Sunday 6 October 2019

Iron Sky: The Coming Race (2019) - Movie Review

2012’s Iron Sky is a little miracle of a film. Born out of the European B-movie sci-fi petri dish from the same guys who broke out by parodying Star Trek with the Star Wreck series, it remains one of the weirdest and ballsiest theatrical releases of the decade. It is undeniably dated, right up to using a Sarah Palin analogue as the U.S. president, but as a satire of fascism and politics on a global scale, it is downright scary how prescient it is. I mean, it’s not much of a stretch to see how much fascist iconography has grown in prevalence in the last handful of years.

Making a sequel to something like this runs a serious risk of failing to meet the bonkers threshold set by space Nazis on the dark side of the moon who turn a black male model into a white crazed hobo, but thankfully, this film has crazy to spare and then some.

Going from the partially-crowdfunded budget of the original to the all­-crowdfunded budget here is unfortunately noticeable in some areas. The sideways-steampunk aesthetic of the Nazi moon base still holds up, alongside the cobbled-together tech within, but once we reach the center of the narrative (i.e. the center of the hollow Earth), the reliance on green-screening and rather conspicuous CGI holds back the wow factor in what are ultimately perfectly fine/insane set pieces.

It also doesn’t carry the same political savvy of the first, and that’s without bringing hindsight into the equation. It contains a few similar notes as the original, like villainous characters siding with the Nazis not out of a mutual agreement on ethics, but purely because they have something to gain from the other, but it doesn’t carry the same weight as it did before. Part of that might be because said villainous character is the head priest of a religion devoted to Steve Jobs, played by Tom Green no less, but yeah, not as salient as before.

Then again, commentary on fascism always felt like a side dish in the first film anyway, as if it was something worth mentioning because it’s brought up alongside the thing the filmmakers really wanted to delve into. And it’s here where that becomes more obvious, and where the franchise’s true fascination reveals itself: Old-school conspiracy theories. Nazi UFOs worked before, and here, they’ve gone for the multiple. Not only are the space Nazis now space lizard Nazis (who also contributed to the evolution of mankind), we have the aforementioned hollow center of the Earth where dinosaurs still roam, and the existence of the Holy Grail.

When these elements collide with the script’s want to poke at technology magnates like Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg (mileage may vary on how funny that is, but quite frankly, cannibal space lizard Steve Jobs is a thing I needed in my life), the result is the front runner for the most insane film of the year. It passes the genre weird test with flying colours, as I’m sure that me trying to explain what’s in this thing has made me sound like that one homeless guy on the bus who won’t stop muttering to himself.

I find myself unable to care too much about things like production design (which admittedly is still solid) or political commentary (which again is pretty good when we get it in the mirror universe Last Supper) or basic sense because the wacky on display is just that damn enthralling.

I like my genre fiction to be as out-there as possible, and even that feels like an understatement where this film is concerned. It may not carry all that I loved about the original, but as a continuation of what I sincerely hope is a lasting series and a bit of Invisibles-style conspiracy fiction, I was more than satisfied with what director/writer Timo Vuorensola brought together here.

If you want Asylum-level weird (which is fitting, since ‘Nazis at the centre of the earth’ is what The Asylum did for their rip-off of the original Iron Sky), or just want something to put on while under certain chemical influences, by all that is whacked-out, check this thing out.

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