Movie-A-Day: Iron Sky (2012)

That movie revealing how even Scandinavians think we’re douchebags

Cast: Nobody famous except…Udo Kier? He was in Barb Wire; does that count?

Premise: In 2018, a colony of Nazis living on the Moon start a war with Earth. No, really.

Globalization is a beautiful thing. Here I am a black guy writing about a Scandinavian film to – mostly – a bunch of white Americans. Knock knock – who’s there? The future, my friends. Likewise, the Scandinavian creators of Iron Sky decided to take aim at not only the German Nazis (not exactly hard targets) but also America.

Iron Sky is one of the latest entries in what is almost a genre at this point: military satires. Iron Sky‘s Nazi antagonists infiltrate America not through clever espionage, but through their skill at propaganda as they become part of a presidential campaign.

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Connecting America to Nazis isn’t exactly a new idea, Apocalypse Now (1979) used the Nazi war song Ride of the Valkyries to equate America’s forces with the Third Reich. Starship Troopers (1997) also had not-so-subtle Nazi parallels by portraying America’s future government as only allowing military officers to breed. If one takes the movie as just a mockery of America’s military fetish, it’s competing with a Hollywood where G.I. fucking Joe is a film series. Sorry, Scandinavia, bur our films have already become self-parodies.

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In it’s defense, Iron Sky isn’t going for anything deep and instead borrows heavily from campy 90’s sci-fi. The score is a competent Danny Elfman imitation, who’s famous for working on Tim Burton’s Batman and Mars Attacks!. Appropriately, they seemed to specifically  take inspiration from Men in Black‘s “spacey” score. Visually, the film heavily emphasizes it’s large, incomprehensibly complex CG backdrops.

The Nazis’ base and war machines are full of countless gears and cogs that make the giant spider in Wild Wild West look plausible. None of the film’s backdrops endeavor to feel concrete. It’s as if a director from the Syfy channel got a mainstream film budget: the film’s aesthetic balances slickness with cheapness. Everything looks like a big, overdone Hollywood set, which works for the films irreverent tone.

Iron Sky’s cast is full of appropriately broad caricatures. The guy who discovers the Moon-Nazis is a smart-aleck black model turned astronaut who i’m pretty sure is supposed to be a Will Smith stand-in. For me, he’s the funniest guy in the movie since the actor is able to play up the “jiveness” without going into that annoying Chris Tucker territory.

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The President of the United States is a pretty obvious parody of Sarah Palin who’s obsessed with being the next Teddy Roosevelt. As with much of the film’s political commentaries, going for a Palin reference was a bit late in the game. She’s not even that much like Palin; the actress seems to doing more of a George W. Bush impression.

The protagonist of the film is one of the few “real” people, she’s a Nazi schoolteacher who’s chosen to be their spokeswoman. Despite this, her concept of what Nazis are is based in the more innocuous aspects of the party (propagation of German culture and values). Her character gives the film a bit of political depth since it implies that the Nazis’ cultural origins wasn’t inherently evil. As with the Americans (and every other country) in the film, war is the result of greedy world leaders and not normal citizens.

As a comedy, I found Iron Sky to have a great setup, but no real punchline. The beginning of the film embraced just how inappropriate you can be with Nazis. We get lots of racist humor when the Nazis’ meet the black-stronaut (“Do you realize you have a skin condition?”). It also pokes fun at the Nazis’ technological stasis; a doctor connects a discovered smartphone to a huge 40’s era computer and dubs it a “Universal System Binding – USB for short“. Despite such great setups, the film devolves into just a goofy war film in it’s final act. And since this isn’t a particularly original film, it’s action is about as stock as you can get. Once again, American films ALREADY have ridiculous action scenes, so you can’t really parody it. It doesn’t help that there’s barely any actual jokes in the final act, which instead has just more aimless set ups. Most egregiously, the black-stronaut is turned into an Aryan by Nazi scientists. Beyond one scene where some basketball players almost beat him up, this never comes up. You’d think that seeing a guy who looks like that would freak people out but not at all. Even having him feel compelled to act like a stereotypical German or white person could’ve been funny. This script really needed a “punch up” from a Scandinavian Joss Whedon in order to make the most use out of the setting’s inherent humor.

Overall, Iron Sky is an alright movie. With so many films with similar action and political themes, I don’t feel this film is very distinguished. However, I feel as if it’s premise still makes it worth a watch.

My Rating: One Nazi salute (from the REAL president)

Stray Thoughts

  • While I guess I can go with Nazis’ being able to space travel, they never establish how they keep getting air on the moon. I sense a Total Recall crossover.

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