Dewayne Convirs is a bit of a special kinda guy for paintballers. He goes out of his way, once every year, to recreate D-Day. Dewayne, and numerous volunteers, work hard on recreating the environments encountered by soldiers, and the main battle sites. It's then up to thousands of paintballers, some playing as Allies and some playing as Germans, to battle it out. It's almost a historical re-enactment. With paintball. And the chance that Germany could win this time.
Directors Doug Gritzmacher and Michael DeChant have found something great here, and presented it in the best way possible to viewing audiences. While it's ultimately a disposable piece of entertainment, Soldiers Of Paint is also very hard to dislike.
The usual mix of quirky characters stand alongside Convirs in this fake war, ranging from some men who take great pleasure in their ability to intercept the conference calls of the opposing side, to a father and son who always look forward to their annual bonding experience. In fact, although the battle itself only happens for one day, some people spend a LOT of time preparing for it. It IS war, after all.
Thousands of paintballers gathering once a year to try re-enacting D-Day is, of course, something that could reek of bad taste. By plunging you into the intensity of the battle for the first couple of minutes and then stepping back to meet some of the people involved and show the preparations, Gritzmacher and DeChant ensure that the whole thing is shown for what it is, something that allows people to acknowledge those brave soldiers who endured that hellish day, while also letting them have some fun. If that doesn't sound possible, all I ask is that you watch the documentary to see if you agree or disagree with me.
Yes, there are some early scenes that provide some chuckles, but another surprise is just how viewers don't end up pointing and laughing at the people onscreen. They have a hobby that they're passionate about, and for some people it's quite an all-consuming passion, but when you see how friendly and inclusive the paintball camp is you start to want to be able to join in. Oh, there's an element of machismo and ego, especially with the officers relaying orders from the safety of their control room/tent, but everyone (man, woman, child) is there to enjoy themselves in the peacetime surrounding the big skirmish.
As for the battle itself. It makes up about half of the documentary and really does feel quite intense and physically demanding, due to the heat and sheer numbers of potential enemies. I'm not going to say that it really gets any of the participants close to feeling just like those who were fighting in 1944, but it certainly feels like more than just a game.
Unexpectedly intense, sweet and enjoyable, Soldiers Of Paint isn't necessarily anything that you'll find yourself revisiting, but it's certainly worth a watch.
So I put together a book, yes I did.
The UK version can be bought here - http://www.amazon.co.uk/TJs-Ramshackle-Movie-Guide-Reviews-ebook/dp/B00J9PLT6Q/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1395945647&sr=1-3&keywords=movie+guide
And American folks can buy it here - http://www.amazon.com/TJs-Ramshackle-Movie-Guide-Reviews-ebook/dp/B00J9PLT6Q/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395945752&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=TJs+ramshackle+mov
As much as I love the rest of the world, I can't keep up with all of the different links in different territories, but trust me when I say that it should be there on your local Amazon.