REVIEW: Panfilov’s 28 Men (2017) – ManlyMovie

REVIEW: Panfilov’s 28 Men (2017)

Run Time: 120 Mins
Rated: 12
What To Expect: Expensive looking, old fashioned war

It’s nice to see a war movie show up now and again that does things the old way, even if we have to look in non-English areas.  Little to no CGI, location scouting (you know, instead of saying ‘fuck it, let’s blue-screen’), real vehicles, no camera shaking and so forth.  I gotta say, Russia is starting to move along in terms of making big movies, their industry is starting to find its feet in emulating Hollywood in their own way.  And Panfilov’s 28 Men is a fine war movie, I want to see more like it.

The movie is set in November 1941 as the German army approaches Moscow.  Strategically the Germans hummed and hawed about moving on Moscow; some argued that taking the capital of the USSR at full speed,earlier, would’ve ended the war.  But the fullness of time has proven this incorrect, had the Axis moved too soon, their left flank would’ve been fatally attacked by the Kiev pocket and taking Moscow would’ve been just another city, since the Soviet government had already evacuated mostly from there.  At any rate, this movie covers the German attack on the outskirts of the city and uses a tried and tested war formula… a handful of determined men fending off a vicious attack.

I’ll get my only complaints about this movie out of the way.  It’s a movie that is rated 12 (PG-13 effectively) and although it doesn’t feel like it and manages to retain a brutal tone, there should be more gore in a show like this.  It starts off with some tired clichés too, such as establishing the comedian trooper, the philosophical trooper etc.  What makes it worse is that the jokes aren’t funny and the insight isn’t thought provoking.  The dialogue is terrible and at times cringe inducing, like old war movies from the 1950s where nobody cursed and everyone was a propaganda poster angel.  But it’s a good thing that the movie starts to outpace these problems… the Krauts are coming!

I looked at the Wikipedia entry for this and it claims to have a $1.5 million budget… I couldn’t believe it.  This movie looks like a $60 million Hollywood production – it makes me wonder once again where these obscene Hollywood budgets are going… is the money being swindled? I mean, the cinematography of wintry outer Moscow is stunning if used properly and this director sure knows how to make it look like a (hellish) wonderland.  This was otherwise my only complaint about the brilliant Hacksaw Ridge for example, you can’t fake landscapes with digital projection.  The eye can tell.

This movie was also in part funded by Gaijin Games, a developer known for producing MMO tank game War Thunder.  So it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to find out that there are tanks in this movie, with highly accurate representation using real German Panzer IIIs and IVs.  They look amazing and sound and feel fearsome, with the director giving them a weighty feel that maybe only Steven Spielberg was able to show in Saving Private Ryan. That’s fucking cool.  Best of all, the editing and camera work is aloof and slick at the same time.  Now BS bewilderment here, you can see it all… who hit who and the consequences of each blow.

Minus the slow start, this is a great movie and the best depiction of the Battle of Moscow ever on film.