Enemy at the Gates

He isn't dead and do you know why? Because I haven't killed him yet.

A review by Mike Shea   Movie Rating: ( * * * * · )    DVD Rating: ( * * * · · )

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Enemy at the Gates is another in a string of realistic war pictures that has come out since Saving Private Ryan. This is unfortunate as reviewers like myself and Roger Ebert have a tendency to stick them all in a single basket with a giant yellow sticky on the outside saying "war movies". Enemy at the Gates is a different kind of war movie for a couple of reasons. First of all, it has a plot other than to show war. Second, it is set in an area of World War 2 that most college kids (including yours truly) know nothing about. Unfortunately, is the stink of Hollywood makes it not as perfect as it could have been.

Enemy at the Gates follows the short lifespan career of a Soviet sniper during the invasion of Nazi Germany into Stalingrad. It begins with a scene as powerful as Private Ryan's invasion of Normandy but then actually builds into a more interesting plot of a young and talented sniper against a veteran German sniper played beautifully by Ed Harris. All of the best scenes in this movie follow the cat and mouse game that these two play as they crawl around in the industrial wasteland of Stalingrad trying to frag each other.

Unfortunately, the story turns Hollywood on us by throwing in some cheezy romance and a love triangle. Now I have never been in combat but I played enough Quake 3 to effectively shoot up a high school, and I do know that love is a different emotion altogether when a bullet can poke you in the butt at any time. Instead of a fast and furious romance that matches the lives these communist live, we get the same drawn out formula romance in every movie that ever goes before the suits of Hollywood. Thinking that this is what women want in movies is about as stereotypical as thinking sticking a bunch of hot chicks on a bar will make a good PG porn. Throw in a political officers crush on the same girl and his own questioning of communism. Once again, in the trenches of war, these things have little place. In the trenches of Hollywood moneygrabbers, they seem the norm for any movie.

The DVD of Enemy at the Gates has a great 2.35 to 1 16x9 enhanced picture and a full Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. There is a pretty interesting making-of feature but no commentary and no DTS soundtrack. Movies like this deserve a bit more work than this.

I give it a hard time for the bullshit romance thrown into it, but this is really only a small piece of the story. The main plot of the movie is very well done and Ed Harris's performance makes it worth seeing all on it's own. If you can stomach the violence, take a look.