Schlocky Political Satire Delivers Little Sense With A Few Chuckles
Mar 14, 2014
If the movies taught me anything as of late, it’s that Nazis are due for a comeback! They’re taken center stage in some pretty solid World War II era zombie flicks, and I recall watching a film last year about the SS’s secret work to harness the forces of evil on D-Day. Last year saw still another one – the political satire IRON SKY – which was apparently so popular that it was eventually due to a director’s cut double-dip. More on that after the qualifier …
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
The skinny: despite everyone knowing that the Nazis fled to South America after the butt kickin’ they suffer at the end of WWII (doesn’t everybody know that?), IRON SKY posits that they flew to the dark side of the moon, where they immediately took up production of both flying saucers and Helium-3. (Google it: I’ll be here when you get back.) Now – on the verge of a Sarah-Palin-esque candidate’s re-election to the American Presidency – the Nazis decide it’s time to come back and claim planet Earth as its own … or something like that despite attempting to blow it up from afar in the explosive, effects-laden climax.
Uh … where to begin?
It’s hard for me to honestly make much of IRON SKY: DIRECTOR’S CUT, and I don’t think that’s because I haven’t seen the original theatrical cut. I’ve heard plenty about the flick – it received some fairly strong praise for more than a handful of fanboy sites I tend to read industry blurbs from – though it skirted past the radar of most legitimate news outlets. If memory serves, IRON SKY started out as a bloated internet project that – once they screened some footage online – suddenly became ‘the cat’s meow’ for a whole new generation of entertainment yucksters. This isn’t to say that there’s little accomplishment in here because nothing could be farther from the truth: it’s a film, and, as such, it has a story, but thematically, it’s all over the map (in a messy way, not a good one), leaving me to question how much of it (or if any of it) should be taken seriously.
See, when you’re blending together satire with much more broad comedy, it tends to serve the picture better if you limit the social commentary aspects of the story and let the ‘jokes’ work their magic. If you insist on packing the picture to the gills with obvious political barbs – the type of which the average ten-year-old probably won’t understand – then you’re really not all that interested in “feeding the muse” as you are in engaging in, say, character defamation. As a satire, IRON SKY makes good use of irony, but it fails to serve up a coherent message beyond, “The rest of the world hates you, United States of America.” (Tip: we already know that.) What there is of a script (I say this acknowledging that significant portions of the film feel entirely like it’s been loosely culled together around ideas and not a true script) feels like it’s supposed to be much funnier than it is truly satirical.
The trouble there is that, solely as a comedy, its jokes just aren’t all that funny. Well, maybe I’m being a bit rash, and that’s inaccurate. If you are that ten years old I’ve already alluded to, and you like humor in the vein of cartoons filled with brutish buffoons, stock villains, and predictable sight gags, then maybe you’d get more than a few chuckles out of such simple and simplistic observations. Parts of it are played deliberately over-the-top, but there are enough parts that aren’t that I can’t help but wonder if anyone knew what it was they were shooting much less what point they hoped to make.
Color me confused. Or a pro-America zealot, if you’d rather. I’ll always remember that joke of Finland not breaking an international weapons treaty, and I’ll probably always fondly remember Julia Dietze’s incomprehensible take on a spunky, scatterbrained Nazi, but that’s it. Either way, I gave the flick its 15-minutes of fame, but now I’m likely to forget it.
IRON SKY: DIRECTOR’S CUT (2012) is produced by Blind Spot Pictures Oy, 27 Films Production, New Holland Pictures, and a few others whose spellings won’t jive in spellcheck so I’ll leave ‘em be. DVD distribution is being handled by Entertainment One (aka E One Entertainment). For those needing it spelled out perfectly, this is a mixed language film (German and English), but there’s far more German than there is English. (You’ll need the subtitles if you don’t speak fairly fluent Deutsche!) Lastly, if it special features you’re looking for, then you have a fairly in-depth making-of documentary to look forward to along with some photos and theatrical teasers; the packaging also includes a pretty spiffy looking 32-page Exclusive Concept Art Book that definitely demonstrates how much love went into certain aspects of the pre-production process. (Seriously – all kidding aside – this is one smartly made flick; I just wish I enjoyed it more.)
(MILDLY) RECOMMENDED. I suppose if I were a ten-year-old raging commie pinko I’d probably be worshipping the cinematic triumph of IRON SKY: DIRECTOR’S CUT or some other such nonsensical anti-capitalist hogwash. While there’s undoubtedly enough fanboy blood pumping through my veins to appreciate some quality special effects, some fairly masterful set decoration, and some equally impressive sound and visual work, I’d still have far too much grey matter to interest me in its one-dimensional characters, disheveled story continuity, and loosely veiled hate speech. Next time, maybe we should just leave all of Europe to fight its own battles.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at E One Entertainment (aka Entertainment One) provided me with a DVD copy of IRON SKY: DIRECTOR’S CUT (STEELBOX EDITION) by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
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