivation beyond a single mention that his son was killed at Stalingrad when the Germans first attacked. The Russian's motivation is based in Hollywood clichés. This introduces a love interest and a spunky kid spy, as though simply staying alive isn't motivation enough. Despite some good acting (Bob Hoskins is wonderful as Kruschev), the movie descends into nothing more than a bland Hollywood war story.
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on June 5, 2014
This is one of the movies that actually makes people who watch it less intelligent. While the VERY broad facts the story is based on actually happened, the movie is pure fiction despite being based on real people. Of course, all that would be forgivable if the acting wasn't so poor and the storyline so predictable.
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on April 20, 2016
Excellent story line- but BluRay had to be replaced once, this one is barely satisfactory as every few minutes the sound track would try to self adjust. Great story, poor video and audio. Already replaced once.
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on July 29, 2004
Jean-Jacques Annaud directs this movie surrounding true characters and events during the WWII campaign for Stalingrad: the turning point against Germany in the Eastern Front.

Jude Law plays Vassily Zaitzev a Russian peasant who enrolls with the Red Army and is sent to Stalingrad to get his first combat experience. As the battle progresses, he soon finds himself to be one of the best marksmen in the Red Army. Frustrated at the losses suffered during the constant skirmishes, the German army seeks to send their own specialized marksman to dispose of Vassily. German Major Konig (Ed Harris) takes the challenge and vows to kill Vassily and bring honor back to the Wermacht.

The movie tries to capture the audience into the horrors of Stalingrad but becomes trapped by its own Hollywood style. The characters quickly become two-dimensional stereotypes lost in conventional and predictably boring Hollywood sub-plots canned with the usual cliche dialogue. The love story was unecessary, stereotypical, and just plain irritating. Throughout the movie, the director seemed more interested at making humorous jabs of Soviets and communism instead of emphasizing the dramatic elements of the plot. This undermined the director's attempts at presenting the story as a true drama and instead reduced it to the credibility level of a generic Rambo 3 movie.

The movie isn't worth owning or a second look after rental. For a more sober portrayal of this decisive battle and its effects on the human condition, I would recommend the two German films titled "Stalingrad" instead.
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on May 26, 2002
Ok, lemme begin by explaining why i think this film is raping history. For those of you that havent read a book about Stalingrad and what REALLY happened there, it will will be hard to understand why this film is offensive and this must be said beforehand. But facts are facts, and no matter what Hollywood's "needs" are when trying to score a box office hit i think it's a sacrilege to the 100s of 1000s of ppl who lost their lives in that battle to do films like this one.
First of all, if we are to take for granted what this film shows what happened was that the Russian army was an ill-trained bunch of peasants running mindlessly into machine gun fire. Also, while the Wermacht was roaming the city there is no Russian army to be seen defending it except for the odd sniper here or there, plus, the Russians are portrayed as an army equipped only with rifles when in reality they had some of the most advanced technology of the time both in hand weapons as well as in heavy weapons.
The Stalingrad battle took place as much outside the city in the open steppes where 1000s of ppl died by freezing or starvation as well as inside the city where the battle was literally taking place face to face. There are accounts of German soldiers occupying the top 3 floors of a building and the Russians the bottom floors!!! All this, along with a plethora of other facts are spectacularly ABSENT from this film. But perhaps the most notable thing being absent from it is the fact that the German army was just as much in panic and despair as the Russian one could be if not more. All history accounts agree to the fact the Stalingrad was the personal hell of every German soldier, a fact also shining by its absence in this film. Even the story between the Russian and the German sniper isn't completely accurate but this is minor compared to the overall picture...
This is not the first time Hollywood butchers history nor will it be the last. And maybe Hollywood is actually improving when one thinks of the surreal distortion of history they did recently with "Pearl Harbor"...
So, any positive stuff concerning this flick? Sure. Ed Harris gives his usual stunning performance. Jude Law is very good too allthough to me he hardly brought in mind a Russian, it looked more like a British soldier having a trasnfer over to the Red Army. The production (keeping in mind the overwhelming innacuracies) is incredible, and especially the depiction of the ruined city. The duel itself between the two snipers involved is superbly given and it's probably the one thing that keeps this movie going. In that sense, think of this film more as a "war thriller" than a war film because the real Stalingrad story was many dozens of times more brutal than this and, as i mentioned above, totally different.
And lastly, is ths film worth watching? Yes, if you are aware WHAT it is you are watching. If you know you are watching a nicely filmed lie then yes. If not then no.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon June 29, 2001
This could have been an excellent film. It should have focused entirely on the cat and mouse tactics employed by the German Major Konig (Ed Harris) and Soviet Vassily Zaitzev (Jude Law), both snipers trying to bring the other out into the open. However, the film constantly shifts focus between the Soviet propaganda officer (Joseph Fiennes) and female Soviet soldier (Rachel Weisz) in a ridiculous love triangle. This totally destroys the pace of the film and detracts from its main subject. By the time of the denouement there is no emotion felt. The characters, the two protagonists, are never given any real depth to lend meaning to their actions and motivations. The only emotion felt, is delivered by James Horner's score during the scenes when the two men actually do confront each other. This film is an example of a lost opportunity.
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on May 25, 2003
When I first heard about "Enemy at the Gate", I was intensely excited: one of my favorite directors (Jean-Jacques Arnaud, who produced such brilliant, intriguing, and engaging spectacles as "Name of the Rose", "The Bear", and "Seven Years in Tibet") helming up a film about a sniper duel in the ruins of Stalingrad during the darkest days of World War II. Leaving aside the question of who to root for (the Nazis or the Soviets, gee, great choice), I was giddy with anticipation: after all, the Eastern Front of WWII is an overlooked genre, even though most of the carnage occurred in the clash between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia.
The only war film to really deal with the horrific death-struggle between the totalitarian empires of Stalin and Hitler is "Stalingrad", Joseph Vilmaier's traumatic study of the effects of the chaotic Eastern Front on a squad of German troopers. What was most exciting about the prospect of "Enemy at the Gate", which deals with the same period, is the struggle between the Russian sniper Vasily Zaitzev (Jude Law) and his German counterpart and would-be assassin, Major Konig (Ed Harris). What could be better than a personal duel between two of the war's deadliest snipers, played out over the Ragnarokian fight between the war's two deadly evils?
Ah, what could have been. "Enemy at the Gate," for all its excellent production value and directorial talent, stumbles badly. Some movies should be content to snuggle into their subject and remain there, and this is one of them. "Enemy" fails in that it tries to do too many things, and does all of them poorly. Jude Law plays Zaitzev, a young Russian sniper who rallies the morale of the battered Russian defenders of Stalingrad by harrying the Nazis in the ruins; Ed Harris plays Konig, the German sniper sent to kill Zaitzev and spare the Fuhrer embarrassment.
Had Arnaud stuck to the intricate game of cat-and-mouse between the snipers, "Enemy at the Gate" could have approached sheer brilliance, and would certainly have been a classic. Lamentably, the movie throws in two other themes that eventually hobble the film: national politics (with Bob Hoskins wasted as a flatulent Nikita Krushchev), and a miserable love triangle between Zaitzev, a Russian woman adjutant (played by the ever-tasty Rachel Weisz), and a Russian officer Danilov (played blandly by the overrated Joseph Fiennes).
It is simply too much for the movie to handle well, and distracts from the real conflict between the snipers. As a result, the love-triangle feels forced and pedantic; I found myself wishing that the hopeless affair would get resolved so we could get back to the action.
When Arnaud centers on the duel between his protagonists, the movie is at its best---and in these sequences, filmed amid the smoking ruins of Stalingrad, the film delivers. But as Nietzsche said, 'one criticizes most accutely when one compares to the Ideal", and "Enemy at the Gate" could have been so much better. Because Arnaud forces us to skip back and forth between the sniper duel, the romance, and the political sequences, the sniper scenes themselves suffer, seem disjointed, and ultimately the duel itself gets lost in the shuffle. Think the final conflict between Harris and Law is going to be exciting? Think again; the final duel ends lamely and awkwardly, and Harris's character behaves in a way that is so totally out of character as to be unbelievable.
There are some sensational moments in the film: the scenes of German Stukas dive-bombing Russian transports are horrific and brilliantly conceived, as are the harrowing sequences where ill-equipped Russian soldiers, unarmed, ran behind their comrades into battle, waiting for the man ahead of them to drop so they could use his weapon. Arnaud also gets the feel of bombed-out and gutted Stalingrad just right, and has made a perfect playground of death for his combatants.
But far too many things are wrong with this film; Jude Law, an excellent and disciplined actor, plays Zaitzev with quiet and deadly dignity, but he seems bursting to be allowed to act. Harris, usually a solid actor, seems awkward with his role, and delivers his lines in a stilted voice. Ron Perelman, an old alumnus from Arnaud's "Quest for Fire" (where he played a Cro-Magnon), seems wrong given the tone of the movie, and it is almost a relief when he is shot.
Ultimately "Enemy at the Gate" succumbs to its flaws, and is far more frustrating that it is satisfying. The viewer thinks back to the promising opening sequence, where a young Zaitzev sights a wolf through his telescope, and wonders: ah, if only the director could have let us see the war through the eyes of the two 'wolves' and their telescopes, what a satisfying film "Enemy" might have been.
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on March 29, 2002
Some facts are taken from the real history, then exaggerated, distorted or falsified. Russians would have never won this one of the greatest battles in the world history if they were such idiots as they are shown in this movie. The only worthy episode in the film is the strange sexy scene between main characters. The principal actors play OK. Especially I liked Ed Harris.
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on June 17, 2006
Honestly, the only line missing from this film is:

"Oy you, I shoot for the ruddy Soviets too! Get them Jerries, I will!"

The actual Soviet Stalingrad veterans were so offended by inaccuracies in the movie and the insulting way in which the movie portrays the Soviet army, that they asked the Russian Parliament to ban the film in Russia.

The acting is downright lousy as are the stupid and highly unnecessary British accents. The stupid British kid posing as a Russian spy, the stupid British guy posing as a Soviet sniper... Even Bob Hoskins (American) throws in the fake UK accent (So irritating!) But the ultimate laugh was when Ed Harris is mixing English and German together in his sentences. Just annoying altogether. They should have done this film in Soviet-era Russian and Third Reich German, as executed so well in "Downfall."

"Enemy At The Gates" bombed at theaters for a reason, and it is in the Amazon bargain bin for a reason: It's a stupid film.

Skip this one, and get "Downfall" instead. You will not be dissappointed with that film, I assure you.
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on April 21, 2002
Just another Hollywood love story wrapped in pseudo-Russian atmosphere.
The actors have nothing in common with Russians and Russian history. A big laugh for anyone familiar with reality!
The screenplay is written with little respect for the nation that won the battle of Stalingrad and saved Europe from Nazi Germany.
If you are looking for entertainment - go ahead and see the movie, if you want to find out more about WWII and Russia - forget about this film...
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