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Iron Sky (2012)
Blu-ray Disc Released: 10/2/2012
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/9/2012
Longtime fans of Saturday Night Live know what it's like to experience one of their "one joke skits". These are the segments where the "the catch" (the primary joke) is revealed 30 seconds to 1 minute into the skit. However, the skit then runs for another 3-5 minutes. We can appreciate the humor in these skits at times, especially when the joke is a clever one, but it can also be torture to sit through something which has already played all of its cards -- this is when we reach for the fast-forward button on the remote. (The Simpsons did a joke about this years ago with Krusty the Clown.) Now imagine something like this stretched out to 90 minutes and you'll get an idea of what Iron Sky is like. This is a one-note movie which doesn't know when to quite.
Iron Sky is set in the year 2018 and opens with an American lunar module landing on the moon. Astronaut James Washington (Christopher Kirby) has just begun to explore when his ship is destroyed and he's captured by Nazis. Yes, the Nazis have a secret base on the dark side of the moon and they've lived there since 1945. Washington is taken before Fuhrer Kortzfleisch (Udo Kier), who assumes that the man is a scouting party for an invasion from Earth. Klaus Adler (Gotz Otto) suggests that Washington be tortured, but Renate Richter (Julia Dietze) wants to study the man. She teaches Earthy history (the Nazi version) and she's never seen a black man before. In order to reduce the amount of torture, Washington states he knows the President of the United States. Adler insists that Washington arrange a meeting, but not before Nazi scientists attempt to make his skin Caucasian. Adler, Renate, and Washington go to Earth, where Adler is eventually able to meet the President (Stephanie Paul), who sees the Nazis as a way to boost herself in the polls. Adler seeks this as an opportunity for war and orders a full scale invasion of Earth.
Sometimes you read a description of a movie and say to yourself, “That’s not real.” You were probably thinking that when you read the above synopsis. I know that I did when I first learned of Iron Sky. But, I can assure you, this movie is real and it really is about Nazis from The Third Reich (who now call themselves “The Fourth Reich”) living on the moon. If you think that sounds weird, you are exactly right. It is weird. This may be one of the weirdest movies that I’ve ever seen, based solely on the premise. (Which the filmmakers mention is an urban legend. That must be a European thing, because I’ve never heard of it.)
So, Iron Sky must be a hoot, right? Well, it’s not and that makes the movie even weirder. Once that bizarre premise is established in the first scene of the film, in which Washington is attacked by Nazi stormtroopers on the moon, the movie has no more clever ideas. The remainder of the story is pretty straight-forward -- Washington is capture and interrogated, a group of Nazis go to Earth and infiltrate the government, war breaks out, the end. Take out the outer space components and you’ve got a fairly straight-forward spy story. Given the audacious central premise, one would expect Iron Sky to be pretty wild, but it’s not. The movie is supposed to be a comedy, but it’s never funny. The President of the United States is a Sarah Palin look-alike. Is that funny? It’s certainly dated. There are jabs at U.S. foreign policy and the U.N., but the jokes are rarely biting and there nothing we haven’t heard elsewhere. In fact, the movie is pretty conservative, as there’s no gratuitous violence, gore, sex, or nudity.
In fact, the only shocking thing about Iron Sky is its scale. As the movie is about moon Nazis, something which sounds like it would be in a Mystery Science Theater 3000 movie, one would expect a hackneyed, low-budget affair. However, Iron Sky is a huge movie which cost about $15 million to make. It has a large cast, most of which are wearing elaborate costumes, and there are wall-to-wall visual effects. From the opening moon landing to the Nazi base to the final battle, the movie never looks cheap. That final battle contains dozens of CGI spaceships and looks like Independence Day.
The Blu-ray Disc box for Iron Sky proclaims it to be a “Worldwide Box Office Phenomenon”. I don’t know if there’s any truth in that, but I can tell you that this is a lame movie which desperately wants to be a cult film, but doesn’t know the first thing about being entertaining or shocking. The story is full of holes (the fact that the Nazis live on the moon doesn’t automatically mean that they would develop flying saucer technology), the movie is never funny, and the pacing is awful. (I kept checking the time and couldn’t believe how much of the movie was left.) Don’t be fooled by the interesting premise, Iron Sky is all idea and no plot.
Iron Sky didn’t make me want to seek out any more comedies from Finnish filmmakers on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Entertainment One. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no notable grain or defects from the source materials. The image has a nice crispness to it and this lends it a noticeable amount of depth. The level of detail is very good as well. The colors look good, most notably reds. The movie has some dark scenes, but the image is never overly dark. The Disc contains a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Despite a somewhat lower than average bitrate, this is an active track. Just check out the scene where Adler and Renate meet the President. The subwoofer here is palpable and the music fills the room. The surround sound and stereo effects are very active during the space battle sequences and there are some nicely placed effects in the rear channels. These are detailed, allowing us to pick out individual sounds.
The Iron Sky Blu-ray Disc contains a selection of extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Timo Vuorensola and Producer Samuli Torssonen. "Making-of-Featurette" (17 minutes) begins with the creative team talking about their previous effort and how this lead to the conception and creation of Iron Sky. From there, the piece goes on-set and on-location to show how some of the key scenes were shot. The piece then looks at the green screen work and the creation of the visual effects. "Behind the Scenes" (18 minutes) contains 18 brief segments which show the film in production. These are simply "fly on the wall" videos which show the actors and crew at work. We get the THEATRICAL TRAILER and three TEASERS.
Review Copyright 2012 by Mike Long