Saturday, October 20, 2012

Iron Sky

I really did have high hopes for "Iron Sky".  That is the primary reason why I'm wasting my time writing and your time reading with this review.  For most people, the words "Iron Sky" mean nothing, since its a Finnish/German independent movie that has received virtually no marketing amongst mainstream circles.  So then I have to explain that this is the "Nazis on the Moon movie".  And then half of the people reading will call it the dumbest thing they've ever heard and move on with their daily Internet adventure.  The remaining half will keep on reading out of morbid, ironic, or possibly totalitarian interests.  Then I have the terrible job to tell the world that "Iron Sky" isn't very good.

It all began well enough, with plenty of promise, especially considering the utterly insane but beautiful film concept.  Nazis on the Moon?  Plotting to invade the Earth?  In Flying Saucers?  With Udo Kier as the Space Furher??  I'm there!  I could write around five thousand words attempting to analyze why this is the greatest idea for a movie ever imagined, but ultimately all of that argumentation would pale in comparison to the raw energy generated by the phrase:  NAZIS ON THE MOON.  Discussion over.  Its the best idea I've heard for a movie since "Nazis at the Center of the Earth"*, which was an excellently silly but thoroughly solid B-movie.  It had exactly the perfect mix of cheesy effects, bad acting, but a level of earnest acceptance of its own insane premise.  Also the movie was nicely lean, got in and out, gave a few laughs, but for a super cheap Z-movie, it was everything you could have wanted.  However, "Iron Sky" leaves far more to be desired, sadly wasting its premise to instead make a profoundly unfunny comedy.

That's not to say that "Iron Sky" does not have its moments.  When the final battle does actually occur, its absolutely wonderful, a massive space battle between Earth and the Nazi hoard.  Unfortunately, this comes roughly an hour too late, when the first hour of the movie is spent making race jokes, setting up Sarah Palin as President of the United States, and bad satire on the Bush-era that's easily three years no longer relevant.  There is something of a charming air of endless absurdity to the entire affair, but unfortunately "Iron Sky" simply cannot defeat its Asylum Productions rival.  "Nazis at the Center of the Earth" had a Robo-Hitler and zombies, "Iron Sky" instead has... a Black guy being given White skin.  The goal here was to create a new cult film, to appeal to us cult B-movie fans, and instead "Iron Sky" simply does not succeed.  It wanted to be fun and silly and over-the-top, tried way too far to be entertaining, and so ended up shockingly boring.

First of all, "Iron Sky" is really well-shot, and really well-made with surprisingly decent special effects for having more or less no budget.  CG has revolutionized filmmaking to the point that now anybody at all can make a visually-compelling space epic.  That's the positive part of this review, the rest is all negative.

The basic plot of "Iron Sky" is as often unintentionally profound as it is intentionally stupid.  The initial idea that the Third Reich survived on the Moon to prepare for a "Lunar Blitzkrieg" is of course, completely impossible, but "Iron Sky" isn't trying to have any of that make sense, so ignore it.  The plot begins when two astronauts land on the Moon and are immediately captured by the Moon Nazis and brought back to the Moon Base.  But, my heart began to sink considerably when one of the astronauts turns out to be a Black guy, whose main job is act like the lost Wayan Brother.  However, he also has a smart phone in his pocket.  After sixty years on the Moon, Nazi technology has managed to build a space armada, but has lagged behind deeply compared to Earth when it comes to computers.  So this one iPhone is enough to power up the Nazi superweapon, but only for a brief moment.  The Nazis need to land briefly on Earth and plunder our common personal computer devices in order finally gain the power they need to launch the invasion to "liberate" our planet.  I mean, that's actually a brilliant perspective on the different kinds of technology levels that could arise from this kind of space colonization, and refers back to one of my favorite SciFi ideas.  Then its all wasted when the movie instead decides to focus on how the Black Guy got his skin bleached.  There's a rather clever strategy of attacking the Earth by dropping asteroids from orbit, thus using the Nazi space position to its maximum effectiveness.  However, the Nazis also basically slaughter themselves by attacking with flying saucers, which as it turns out, are worthless against modern aerial fighters.

Yeah, the Nazi mad scientist dude decide it was best to "Aryanize" the new visitor to the Moon.  This way when the small squad of Nazi visitors come to Earth, we can watch the Black Guy almost get into a fight with gangbangers.  Because that's... actually not a funny bit at all and its really out of space in a movie about NAZIS.  I mean, if we want to talk about the Nazi race issues, why didn't they have a Jewish astronaut?  The Nazis hated Africans as much as anybody else who weren't "Nordic".  It at all feels like cheap filler, thrown in because... the director knew a lot of Black jokes?  But this is really only the beginning of how bad the comedic tone is here.

At one point we have President Sarah Palin lounging around the White House looking for a conflict in order to get herself reelected.  Yeah, Sarah Palin was a walking talking Republican farce, and was very funny - in 2008.  She's old news  now.  There are even jokes about the Bush Administration, which again, are four years too late.  Then there's her campaign adviser doing a shot for shot parody of "Downfall"'s scene of Adolf Hitler ranting at his oncoming military defeat.  You know the scene:  the one that has been parodied about six hundred gazillion trillion times on Youtube from everything from the Giants winning the Superbowl to "Final Fantasy XIII-3".  Yeah, that stopped being funny about two years ago.  There's a weird time wasting interlude where the deputy Fuhrer Adler and his pretty blond wife - for no particular reason - decide to become Sarah Palin's speech writers.  The pretty blond chick is probably the most likable character in the movie, but most of her story is about learning that the Nazis were hateful and warmongers - somehow she thought they were all Flower Children and spreaders of Love.  That isn't really funny either.  Udo Kier is wasted entirely as the Nazi Leader, instead he bumbles around insisting that people say "Heil Kortzfleisch" instead of "Heil Hitler".  Then he coughs whenever somebody says the word "Hitler".  That's not really funny either, and its made worse since Udo Kier is a legitimately chilling actor who could have made this movie far more compelling if it actually focused on the Nazi Invasion thing.

There is really only one moment in this whole movie that managed to get me to laugh.  When the Nazis do invade the Earth, the UN have a meeting where all the world leaders seem to mostly sit around and yell at each other.  Then North Korea attempts to take credit for the attack... and is laughed out of the meeting.  That was good, none of this other crap is.

I think "Iron Sky" wanted to not only be a SciFi B-movie but also "Doctor Strangelove", and I just wound up feeling embarrassed for the movie.  The movie features long scenes of world leaders butting heads together, all revealing that they all had a secret air fleet.  But "Doctor Strangelove" actually was able to perfectly pinpoint the absurdity of Cold War nuclear strategy and how ridiculous Mutually Assured Destruction was.  "Iron Sky" manages to parrot the older movie using Sarah Palin almost beat for beat, even ending with the entire Earth being nuked to destruction to the sounds of cheery music.  It isn't the Nazis nuking anybody, its instead the world fighting US supremacy, and mostly caused by Sarah Palin's bumbling.  I can't tell you why the Earth needed to be destroyed in "Iron Sky", I don't know what it has to do with Nazis.  The political satire is all stuck in another decade, so its not only irrelevant, but also vapid and massively outdated.  Please, if we must make a B-movie, let's try to be Roger Corman, not Stanley Kubrick.

I'm not asking that my Nazis on the Moon movie try to be a serious drama, this doesn't have to be "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter"* but with Space Fascists.  However, I would like for the movie to actually focus on why I rented it:  the Nazis.  An hour passes before the Nazis finally begin their attack, and this does lead to the best scene of the movie:  where Space Zeppelins fight a battle against a bizarre circus of retrofitted modern space ships turned into weapons at the very last minute.  Its the lowest tech space battle ever in the history of film, compared to "Star Wars", these ships are made out of tape and glue.  And it is quite a visual sight, which gets right to the very point of why a Nazi-spoitation movie like is entertaining and awesome.  If only we could focus on that.

So eventually, I got bored.  And my main focus was to try to will the blond's cloths off.  Unfortunately, couldn't quite get that out of "Iron Sky", I didn't get anything I wanted out of this movie.  If you need a Nazi movie, watch "Nazis at the Center of the Earth".  If you want a more serious Nazi drama, watch "Downfall".  And if you want a more-modern and entertaining political satire, watch "Canadian Bacon".  There's really no reason at all to watch "Iron Sky".

2012 is going to go down in history as the year that Earth was invaded by Nazis from increasingly absurd locations.  Unfortunately, now that we've gone to outer space, the SciFi Nazi invasion genre has really blown its wad.  After space, where can you go from there?  We skipped right over "SS in the Marianas Trench", "Volcano Werhmacht", and "Luftwaffe From the Year 20,000".  I guess we could have "Nazis on Mars", but that's only delaying the inevitable.  I'm afraid that this strange micro-fad of recasting history's greatest monsters as goofy villains in ironic SciFi B-movies has run its logical course.

* Its almost November and that still is the worst movie of the year as far as I'm concerned.


  1. So are you going to do a recap of Inuyasha: The Final Act?

  2. I'm sad that this movie didn't turn out to be awesome in a crappy B-movie kind of way, I'm still going to hold out for a good Nazi vs. Moses time travel movie

  3. "The goal here was to create a new cult film, to appeal to us cult B-movie fans,"

    That is your problem right there. Saying what the goal was for people you don't know. Telling this film what it should be and marching into the theatre with your head filled up with dreams of how "awesome in a B-movie way" (your own personal take of this, that is) it will be. Is it a wonder you were disappointed? You, yourself, made it impossible for the filmmakers to succeed - to succeed in your head.

    The fact is, the makers of Iron Sky made the impossible happen: a real comedic B-movie about Moon Nazis, with a worldwide distribution on DVD and Bluray at least. The most expensive film ever made in their native country - and this starting with virtually no money or expertise in making real commercial films in about 2005.

    So, when are you going to make your own 10 million dollar film? You seem to know just what it needs to be like and you have pretty much the same chances of making it as the guys behind Iron Sky had back in the day.

    Go at it, man.

    1. I'm always glad to see people challenge me here at this blog, I love differing opinions. So thanks for that. I really do wish more of my readers would challenge me. Also I wish I had more readers. >_<

      Now, I already praised them for their production values and the massive amount of success the filmmakers had creating a very well-made film with believable special effects. And its especially impressive on almost no money. I'll probably never make a movie in my entire life, I accept this, and even if I did make a movie, it wouldn't have half the production values of "Iron Sky".

      However, it just wasn't funny. Maybe you found it funny, I didn't. I think I explained very clearly what I wanted out of this movie, and I gave a perfect example of an even cheaper and more obscure movie that actually did the Nazi SciFi thing perfectly: "Nazis at the Center of the Earth". There is plenty to work with when you have a concept like Moon Nazis, you don't need Sarah Palin, you don't need jokes about African Americans, and you sure as Hell don't need to waste Udo Kier.

      Hey, if somebody were willing to give me ten million dollars to make a movie, I'd sure go ahead and try my best... unfortunately it would suck badly, probably worse than Iron Sky. However, I'd like to think its heart would be in the right place.

      (By the way, my movie would be a SciFi Fantasy Western taking place on another planet. With wizards.)