A Nazi invasion from the Moon is about all you need to know about Finnish director Timo Vuorensela's silly, sci-fi adventure, but never taking itself too seriously and some impressive production design keep it from being written off completely.
Distributed By: Other
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 50 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 03/11/2014
For over 70 years, a remnant of the Third Reich has occupied the far side of the Moon, watching and waiting for the perfect moment to return to Earth with an invasion force. Led by Fuhrer Wolfgang Kortzfleisch (Udo Kier) and his second-in-command Klaus Adler (Götz Otto), the surviving Nazi regime has hardly changed since it fled the planet in 1945, but the clandestine, fascist society is about to get a crash course in modern culture and politics when an American lunar mission stumbles on its operation. Killing all of the astronauts except crew member James Washington (Christopher Kirby), the Nazis try to get more information about what they presume is a military effort, but quickly learn the African-American male model was only hired to give the endeavor, and by extension the President of the United States (Stephanie Paul), some PR points. Washington’s smartphone, however, proves invaluable as the Reich’s Dr. Richter (Tilo Prückner) figures out how to use it for his secret weapon, the Götterdämmerung or “Twilight of the Gods.” But the weapon falls short of full operation because of the phone’s depleted battery, prompting Adler to return to Earth, with a now Aryan-ized Washington as his guide, to retrieve another “telephone computer.” Adler’s reluctant girlfriend and the regime’s resident “Earthologist” Renate Richter (Julia Dietz) stows away on the ship, looking to finally meet the people she’s long studied from afar, but Earth and its citizens will prove nothing like she or her Nazi comrades imagined.
The Production Rating: 3.5/5
Directed by Finnish filmmaker Timo Vuorensola, the man behind a series of viral Star Trek parody films, Iron Sky (AKA “the Moon Nazi movie”) is about as ludicrous as you’d expect, but it’s the production team’s unabashed embrace of the lunacy that makes it as entertaining as it is. The script, written by Michael Kalesniko and Johanna Sinisalo, takes a somewhat kitchen sink approach to its comedy-filled plot, making out-of-touch Nazis the main butt of the jokes (the discovery of the mobile phone is especially hilarious), but also skewering the U.S. government (led by a very Sarah Palin-esque president) and pretty much all First and Second World countries (who turn out to have secretly weaponized all their research satellites, despite promises to the contrary). For good measure, it also throws in some borderline politically incorrect sight gags, mostly involving Washington’s “albinization.” The cartoonish performances by the cast of mostly unknowns (Kier is the only one who would be considered recognizable) also lends itself well to the outlandish proceedings, reinforcing that to take anything in the movie too seriously would be pointless.
While the film’s outright silliness may not appeal to everyone, it’s much harder to dismiss its production design and CGI work, which clearly received the lion’s share of the $10 million budget. Sure, most of the live action was clearly shot on a green-screened soundstage (looking not unlike it’s older, American cousin Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow) and the amount of detail and texture in the purely digital creations aren’t on par with most Hollywood summer blockbusters, but a tip of the hat goes to the visual artists who conceived some of the virtual sets and the mechanical workings of the Götterdämmerung weapon. Any graphical inconsistencies early in the film are made up for by sheer intricacy of design and execution in the finale.
There’s also something to be said about the film’s surprisingly bleak conclusion, which doesn’t shy away from the consequences of the world being run by people little better than a maniacal, fascist dictator. While the incisive, political satire isn't exactly sophisticated, it's a fine complement to the outsized premise, giving the production a measure of respectability when the filmmakers could have just settled for silly.
Iron Sky: Director's Cut includes about 20 minutes of material not found in the theatrical version. Undoubtedly the additional footage results in some pacing problems, but not having seen the shorter version, I can't say where things were ultimately tightened up in that edit. Those who have seen both versions are encouraged to offer their observations.
Framed at 2.35:1 and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec, the transfer features solid contrast and black levels, with only large swaths of dark areas (e.g. star fields) looking more opened up than the ideal. Sharpness and fine object detail, however, are consistently impressive - skin texture, points of light in space, and the mechanical components of various machinery are all finely rendered (some of the less critical CGI sequences reveal the production's budget limitations, but that's no fault of the transfer). The color palette is limited, almost monochromatic, due to the film's steely color grading, but nevertheless, spots of red in clothing and lipstick exhibit pleasing depth and uniformity. More eagle eyed viewers may spot instances of noise in more finely detailed areas, but most will likely overlook them due to their infrequency and brevity.
Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA
English and German dialogue in the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is consistently crisp, clear and intelligible. Surround activity can be fairly aggressive, if a bit bluntly executed, for things like spacecraft flybys and battle sequences, but echo effects and support for the score offer examples of more subtle and balanced efforts. LFE shows up in the appropriate places, but doesn't necessarily shake the walls with the range of its extension and power. Still, the sum of all the parts makes for a more than adequate complement to the visuals.
Audio Rating: 4/5
Special Features Rating: 3/5
- Forging the Iron Sky (1:18:32, HD): The in-depth, making-of documentary covers the topics from how the film was conceived, to script/story development, to production, to post-production.
- Photo Gallery (1:22, HD): Sixteen images from the set.
- Theatrical Trailer (2:00, HD)
- Teasers (5:40, HD): Three teaser spots set the stage and tone for the feature film.
- DVD Copy
- Concept Art Booklet: Features 32 pages of illustrations and sketches of the film’s production design elements.
- Steelbook Packaging
One Film USA launches an impressive HD presentation for Iron Sky: Director's Cut, Timo Vuorensola's high flying, science fiction comedy about Nazis invading from the Moon. The special features don't offer many surprises, but those who enjoyed the film are encouraged to pick up the release, both for the longer cut as well as the collectible steelbook packaging. Others looking for some campy, sci-fi fun should look to the shorter theatrical version for their first taste of the production.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewed By: Cameron Yee
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