April 19, 2013

IRON SKY, Because Moon Nazis!

"Remember me?  The moon spook you turned into a snow flake?"
I was getting ready for work this morning when I got an automated call from my office warning me that MBTA service had been suspended.  Moreover, Boston residents were advised to remain in their homes and only open the door for uniformed, identified law enforcement officers.  I immediately checked Twitter and turned on the local news to discover that, after photographs of the two Marathon bombing suspects were released by the FBI yesterday, the two young men shot and killed MIT police officer Sean Collier before stealing a car and fleeing to nearby Watertown.  There they engaged in a shootout with local authorities, firing assault weapons and tossing explosive devices (including another pressure cooker bomb) out into the streets.  Officers shot and killed one suspect, 26 year old Tamerlan Tsarnaev of Chechnya, and there's currently a massive manhunt underway to find the second suspect, Tamerlan's 19 year old brother Dzhokhar.  (Both have been living in Cambridge for a number of years and Dzhokhar became an American citizen last year on Septemeber 11th.)  The entire Boston area is on lockdown at the moment, so Jamie and I have been home watching TV nonstop since 8:30am.  It was going to be a pretty slow day at work, so I had planned to play some pretty serious catch up today.

So much for that idea.

It's been a few hours now and there haven't been many developments.  As the hours pass, it's starting to feel more and more like this thing might drag on through the weekend, which is a fairly daunting prospect.  Watching TV has never been so exhausting.  I've seen some friends start sharing funny videos and livestreams of kittens, looking for some kind of entertaining alternative to the insanity taking place on outside.  So if you're like me and you're starting to suffer from news footage fatigue, allow me to make a suggestion: Switch over to Netflix Instant and throw on Iron Sky.  If you're looking for something fun and maybe a bit silly, this fits the bill pretty perfectly.  Don't believe me?  I have four words for you:


Let me be clear: this is by no means a "good movie."  However, credit where credit is due: they really fucking go for it.  Remember when Snakes On A Plane was a thing?  The premise sounded so good that the internet went rightfully bonkers for it.  Unfortunately the movie itself was pretty disappointing.  In many ways it was reminiscent of a Syfy Original movie starring the likes of Debbie Gibson and Lou Diamond Phillips, something based entirely on a funny title with no actual filmmaking taking place.  But Iron Sky doesn't rest on the laurels of its hilarious premise, that of a group of Nazis who took refuge on the dark side of the moon and are planning an invasion of Earth despite knowing next to nothing about the last seventy years of humanity.  Yes, there's some very self aware humor, particularly everything having to do with black American astronaut James Washington, but it's also got something to say about political propaganda and American foreign policy.  But at the end of the day this thing knows on which side its bread is buttered; the Nazi death ship is powered by cell phones and the story culminates in a completely absurd international space battle.

The movie's tongue is planted firmly in its cheek, but director Timo Vourensola clearly isn't setting out to make a shitty movie.  All things considered, the effects work is actually pretty decent and while the dialogue often leaves something to be desired, the story moves along at a pretty good pace and escalates in a way that really does not disappoint.  Plus you have to be impressed at any movie that somehow manages to turn the Nazis into sympathetic heroes.  Unfortunately, the weakest link here is the cast.  The great Udo Kier, playing Hitler's lunar successor, is surrounded by a group of moderately talented unknowns, and while it's not enough to fully derail the movie, it's pretty hard to ignore.  Julia Dietze and Gotz Otto are serviceable as our lead Nazis and Stephanie Paul does a caricature of Sarah Palin that's on point but feels incredibly dated and ultimately goes nowhere.  The weakest links are definitely Christopher Kirby as astronaut Washington and Peta Sergeant as campaign spinmaster turned military general Vivian Wagner.  They get by far the broadest, most over the top material but tragically they lack the chops to really sell this stuff.  For example, Sergeant gets an incredible costume change in the last half hour, but the whole thing ends up falling pretty flat because she clearly has no idea what to do with herself.  It's a real shame.  With a proper cast and minimal tweaking, Iron Sky could have been something truly special.

In the end, all that really matters is that it's FUN.  It might not be a top notch film, but it's certainly not for lack of trying.  Plenty of movies fall short of their potential, but there are too many mainstream studio releases that just feel straight up lazy.  You have to give these guys points for putting in the effort to make the best Moon Nazi movie possible.  Everyone is working so damn hard that despite the film's obvious flaws, Iron Sky ends up being downright endearing and more than a little bit adorable.  So grab some friends, pour some drinks, and fire up the Netflix.

After a week like this, we could all use a few laughs.

Title: Iron Sky
Director: Timo Vourensola
Starring: Julia Dietze, Udo Kier, Christopher Kirby, Gotz Otto, Peta Sergeant, Stephanie Paul
Year Of Release: 2012
Viewing Method: Netflix Instant (TV)

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