cranky home
Reviews since 1993:   A-E     F-N      O-Z    Posters       Who We Are and Why We Do What We Do         Search the Site

Your Donations support the Site

amazon.gif
Top Selling DVD     Books

BLU-RAY DVDs:
50 Shades of Grey
Exodus Gods and Kings
Grand Budapest Hotel
Imitation Game, The
Into the Woods

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Robocop
Selma
Theory of Everything
Ride Along
We're the Millers
The Great Gatsby
Akira
Avatar
The Avengers
Amazing Spider-Man
Girl w/ Dragon Tattoo
Dark Knight Trilogy
World War Z
Happy Feet 2
Iton Man 3 combo
Batman Begins
Dark Knight
Fifth Element
The Hangover
Hunger Games
James Bond 11 disc coll.
Lord of the Rings trilogy
Mission Impossible GP
Sherlock Holmes AGOS
Singing in the Rain
Snow White Huntsman
Star Trek Into Darkness combo
Star Wars Saga
21 Jump Street
Ultimate Matrix coll
X-Men First Class
X-Men Trilogy
X-Men Wolverine

 BLU-Ray for Family DVDs 
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Bambi
A Bug's Life
Cars
Chronicles of Narnia set
Coraline
Ghostbusters
Harry Potter 1-8 collection
Iron Man 2 combo
Kung Fu Panda
Lord of the Rings Trilogy Pinocchio
Pirates of Caribbean trilogy
Pixar short films
Ratatouille
Rio
Shrek the Whole Story
Sleeping Beauty
The Smurfs
combo
Snow White & 7 Dwarfs
Star Trek motion pictures set
Star Trek TNG Season One
Star Wars Saga (1-6)
Toy Story combo
Toy Story 2 combo
Toy Story 3 combo
Wall-E SE

OFCS

Search engine by FreeFind
Click to add search to YOUR web site!
click to search site

 DISNEY PIXAR DVDs
Alice in Wonderland
Bambi
Beauty and the Beast
Bolt
Cinderella
Coraline
E.T.
Kung Fu Panda
The Lion King
Mary Poppins 45th LE
Pinocchio
Princess Mononoke
Ratatouille
Rio 
Shrek the Whole Story
Simpsons Movie
Spider-Man Trilogy
Spirited Away
Star Trek movies set
Star Trek TOS (TV)
ST:TNG complete tv set
Star Wars Trilogy (1-3)
Star Wars Trilogy (4-6)
Toy Story DVD combo
Toy Story 2 DVD combo
Toy Story 3 DVD combo
Wallace and Gromit
Wall-E SE

Buy Movie collectibles
TV/Movie Collectibles

movie review query engine

NY film critics online

Privacy Policy


Click for full sized poster

Buy the Poster

Enemy at the Gates

Starring Joseph Fiennes and Jude Law; Rachel Weisz, Bob Hoskins and Ed Harris
Screenplay by Alain Godard and Jean-Jacques Annaud
Based on the book by William Craig
Directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud
website: www.enemyatthegatesmovie.com

IN SHORT: an ultra-intelligent war story though great production values sap some needed tension. [Rated R for strong graphic war violence and some sexuality. 131 minutes.]

The Soviet Union may have ultimately fallen because it was a repressive and corrupt perversion of a political philosophy formed in the cauldrons of nineteenth century industrial exploitation of the working class that had no ability to adapt to the technological changes of the twentieth century, but we think it fell because of the music. There is nothing like the military style chorus music that washes back and forth in the soundtrack of Enemy at the Gates to make you glad that the good guys, in this case the Russians, ultimately vanished from the face of the earth.

Enough about politics. Enemy at the Gates is a war story. Russians versus Nazi Germany with a bit of class warfare and a competition for the hand of a woman tossed in for good measure. Under the guidance of director (and co-scriptor, with Alain Godard) Jean-Jacques Annaud, Enemy at the Gates this is a story that takes its sweet time to play out, but puts its money on the big screen. If ever there was a grander recreation of what a major city looked like in the middle of a siege, which is what the Battle of Stalingrad seems to have been, we haven't seen it. Then again, making war movies in which the heroes are Soviets is something relatively new to these American eyes. This European production doesn't have to do much to get the point across to a continent that is still wracked by war but the production values, added to the fact tat the story compresses three months of time into two hours of big screen pictures, hampers the tale. But just a little bit..

Stalingrad, as we learn from the preface to this story, was all that stood between Hitler's armies and control of the Russian oil fields to the East. Control of those fields would have provided enough fuel and resources to the Reich that the War would have, essentially, been over. The Nazi forces have trucks and tanks and bombers and tons of ammunition. The Russians have one carbine rifle for each soldier; the gunless soldiers get a handful of bullets and orders to pick up the guns of the fallen. Their commanding officers bravely watch the back lines, manning machine guns with which to shoot down the "deserting" conscripts.

In this "no win situation" the first soldier we meet is political officer commissar Danilov (Joseph Fiennes) whose job is to write propaganda for the huddled masses. With the bad luck to be caught in a battle zone, Danilov's doom is a certainty, until he passes his rifle (grabbed from one of the dead) to a "gunless" one, Vassili Zaitsev (Jude Law). Five dead Nazis later, Russia is about to crown its newest Hero of the Motherland. At the urging of his boss, Nikita Kruschev (Bob Hoskins), Danilov uses radio and what remains of the press to turn Vassili into a national hero. Both fall in love with Tania (Rachel Weisz) whose mom Mother Filipov (Eva Mattis) and brother Sacha (Gabriel Marshall-Thomson) are also involved in the war effort. The last of our good guys is Koulikov (Ron Perlman), veteran sniper and Vassili's closest ally. Koulikov has no teeth, and that story underscores the utter incompetence and paranoia of the entire Soviet system.

On the other hand there is Nazi Major Konig (Ed Harris), an aristocratic old school type. Unlike the pompous officers with which he serves, Konig is a killer. His eyes are cold, his trigger finger is steady and he is a lot smarter than his assigned target. It doesn't take Vassili long to learn that, eventually, he will lose the competition. He discerns that from demonstrations of Konig's skill. What the Russian doesn't know is that there is a traitor within his own forces, feeding detailed information to the Nazis.

That's all you need to know. We've laid out what bothered us about Enemy at the Gates above. In the grand scheme of things, they are minor points in a very well crafted war story. It's a difficult thing to have a story in which the two characters can't physically confront each other in the classic John Wayne on a deserted street style. When the two do face each other, there's a nice touch that visually communicates how much they know about each other.

We haven't mentioned "the love story" because it's important in more ways than you could possible imagine. We're not even going to give you a hint.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Enemy at the Gates, he would have paid...

$6.00

Pace and music are the negatives. Most will have no problem ignoring the music.

amazon com link Click to buy films by Jean-Jacques Annaud
Click to buy films starring Jude Law
Click to buy films starring Joseph Fiennes
Click Here!

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.