Another Russia-Georgia War Movie, Now with Robot Transformers
The magic dust was stolen (oh, horror!) by the dark lord Mrakovlast. Who will bring the dust -- and the hope -- back to the people? This sounds like a job for the brave little superhero Cosmoboy, and his goofy, hulking robot friend, but, first, they must do battle with Mrakovlast, a monster from hell and a car junkyard.
You guessed it right. This is an opening scene from "August 8," the latest in the apparently never-ending Georgian-Russian face-off of films inspired by the 2008 Russia-Georgia War.
The Russian-made "August 8" does not boast big names like Andy Garcia and Val Kilmer, as was the case in the Georgian-sponsored, Hollywood-made "Five Days of August," but it does come with shape-shifting evil machines and explosions.
It may not seem easy to work robot transformers into a story about a war with critical geo-strategic consequences that forced thousands of ethnic Georgians out of their homes in the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, but not when Russian film director Dzhanik Faziyev gets his creative juices flowing. The fantasy robot world is a figment of imagination of the film’s little protagonist, Artyem (Cosmoboy), who is caught in the Georgian-Russian crossfire.
Watching the movie leaves the impression that Faziyev really wanted to do a Russian version of the Transformers series, but chose to throw South Ossetia into it to get Russian state funding.
Much like previous August war opuses, whether Georgia or Russian-made, "August 8" is ridiculously propagandistic and cynically out-of-touch. But it is so wonderfully bizarre, so laden with cinematic platitudes and tacky moments that it almost provides for silly entertainment.
And depicts one sad reality -- how the once wonderfully self-contained and sophisticated Russian cinema industry has been besmirched by Hollywood potboiler antics. The clichéd representations of Caucasus peoples, and stiff, amateurish acting do little to detract from that impression.
Perhaps in the most painfully tasteless moment, a Georgian soldier, in a sudden fit of kindness, chooses to save the film's two heroes, Artyem and his blonde mother, Ksenya. (Message to Russian audiences, Georgians can sometimes be humans, too). “Oh God, why did you let this war happen?” says the Georgian soldier theatrically as he hands over the wounded Russian child to his tearful Russian mother.
Why God allowed this movie or any of the other 2008-war feature films to happen would also be a good question to ask.