It's the anniversary of D-Day in Canada, too. “Storming Juno” is a Canadian war movie about the Canadian army storming Juno beach on D-Day. It was directed by Tim Wolochatiuk on a shoe string. It follows three soldiers: a paratrooper, an infantryman, and a tanker. The movie has a docudrama feel to it, but there are no talking heads. It is “based on real characters and events.”
The movie leads with the paratrooper. He is part of the 1st Canadian Paratrooper Battalion. The film uses archival footage to coincide with his background information. His unit’s mission is to take out an artillery battery. The infantryman is in the first wave of the amphibious landing. “Juno was one of the most heavily fortified sectors of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall.” You won’t be able to tell that from this movie, however. He is not concerned with that since “given the naval bombardment, chances are nothing will be left.” That’s an accurate feeling of over-optimism. Juno is going to be a tough nut to crack considering that theirs is the only landing craft. The landing is far from “Saving Private Ryan”, but there is some slo-mo and hand-held. The deaths are random. One of the soldiers fires a mortar by holding it against a tree and firing it like a bazooka! Now, here comes the tank. The effects are decidedly cheesy. It duels with a bunker. The tank is alone and without infantry support. The tactics in the movie are shaky. There are several head-scratching moments in the movie. Twice characters enter enemy positions alone, for instance.
The movie’s makers had a legitimate reason for wanting to recognize the Canadian effort on D-Day. How many people outside Canada even know that they were part of the invasion? And Canadians deserved a movie highlighting their heroism. After all, what else do they have? The movie accomplishes its mission in a low budget way. It is not overly patriotic. As a teacher, I can vouch for the fact that its intended audience prefers reenactments to historians talking about the historical event. The problem is the cheesiness of the production. Although the CGI is acceptable, the story it backs is low rent. The decision to follow three character arcs was a good one, but there is little character development. Their voices sound similar so the narration can be confusing. When they are speaking in character, the banter is lame. There is no cursing. But maybe that’s because Canadians don’t curse. The actors are amateurish, but not embarrassing. They get lots of closeups. The movie is very macro. You may learn about Juno Beach, but you will not get the impression that it was arduous. It was a beautiful day and so quiet. The movie does do a decent job on deaths. They are not too theatrical and although not graphic, the wounds are realistic. That is very unusual for a movie like this, so kudos.
“Storming Juno” is a sincere effort and should be seen by Canadians. It has a following and I have to assume they are all Canadians because the movie is nothing special. Actually, the documentary after the film entitled “Remembering Juno” is better than the movie. It makes me wonder why they didn’t reenact the real stories? One of the veterans talks about killing prisoners and another describes targeting a church steeple where a sniper was. This latter would have been an improvement over the clicheish sniper incident depicted in the movie.
I recommend “Storming Juno”, but only if you stick around for the documentary. Or if you are a Canadian.
You can go here if you want to see my list of other D-Day movies.
GRADE = C