Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Film Review | Iron Sky (2012)

Whether you're willing to admit it, a film about an invasion of Earth by Nazis from the Moon has, at the very least, curiosity value. Unfortunately for Iron Sky, that's where the attraction begins and ends.

2018: two American astronauts stumble across a secret Nazi base on the dark side of the Moon, triggering a series of events which leads to an invasion of Earth by the lunar-based fascists.

Iron Sky feels incredibly confused, to the point of almost complete failure. It's a comedy with too few jokes, and even fewer funny ones. The makers of the film also can't make up their minds as to who their target is. Is it the Nazis, who are never lampooned enough to really make them feel like the butt of many jokes (an undoubtedly dangerous moral position to be in)? Or is it Sarah Palin as the US President - never actually named, but there's nobody else the makers of the film could argue the character is meant to be - hamfistedly satirised more and more brutally as the film wears on? At one point, the two sides even become alarmingly comfortable bedfellows. When we finally get to the film's climactic USA vs Nazis battle, it's actually difficult to know who the film wants us to root for, so severely unappealing are both factions.

The plot is ludicrous and nonsensical, and not in a "so bad it's good" sort of way either. I realise that Iron Sky is not meant to reflect the real world, but the world in which the film takes place needs to make sense all the same. Any hope of that is gone before the first act is over. These Nazis fled to the Moon at the end of the Second World War, meaning that Nazi Germany was around fifteen years ahead of the rest of the world in terms of space travel technology. And yet the whole reason behind the Nazis returning to Earth is to collect smartphones and other hi-tech devices needed to power a war machine as their technology is not yet advanced enough. We see them flying spaceships, and yet their idea of a cutting-edge computer fills an entire room. The lack of logic is contradictory to the point of being insulting. You don't approach a film such as this looking for scientific integrity, but the ideas and plot devices passed off here are just downright lazy.

The film's biggest failing is that, without a robust plot or any successful humour, the offensive nature of a lot of what is on display here becomes all the more apparent. Cinematic history offers up a wealth of films which have effectively subverted contentious and inflammatory issues through sharp, well-written humour. Iron Sky is definitely not one of them, thereby stripping it of its comedy lifejacket and laying the film bare as the insensitive and tasteless failure that it is.

There are two small reasons Iron Sky has managed to avoid the lowest score possible: firstly, the action sequences are not awful considering this is not a mainstream offering; secondly, director Timo Vuorensola has the courage to make significant parts of this a foreign language affair, with the Nazi characters regularly speaking to each other in German with subtitles, clawing back a minuscule trace of credibility. In the end though, had Iron Sky had any sort of comedy brains behind it, it could have been a watchable and amusing modern take on B-movie exploitation tropes. What we have instead feels like a half-baked comedy sketch stretched out to the point of implosion, leaving us with a sloppy, unfunny and ugly excuse for a film.


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