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Paradox Soldiers (2010)
Directors: Oleg Pogodin and Dmitri Voronkov

review by Jim Steel

Rating movies can be a funny thing. You can be sitting quite happily watching something that you'd say could score five out of ten when it suddenly throws something at you that makes you physically squirm with embarrassment. Paradox Soldiers (aka: My iz budushchego 2), it is fair to say, is a very uneven film.

Paradox Soldiers was originally known as 'We Are From The Future 2' when it was first released in Russia, a title that doesn't exactly bounce after translation. It's a sequel to a 2008 film from another director that has yet to be released in the UK; possibly not an oversight on the part of Metrodome since, by all accounts, the first film is even worse than this one. In the first film, four men from present-day Russia were flung back in time to 1942 and the 'eastern front'. Clumsy flashbacks reveal that one of them, Sergey (Igor Petrenko), fell in love with a Russian soldier, Nina (the extremely wooden Ekaterina Klimova), who was tragically killed, and then they were returned to our time. The time travel is caused a mysterious phenomenon that is never explained.

This film is set in 2009 and carries on with the story of two of the first four. They track down a (badly photo-shopped) photograph of Nina which proves that she didn't die in the first film. Coincidently, they also happen to be heading to the Ukraine with a bunch of Muscovite students to take part in a re-enactment of the second Battle of Brody. The Muscovites are playing the Soviet forces and the Ukrainians are happily playing the Wermacht forces. The Germans were trying to liberate the Ukraine from the Soviets, y'see.

The Ukrainians, dressed in German uniforms, are portrayed as somewhat naive and are happily waving swastika flags around when our team of Muscovite students arrive. There is antagonism between the two groups that erupts at an on-site metal concert that evening. The next day two of the Ukrainians are flung back in time to 1944 with our two heroes from the previous film. They are all dressed in the respective uniforms of the two armies and are immediately captured by pro-Nazi partisans.

The two Muscovites narrowly escape being shot and all four of them escape, only to be captured by the hard-but-fair Stalinist army. Bizarrely, Taras (Aleksei Barabash), the blond Ukrainian bully in the SS uniform, isn't shot on sight, and they all learn that their only chance of escaping back to their own time is to work together. The two Ukrainians in particular, hardened by the forge of war, become better men for it, although I'm not at all sure that this was a common occurrence with real-life Nazi sympathisers on the eastern front. They bump into Nina, of course, but it gets complicated as her life has moved on and she is now married.

There are problems with this film. The whole re-enactment business, for a start, rubs the wrong way. Generally, people who take part in re-enactments know their history and are rarely in the position of being able to claim that they are ignorant of the original historical positions. Anyone who is happy to dress in SS uniform and eulogise the 'good aspects' of those forces therefore has to be a deeply suspicious character. America, apparently, has similar issues with many Confederate re-enactors; before you know it, they are banging on about state rights. The time travel aspect is treated a very perfunctory manner and, despite the title, there is little prospect of a paradox. It's an emotionally unbalanced film as well.

The plentiful battle scenes are reasonably well handled, despite the presence of some of the least accurate German armour to ever appear on the big screen, but the moment that Nina appears the cinematography nose-dives. Soft focus slow-motion and flowers overpower the film - and this on the front line of a war zone. It's as if the directors had never had any direct experience of romance but, having vaguely heard of it, decided that it was necessary to utilise it in their film. And the soundtrack during those scenes is Eurovision goo. However, the soundtrack becomes even more annoying during the action scenes when it mostly consists of standard east European vocal rock tracks which are painful to hear.

There are a couple of trailers for other Metrodome releases but that's it as far as DVD extras go. The dialogue is subtitled but the credits are left, un-translated, in the Cyrillic alphabet.

Paradox Soldiers



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