Friday, May 25, 2012

Iron Sky - cheesy, far-fetched, challenging, and screening again twice this weekend at the QFT

Queen’s Film Theatre made a fabulous decision when they squeezed in a screening of Iron Sky to Wednesday evening’s programme. (And they’ve made a great decision to screen it again this weekend at 4.20pm on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.)

Eagerly anticipated by science fiction fans, the QFT was packed out and a queue formed while waiting for the previous film to finish. The geek count was high with flyers for fan groups and other scifi screenings being distributed to the waiting crowds.

A US moon landing – orchestrated to boost the incumbent Sarah Palin’s US president’s chances of re-election – stumbles on an impressive moon base on the dark side of the moon. Built by Nazis fleeing Germany at the end of the Second World War, and undiscovered until now, plans are underway within this lunar community to invade Earth and finish the job the Führer started.

The capture of a black American astronaut causes consternation in the Nazi base. Is a moon invasion by Earth imminent? Little do they realise that the captured spaceman James Washington (Christopher Kirby) was chosen to front the populist ‘Black to the Moon’ mission for his pretty looks rather than his military or scientific expertise.

The plot follows the ambitious Klaus Adler (Götz Otto) as he heads back to Earth with his stowaway fiancé Renate Richter (Julia Dietze) to gather a much-needed power source with which to fuel the enormous Götterdämmerung invasion craft. Can they slip into twenty first century society unnoticed? Will heavy threat or lyrical idealism be most convincing?

(Aide) “They’re Nazis ... from the moon.”(US President) “They’re the only guys we ever managed to beat in a fair fight.”

As a film Iron Sky didn’t disappoint. The audience laughed and giggled their way through the plot as the relationships between the Nazis, the US president and her staff became ever more confused. There are a lot of hidden references to other films, books and modern culture. While the science in the film is often flimsy, the plot, costumes, CGI and sets are full of great details: Trench coats, Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, imaginary German compound nouns like Meteorblitzkrieg, strong women and flawed humanity aplenty.

After providing so many unfortunate or unexpected laughs over the preceding ninety minutes, the film’s serene ending is an amazing act of directorial bravery and left the QFT audience in stunned silence as the final scenes were projected onto the screen.

Iron Sky will not play well to many US audiences. Dogfights over cities and burning buildings will ring 9/11 alarm bells. Politically the film is at times more anti-American than anti-Nazi. And the film’s 15 certificate is deserved given the language used at various points.

Yet through its fictional storyline it manages to question Western attitudes, military destruction, and challenge the corrupting nature of political power. Not bad going for a cheesy and far-fetched piece of science fiction. It will join Serenity on the list of cult scifi. [Update - Serenity is been screened at QFT on Saturday 23 June!]

Well worth going to see this weekend (or ordering on DVD/Blu-ray) if you want to escape to the dark side of the moon and enter a science fiction world that would make your physics and history teachers flinch.

Update - Norwin's thoughtful review is now posted on Destroy All Onions.

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