Jarv’s Schlock Vault Special: Iron Sky

Nazis? They’re the only people we ever beat in a fair fight

Oh yes. Oh yes my pretties. We have waited. We have kept the faith. We, the devoted few, those that held their heads up high while the masses poured scorn by the bucketload down on to us never once forsook the cause. Oh, how they mocked, how they heaped derision on our hopes and dreams that one day a nutty Finnish director named Timo Vuorensola would somehow bring his vision of Nazis hiding on the dark side of the moon to the screens. And now, my loyal flock, our faith has been rewarded because Iron Sky has landed.

They come in peace.

Contains NAZIS ON THE FUCKING MOON and spoilers below.

The nippers in Renate’s class in the 4th Reich didn’t dare write sweary words on the blackboard behind her.

First up, change your expectations. This has no business being in The Vault and the only reason it is in is that I originally covered it here when it was but a trailer. At the time, the appeal had gone out and it looked unlikely that Iron Sky would ever receive distribution. Funded almost entirely by Crowd Sourcing, Iron Sky is, in many ways, a truly revolutionary film. However, the trailers are selling it as something it isn’t; it looks like a piece of space silliness, something for the likes of me to laugh at. The reality is completely different, as this is something to laugh with. What Timo and crew have turned out here is a legitimate comedy! Iron Sky is, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, laugh out loud funny on more than one occasion, and I don’t believe there’s one single laugh in the film that isn’t unintentional.

Now that I’ve asked you to change your expectations, I’m also going to ask you to lower them. This is the 21st Century where comedy is desperate, and given that Iron Sky was made by Scandinavians (not renowned for their sense of humour), not forgetting that it is cast with Germans (really not renowned for their sense of humour), this seems like it doesn’t stand a cat in hell’s chance of being remotely amusing. That it is funny is little more than a minor miracle, but if you are expecting a full on feast of schlocky goodness, then you are, I’m afraid, going to be sorely disappointed.

The auditions for Starship Troopers 4 went swimmingly.

I’m barely going to talk about the plot here, instead I’m giving a brief synopsis of the premise. Iron Sky takes place in 2018. The Nazi’s have been hiding on the Dark Side of the Moon since the end of the Second World War. Living in isolation, they are indoctrinated by generation into National Socialist beliefs as if these are natural. Two hapless American Astronauts (one white, and one black, in, hilariously, a black suit) discover the Nazi base, just as the Nazis are preparing to invade earth again. What follows next is some surprisingly sharp satire, a lot of superb visual references, and some really, really funny jokes.

Visually, this film is absolutely stunning. I have checked the budget for this, and I am astonished to discover that it’s only €7.5 million. Given that they started with little more than a teaser trailer and some concept art, to have turned in a film as gorgeous as this for so little cash makes an absolute mockery of the trend of modern comedy to fork out tens of millions of dollars on absolute trash. Your Highness, for example, one of last year’s plethora of deeply unfunny crap cost the better part of $40m and that’s before marketing, and isn’t a fraction as good to look at as this film. The sets are brilliantly realised, the texture of the film is lush and rich and there is a fucking great big space battle at the climax of the movie. Really, this is as close as it is possible to get on this budget to actually bringing concept art to life.

Vivian describes this as “unsubtle”. Well, duh. They are German.

And it’s just as well that the concept art is spectacular. The steampunk Nazi moon base is a superb bit of design with massive greasy chains, huge turning cogs and so forth. It looks simply fantastic. The attack ships themselves are masterpieces of design, being huge zeppelins and small and zippy flying saucers, not to mention the giant ship Götterdämmerung with its seething metallic parts and ridiculous level of armament.

Julia Dietze plays the naïve Renate, teacher and all round “Earthologist”. This is a fresh performance, she’s clearly in on the joke, and seems to be having a great time. Renate’s heartfelt speech about the nobility of the Nazis (that forms the best satirical gag in the film) is brilliantly delivered, her eyes practically glisten with tears, and it’s simply superb. Udo Keir is solid as the aging Fuhrer, and Götz Otto is suitably Teutonic as Klaus, aspiring leader, and Peta Sergeant is amusingly predatory as Vivian. The only real weak link is Christopher Kirby as Washington, but he gets plenty of laughs of his own, even if I don’t buy for a minute that he’s a male model. Finally, on the acting front Stephanie Paul is quite good as Sarah PalinThe President of the United States.

They were glad of the breathing apparatus on the moon as every meal consisted of sausages and sauerkraut.

Mentioning the President brings me on to the main thrust of the comedy in the film. It’s satire, yes, but as it took Iron Sky 6 years to get to the screen, this is a joke that’s already past its sell by date. Yes it is funny, and who doesn’t love laughing at Palin and America, but the chances of her being in the White House diminish by the minute. The childish UN Panel on the other hand is far more plausible, and there’s a great joke about half way through with North Korea. I always imagine the Security Council as overfed bickering bureaucrats, and Iron Sky does hit this one on the nose. Some of the references for comic effect are supremely well done, with the iPhone powering the Nazi invasion force being a very funny dig at Independence Day, and the film is laced through with visual references to other material such as Star Trek. Aside from that, though, there are many legitimately funny jokes in the film. Some do, admittedly, work better than others, but little touches such as the “break glass if in need of motivational speech panel”  did indeed make me smile. There are also some clever and highly amusing lines delivered (usually by Dietze) and as such, when this is on form it works a treat.

“Heil APPLE”

Above all else, though, Iron Sky is simply fun. I know that’s an unusual thing to say about a comedy, but it pokes fun at itself, and isn’t particularly trying to be broad and heavy social satire. Well, not beyond “Hur hur hur, Palin is a Nazi”. It’s a pleasant and eager to please film, and I don’t honestly see anything wrong with that, particularly when you consider that it looks so good. The attitude and heart of the film buy it a lot of forgiveness in my opinion, and I really think that some so-called “Broadsheets” and their pompous film sections should be feeling ashamed of themselves. I suspect it’s because it is light and airy, it doesn’t deliver the savage critique of the modern society of the 1% that they need to “like” a comedy. This isn’t a film to pick on, it’s just for the fun and the glory of it, and I wish more movies, particularly comedies, had this attitude.

If you don’t go, you will always regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but you will, and for the rest of your life. And bring me back a hot dog.

On the downside, as it is comedy, there’s a hefty failure rate to some jokes. However, more importantly, this is going to date extremely quickly. The problem is that the digs at Palin and the like already feel old, and as such will keep the film as a product of its time. In 10 years this will be a curio, the first of the crowd sourced films, and it will have earned  its place even if the content of the movie may not justify this.

On a different note, before I sign off: a nice big sarcastic round of applause to Revolver Entertainment for burying the film. The bought it purely for the DVD rights, but had to guarantee a cinema run to get it. So what did they do? They buried it for 1 day in absurd and hard to get to cinemas. On that note, a nice heartfelt “thank you” to the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square for reacting to public demand and screening it for a week. Admittedly, they did this not for love, because it has sold out solidly, but given that, it strikes me as dim-witted that Revolver couldn’t have given it some time as a proper release.

The Nazi space fleet. Germans really do love their sausages, don’t they?

Overall, I like this film, but if I’m honest, I was always going to. It’s not as fresh as it wants to be, and yes, it is terribly lightweight, but I honestly don’t care. I had fun, and considering the pompous and overbearing horseshit that seems to pour out of the cinema now, or the crass and cretinous drivel of the likes of Apatow, then I’m glad we’ve got a comedy that is actually amusing and is actually entertaining. Not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, I can say that a hell of a lot more here works than doesn’t and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. I’m approving this one, and I do recommend it.

Iron Sky: nailed on 2012 OUTLANDER Award winner. You heard it here first.

Until next time,

Jarv.

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About Jarv

Workshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.

60 responses to “Jarv’s Schlock Vault Special: Iron Sky”

  1. Jarv says :

    Well, there was never any doubt I was going positive on this one.

  2. Jarv says :

    Oh, and last time on the solo post front- I didn’t talk about it, because it’s a heavy spoiler, but the end of the film is one of the most bitter, and bleakly ironic things that I’ve seen a movie (particularly one as light as this) pull.

  3. Bartleby says :

    Yea, looks likeit worked for you as a comedy. It didnt so much for me, outside the first hour or so. There were chuckles, but I sat there with most of the jokes falling around me. It isnt satire but its not quite spoof either, and you are right about it being light and airy, but I felt like it needed a better handle on the characters for that to work.

    Its why I didnt write on it for so long. I just didnt know what to say about it. I enjoed it, more than the two movies it reminded me of–sky captain and mars attacks–but I will admit Im not enthusiastic on it as you are.

    I may see it again at some point, but Im not rushing.

    • Jarv says :

      It’s a fair point. I think there’s a lot of very non-American humour (and to be honest the entire film does place America squarely as the butt of most of the jokes) in it that maybe wouldn’t work across the pond.

      A little gag, late in the film that made me laugh was the UN council with “Who hasn’t sent their ships” and Finland puts their hand up.

      But that was preceded by “You never invade anywhere for natural resources”. Which is very dated. As is the Palin stuff.

      I think I’ll enjoy it more on second watch.

  4. tombando says :

    How does this rate vs. Sky Crapton?

    • Bartleby says :

      its better than sky captain…thats what I tried to emphasize in my review, is tha its not just an homage–it’s an actual movie. Sky Captain was just a stringing together of older films and comics into a pretty but empty thing. I feel similar about mars attacks.

      Iron Sky is it’s own silly movie. I read someone call it more Carry On than Strangelove, and that’s about right.

      I view it as a really impressive visual achievement with a bunch of characters and jokes I barely cared about. If the jokes had worked for me, I’d probably feel more like Jarv does right now. I’m kinda bummed I didnt.

  5. Droid says :

    FOR IRON SKY!!!!

    Yeah, I liked this movie. It’s far better than I expected, and the comedy in it is genuinely funny. “I thought I was going to have to bomb Australia!” made me laugh quite a bit. It worked more often than not, and it looks superb.

  6. Droid says :

    Sky Captain blows. I like Mars Attacks. I’d say IS and MA are about even.

  7. Droid says :

    “You do realise you’re kissing a black man.”

    hehe

  8. tombando says :

    Did this need Warwick Davis?

  9. tombando says :

    Is the dreaded Harold Spoogefest for this out yet?

    • Jarv says :

      He’ll hate it.

      It won’t “work” for him, and that it was financed through the internet with no support from AICN (which really makes me wonder what the fuck the point of them is) and they gave him no pwesents, then he’ll pretend it doesn’t exist.

      • Jarv says :

        This is the most recent reference from them:

        http://www.aintitcool.com/node/53024

        They did cover it in the past, but hardly heavy and only at festivals and things.

        Not one review. I’m not a journalist/ industry insider/ owner of website with massive hits and I’ve done better. They should have interviewed Timo, Dietze etc at the least.

        This is why films like Iron Sky bomb- the very people that should support them, don’t. Not that fatass’ support makes a blind bit of difference.

      • Droid says :

        5 reviews of MIB3 is much more important than one for Iron Sky. You should know that.

      • Jarv says :

        Ah yes. I forgot completely. You would think they would have reviewed it at Berlin.

        Never mind, you keep bashing out those MIB3 reviews, fatland.

        Someone needs to get a grip on editorial policy there.

      • Jarv says :

        Or even invent one.

  10. tombando says :

    Harold sucks

  11. Col. Tigh-Fighter says :

    Excellent! I’ve been a fan of these guys since I fell in love with Star Wreck all those years ago. When does its run end in London? I should really make the time to go see this in a cinema.

      • Jarv says :

        And it’s only the Prince Charles that had it.

      • Jarv says :

        Aaaaaaaand!

        Due to public demand- it’s been extended by another week.

      • Jarv says :

        That really makes me very happy. Frankly. I’d like to repeat my Fuck you to Revolver. What a balls up they’ve made of this.

        I know the Prince Charles is unusual, in that it specifically caters for cult films and whatnot, but they could have sold this out in other places for a good couple of weeks. Given it 1 week mainstream, and 1 month in places like PCC, Everyman, the Art Theatre in Sheffield, and so forth. They should be fucking disgusted at themselves.

        Cynical, greedy, bastards. This wouldn’t bother me, if they weren’t fucking inept to boot.

      • Col. Tigh-Fighter says :

        Cool. I will make sure I see it after the weekend. I’ve paid for my parents to come to London for the jubilee weekend as an anniversary treat (like a proper grown up son), so much historical visits and flag waving for me until Monday 🙂

      • Jarv says :

        Yikes. I’m legging it to the countryside.

        Pass on that- incidentally, we saw the crowds gathered for the premier of iLL Manor in Leicester Square last night. How did it go?

      • Col. Tigh-Fighter says :

        I didnt get invited to the premier. I could have probably kicked up a fuss, but I had been to the cast & crew screening a few days before, so I wasnt too bothered by it. Location Managers dont often get premier invites. Although I did to Big Fat Gyspy Gangster, and got to meet Johnny Vaugh, and that fat bird from Easterenders that Rickys character was banging.

        High life!

      • Jarv says :

        Mixing it with the rich and famous!

  12. Just Pillow Talk says :

    Hmm…okay…sort of sounds worth a look, but clearly falls short of what we really hoped for. I have to say I’m a bit dissapointed in what type of movie it turned out to be from the sounds of it.

    • Jarv says :

      It’s ok. I liked it, thought it was a laugh, Jonah not so much.

      Not what we thought though.

      • Just Pillow Talk says :

        Don’t get me wrong, eventually I’ll see it, but an intentional comedy I did not want per se.

      • Col. Tigh-Fighter says :

        It does sound like their last one. It was a sci fi, and political comedy last time. Parts slapstick, and parts satire.

        All the Russians were drunks,or idiots, and operated crap machinery badly.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        All the Russians were drunks,or idiots, and operated crap machinery badly.

        Correct, what’s your point?

  13. ThereWolf says :

    I’m glad Iron Sky’s got an extended run. Result.

    Saw it advertised on play.com – but I think it’s something like £12 for the blu-ray. Ouch.

    Sounds ace though, gotta see this now.

    Good stuff, Jarv.

  14. ThereWolf says :

    Seen it now…

    Loved it. The review is pretty much bang on. The UN panel segments are great – and there was a fantastic audience moment as well, ‘North Korea’, the UN panel are falling about laughing and WE were all falling about laughing.

    Only small screens at the Cornerhouse, but it was pleasing that ‘Iron Sky’ got moved to a slightly bigger auditorium coz the ticket sales were on the way to exceeding the capacity of its original screen.

    Can’t believe what they achieved with the budget – the space battle is ace.

    • Jarv says :

      Good stuff. I’m chuffed that demand is actually forcing places to give it more of a run than Revolved intended. Fucking wankers.

      That was almost exactly our experience with the North Korea gag- the audience howled with laughter

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