Friday, 21 September 2012

30/08/2012: Iron Sky [2012]

When I first watched a trailer for a movie called Iron Sky in which the Nazis had hidden on the dark side of the moon sine 1945  I'm not sure what I thought. It was an intriguing concept, and the trailer had a lavish display of special effects, but I just added it to my watchlist and figured it would be just another sci-fi comedy B-movie I might one day get around to seeing. After watching it, I would say that Iron Sky is at the forefront of a new era in cinema, where original independent movies should be able to easily compete with and dominate any large budget Hollywood CGI fun-fests.

The Hollywood movies I am referring  to are movies likes Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Battleship, and John Carter. All of them are massive budget Hollywood sci-fi movies that came out over the couple years and no one is going to ever thing twice about them. Sure they had massive budgets that allowed for oodles of special effects and CGI, as well as ad campaigns that were probably equal to the budget of Iron Sky, but only one of them had anything close to a good story, and that is because it had a 95 year old sci-fi book to draw from. In it's mere 93 minutes, and €7.5 million budget Iron Sky packs in more entertainment, originality, laughs, and "big budget" CGI than those three movies combined.

It has come to the point where I no longer expect anything this fun and original to come out of Hollywood. I mean this year they actually tried to transfer a Milton Bradley board game into some kind of tangible movie. It is now up to independent productions to make movies with visuals to rival Hollywood and scripts that surpass them in every way. Amongst these has been a wave of European independent films which have all been extremely well done and have gained a lot of popularity for their originality. While Iron Sky is the newest, Finland and Norway have already blazed a trail with the cult success of Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale and Troll Hunter, both of which came out in 2010. Iron Sky is a Finnish-German-Australian production, which pushes things a bit further.

Crowd funding isn't the newest concept, but never had it been as big as in the last couple of years. Thanks to things like Kickstarter, and dozens of other options, fans can now contribute to the creation of anything they choose. Of course, this has been great for aspiring filmmakers, allowing them to forgo major studios and pitch their ideas right to the audience. While the makers Iron Sky traveled to the Cannes film festival with only a teaser trailer to entice investors, it came back with a number of productions companies as well as many independent investors as well. Iron Sky also allowed anyone who was interested in the film to contribute by purchasing "war bonds" and other such merchandise to help fund the movie. "Look, we’re only calling them “war bonds”. We’re not implying that they’re actual bonds. They won’t be redeemed after the war or anything. Geez, it’s only a movie." (

On top of being able to help fund the movie, anyone could also contribute their ideas and opinions threw Wreck-a-Movie, a website that allows for filmmakers to invite supports to chip in and contribute their ideas for the movie. Now, while clearly Iron Sky got inventive when it came to funding and making the movie, you might be wondering at this point how all of this turned out on screen. The answer; amazing!

Iron Sky takes all the fun of an alien invasion movie and just mashes it up with Nazis. Apparently, since 1945, a Fourth Reich has survived on the moon, building it's Death Star equivalent and preparing to invade earth. Unfortunately, isolated from earth, technology hasn't advanced far beyond the ability to colonize the moon, transport hundreds through space, and harvest helium 3, leaving them in what has been called a Diesel-Punk state. However, when the U.S. sends a couple of astronauts back to the moon some 50 years later as a campaign stunt, the unlucky men uncover the Fourth Reich on the dark side of the moon.

Now, one of the things I liked so much about Iron Sky was that it was not a simple Nazis are bad Americans are great. The movie mocks both the convoluted and somewhat diluted fascism of the Aryan moon race, as well as the ridiculous political campaigns of the United States. Those aren't the only countries mocked however, as one scene in particular pokes fun at the political games of the world as a whole. Iron Sky doesn't take any sides, and as a comedy, it will have you laughing all the way through, although the most hilarious scene is without a doubt when Renate and Washington are questioned by the police.

So. You are a formerly dead black model who is now suddenly a living white hobo after spending a weekend on the moon.
Amongst the movie are many references, and some are more obvious than others. The female President, is clearly a poke at Sarah Palin, while you might just miss the fact that there are three World Trade towers in this New York City. There are also some historical references such as the invasion times, and elements of the President's campaign. However, as this is a mostly Finnish and German production and so there are many cultural references I didn't pick up. The soundtrack for instance is written and performed by Laibach a popular Slovenian band.There are also numerous other pop-culture references which I'm sure Finnish audiences would enjoy.

The  science fiction side of things is sure to please many as well, there is something for those who enjoy Star Wars-like space fights and ships, as well as plenty for fans of things like steam-punk. If anyone remembers watching Sucker Punch and wishing they got more of the steam-punk Nazi scenario, Iron Sky is probably going to satisfy you. I for one loved seeing the technology, clothing and secret moon base of the Nazis and most of it is done in spectacular CGI. There is a very fine line when it comes to CGI, and if it overused or badly done, it can ruin a movie. Hollywood is a big fan of CGI, and with massive budgets, it can turn out some impressive eye-candy like most of the scenes in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. However, even with it's much smaller budget Iron Sky can easily compete with any sci-fi movies CGI, and Iron Sky's special effects or more than enough to give one an eyegasm. Samuli Torssonen did a fantastic job as special effects supervisor.

If airships and zeppelins ever make a sudden appearance, I fear people will automatically assume Nazis.
Since IronSky is not a Hollywood or American production that means that the filmmakers were free to go and use more than one language. To this day I will never understand the "I don't do subtitles" crowd and enjoy movie that use other languages, especially when it makes sense. I mean, if Iron Sky just showed a bunch of Nazis speaking English, it wouldn't make much sense. The use of German improves the movie significantly, especially when it comes to setting the tone and mood of a scene. Also, because it is a Finnish-German-Australian film, we get a lot of foreign actors. The star, Julia Dietze as Renate Richter is a great actress and I'm glad she got a chance to star. Götz Otto plays the future Führer like the stereotype he is, Peta Sergeant is as crazy as she needs to be. Overall the whole cast gives some great performances that very on the edge of B-movie campyness, but hey, that is just more fun.

Personally, I hope that Iron Sky gets a lot of attention and doesn't remain a cult movie. It blows away any sci-fi action movie Hollywood has come out with lately, and full of originality. It is also helping to advance independent filmmaking with many new ideas and strategies for funding and making a movie. While, unfortunately it isn't getting a wide release in Canada, it has had a strong distribution in Europe, and I actually had two other friends watch it last night as well by coincidence. If this movie comes to a theater near me, I will be grabbing as many people as I can and rushing to the screening. If it doesn't word has been announced on a sequel or prequel and all they have to do is tell me where to throw my money. Hell, I may even put this ahead of The Avengers when I rank the best movies of 2012, Iron Sky is just that fun.

Also, some people actually believe in moon Nazis, so this isn't the first time anyone thought this. Just so you know.

Iron Sky IMDb

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