I was one of those who fell for the hype, and decided to catch Iron Sky on the single day of its UK release. I had heard a little about it beforehand, but not a great deal, so I came to it fairly fresh at a packed QFT on Wednesday.
An unexpected film. Unexpectedly offensive in many places, unexpectedly sad in others. Since one of my main criticisms against South Park is that I dislike it because they just want to offend people, the same criticism has to apply here – this is not a film that portrays America in a positive light. It could be argued that politicians and spin doctors are the same everywhere, and that it’s not specifically about American politics and could apply anywhere, but America is the target that they selected, and they hit it fairly hard. But, aside from that, the film has many laugh out loud moments of both subtle and unsubtle humour and an ending that goes from beautiful to unbearably sad in about 2 seconds. Is it worth seeing? I’m honestly not sure I can answer that. I was glad that I saw it, and I laughed at many parts of it, but I’m not quite sure I’m proud of myself for doing so.
The audience in the QFT was in no doubt what they thought of the film, much laughter, and a round of applause at the end. But one friend hated it, saying the acting and plot where both terrible, while my other companion’s thoughts can be read here (I haven’t read that yet, so I don’t know how our reviews compare).
And if you don’t want to know more, look away now!
Review with Spoilers:
The film opens beautifully, with America’s return to the moon, and the unexpected discovery of the moon nazis. The special effects go from excellent to cheesy real quick, and it’s fair to say that there’s no real feeling of a lack of gravity on the moon. I guess that’s hard for actors to do without making complete prats of themselves though, so we’ll let that pass. Personally, I found the “albinisation” to be appalling – it is much too close to actual nazi science, and it’s the first thing I would remove from the film. I guess I’m just squeamish – I don’t want these moon nazis to remind me of actual nazis – I just want comedy villains. But this part of the film also contains one of my favourite moments, some quite subtle humour, when Renate teaches her class about the Great Dictator, the “10 minute film” that Chaplin made “in praise of Hitler” – a beautiful bit of spin doctoring! Which reminds me that I ought to see that film someday. I’m sure it’s much better than this one. But I digress…
Once we return to earth, another fabulous moment, when the President starts using the nazi speeches as part of her election compaign. I enjoyed this savaging of the vapidity of modern politics, and there are great laugh out loud moments here. I note at IMDB that the president is never named, which makes it even more cheeky to make her so Palin-esque.
We then move into the war, and things I didn’t like again. When the meteor-blitzkreig begins, we see a huge mushroom cloud above a city, which is then never referred to. I dislike the meaninglessness of such an utterly destructive act; they just moved on to the next scene, as if nothing had happened. The inhumanity of it irks me. But I did like the nazi space-zeppelins, which were very cool.
I loved the point at which the peaceful space programs of the great nations are shown to all be armed to the teeth, and I thought the scene where the weapons unfurl from the Mars exploration vehicle was brilliant. The special effects are also very good here, for a cheap movie, as the forces of earth take on the nazi zeppelins and flying saucers (yes flying saucers! You can’t beat a classic!)
I loved that the nazi super-weapon was powered by an ipad – I thought that was a beautiful bit of irony. And of course it was as over-the top as all super-weapons are. I also liked the name, which was nicely Wagnerian, and very appropriate.
And then the ending. The fight in the UN was excellent. But it was the final scene that reduced our audience to silence, when that beautiful shot of earth hanging in space was unexpectedly marred by the trail of a missile looping up out of the atmosphere and down again to destroy a city, and then another, and then we see the lights go out all over the earth. An unexpectedly poignant ending, to know that as the nazis would have to rebuild on the moon after their destruction, so would the people of earth.
The choice of using actual German actors, and subtitling the German speech was kind of unexpected, and had me moving around to read the words I couldn’t see behind the head of the person in front of me. As I read above, it’s not a film I would wholeheartedly endorse or recommend, but I was glad I caught it, and thought it was just the sort of thing I should write a blog post about!