These are some weird folks…but the film sure kept my interest!
Soldiers of Paint is a rather strange documentary. Apparently, each year the world’s largest paintball tournament is held in Oklahoma—and it’s supposed to be a re-enactment of the Battle of Normandy (D-Day)! With about 4000 participants, it’s not as big as the actual battle…but it sure is big! Now I should point out that I have never played paintball nor am I particularly interested in the game. I know it’s become rather popular and I am sure the players would love this film. As for everyone else….I dunno—it’s certainly not for everyone.
The logistics for this competition are huge and so the film begins months before the actual re-enactment. Several people across the US are visited by the film crew—and some of the more committed participants are building home-made tanks and bazookas! That’s devotion and dedication for you! Additionally, the leaders of each team (the Germans and the Allied) are interviewed. It thought the strangest thing is how into this some folks get. Apparently, one year, one of the folks working with the ‘Germans’ planning the battle strategy was actually a spy for the Allies!! Weird…and rather funny.
The rest of the film, not surprisingly, is a highlights film about the competition—a competition that is broken up into various missions. Additionally, helpful screens with pop-ups occur periodically to explain what is happening—such as how scoring is done as well as what the missions are for each portion. In many ways, this is like a how-to video and is perfect for anyone looking to get into paintball or go so far as to travel there for the competition.
So did I love the film? No…nor would I expect to considering that I’d rather fish or scuba dive than play paintball! But it was extremely well constructed and looked better than you’d expect for such a film. It is NOT a movie made up of home video clips and noisy interviews—these folks (Michael DeChant, Doug Gritzmacher) are professional filmmakers. And, if you love the sport or are curious, then it’s certainly a good bet for you. As for everyone else, it’s a hard call.
I’ve recommended it to my sister-in-law and brother-in-law because their son is really into paintball and I am sure they’d like to see what happens in such a tournament. My nephew probably appreciates the recommendation because he hopes to go there one day—and maybe this film will push his parents to say yes! My only reservation is that many paintballers (such as my nephew) are pretty young and some of the harsh language is bound to upset parents watching it along with their teens. However, I should point out that MOST of the ‘participaints’ in the film are adults—and many are even older than me (if that’s possible!).
By the way, my favorite part was one of the organizers telling everyone that this should be like a vacation…not a job! In other words, have fun but it’s NOT the actual Battle of Normandy! I also liked seeing the chubby bowler dancing after he got a strike—so it looks like there is hope for me to learn to dance as well, as he looked about my age and weight!
**Soldiers of Paint—A+ for the paintballers, B+ for those not particularly into the sport
Review by Lead Entertainment Writer & Film Critic, Martin Hafer