Friday, September 27, 2013

Iron Sky Movie Review

If memory serves me right, I saw the trailer for Iron Sky (2012) on a few months before it's actual release. It looked hilarious and fun and I put it on my movie list right away. That was the last I heard about it until it appeared on NetFlix Instant Play some time later. At first I couldn't figure out how I'd missed what I thought would be a blockbuster of some sort, but it turns out that it was a Finnish-German-Australian foreign film and hadn't had a very wide release in the US. No wonder I missed it.
In the last moments of World War II, a secret Nazi space program evaded destruction by fleeing to the Dark Side of the Moon. During seventy years of utter secrecy, the Nazis construct a gigantic space fortress with a massive armada of flying saucers. When American astronaut James Washington (Christopher Kirby) puts down his Lunar Lander a bit too close to the secret Nazi base, the Moon Führer Wolfgang Kortzfleisch (Udo Kier) decides the glorious moment of retaking the Earth has arrived sooner than expected. Two Nazi officers, ruthless Klaus Adler (Götz Otto) and idealistic Renate Richter (Julia Dietze), travel to Earth to prepare the invasion and meet with the United States President (Stephanie Paul). As the Nazis ready the Earth for invasion, the Moon Nazi UFO armada darkens the skies ready to strike at the unprepared Earth.
Iron Sky was much more bizarre than I expected. I wanted to see a silly action movie with a ridiculous and funny set of villains. While invading Moon Nazis are certainly silly enough to make even the nations they are targeting laugh, the humor was fairly intelligently written and well executed. There are three things that stood out most to me about Iron Sky; the references to other movies, the CGI effects, and the political mocking of the US.
Iron Sky referenced several other Nazi films and some sci-fi films. 2001: A Space Odyssey and Independence Day come to mind. There is a scene where The President's assistant yells at her subordinates in nearly a shot-for-shot reference to the scene in Downfall that became a hugely popular online meme involving a re-dub of Hitler ranting at his key officers. There's also a reference to Dr. Strangelove where James Washington is wheeled out in a wheelchair and tries to keep himself from saluting the Führer. Some of the movies referenced are foreign films making the reference and humor the scene is striving for may be lost on some American viewers who haven't seen them.
While I do enjoy foreign films, I haven't come across many that had particularly good CGI effects. Even though I loved Pan's Labyrinth, some of the CGI was subpar. The space battles in Iron Sky were impressive. The space ships were detailed and looked great. Scenes on the moon involved a lot of green screen with CGI rendered backgrounds. The camera work intentionally tried to captivate the old filming style that was used in during World War II. While you could endlessly argue about the physics behind several scenes, it's the detail of the scenes that makes them pretty solid. Just forget the physics and enjoy the fun action sequences!
Iron Sky is a sci-fi political comedy. How often to do see that genre mash up? Interesting were the numerous political jokes about The United States from the perspective of other countries. It's not just making fun of republicans or democrats; it's making fun of American politics on the whole. The unnamed President of the United States is an amalgamation of several US political figures. She has the Texas drawl of President W. Bush, the campaign slogan and posters of President Obama, the appearance and ditzy mannerisms of Governor Sara Palin, along with several negative American stereotypes. Of course Madam President is thrilled by the Moon Nazi invasion because "Presidents who start wars always get reelected. I thought I was going to have to bomb Australia or something." The movie overtly suggests that Americans have been guilty of the Nazi-like notion of taking over other countries by force for the sake of making said countries better. I didn't particularly like that suggestion, but I honestly can't think of a good argument against it. Iron Sky takes many jabs at American politics, but does so with witty and intelligent humor.
Iron Sky is full of some good and bad qualities. The story was full of holes, but it doesn't take itself so seriously that it's a problem; the acting was pretty bad in some parts, but the depiction of the Nazis is admirable; a good portion of the script was unimpressive, but it had some fairly intelligent humor and satire incorporated into it; the ending was pretty weak, but still remained fun. The humor is pretty dark at times, but still funny. I'd compare the humor style to that of  Dr. Strangelove. The concept is great, the movie is just okay, and the humor pretty good. There's a notable amount of profanity and F-bombs which I didn't appreciate, it seemed to be there only to earn a higher movie rating. If you can ignore the profanity, it's a great political satire that is worth seeing, but not quite good enough to own a copy for multiple viewings unless you really get a kick out of the idea of Moon Nazis.

Here's the trailer for Iron Sky. Don't tell me that doesn't look at least a little bit fun.

What's your favorite fictional group of Nazis? Space Nazis? Zombie Nazis? HYDRA from Captain America?  I've seen a couple different rendition of the go-to villain organization. Which one is your favorite? Comment below and tell me why!

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