A few years ago, a bunch of indie filmmakers were in Turku, starting the premiere tour for their ambitious project, a special effects–heavy movie made on a shoestring budget. The movie was called Star Wreck, and it went on to become the most watched Finnish movie of all time.
Where do you go from something like this? You think bigger, of course. After more than six years, many of the same guys are again on tour. This time they (backed by an impressive bunch of financial supporters, a story by a Finlandia-awarded author, an international cast, and a huge fan following) have gone to the other extreme and produced Iron Sky: the most expensive Finnish movie ever (although on a Hollywood scale, I guess they are still operating on a shoestring budget). And tonight the Iron Sky tour came to Turku.
Turku was a riot of awesomeness, biggest crowd so far, standing ovations loved every moment.
The largest movie theater in Turku filled with an enthusiastic crowd (and quite a few familiar faces from the local fandom). After the movie there was a Q&A with director Timo Vuorensola and producer Tero Kaukomaa—uncommonly for Finns, the audience had so many questions there wasn’t time to give answers to everybody—and Timo and Tero were also available for signatures and quick chat afterwards, so I’m sure everybody got their money’s worth today.
In case you haven’t heard about Iron Sky, it’s a science fiction comedy about space nazis returning to Earth in the year 2018 from their hideout on the far side of the Moon. And no, the movie isn’t quite as silly as the concept sounds. Instead of a haphazardly assembled collection of jokes we got a proper movie, with a plot that makes sense (within the premise, of course), with several good performances, and even a couple of emotionally touching moments. In addition to quite a few laughs.
This is however a light comedy, so you shouldn’t pay too much attention to realism (things like people falling great distances without harm, and apparently without mass either, or how a huge swastika-shaped base on the surface of the Moon has gone unnoticed for decades, or how objects fly in space). This isn’t a political satire either, so the political content is quite lightweight, although there are a couple of insightful moments (I especially liked one scene at the very end of the movie which showed that even in a comedy there can be consequences to actions, and suddenly made the audience stop laughing when they realized what was going on). For fans of funny pop culture references, the movie has plenty to offer (plus there are a few amusing in-jokes that you probably have to be a Finn to catch).
As those who’ve seen the trailer know, USA in 2018 has a somewhat sarahpalinesque president. I was sceptic about this based on the trailers (I feared a Saturday Night Live–style pastiche), but am happy to report that it’s not as bad as it sounds—as a matter of fact it isn’t bad at all; the character is pretty funny. The nazis are also handled with skill: they are a difficult subject to have as comedic characters that aren’t one-dimensional screwballs but I think the movie pulled it off. (They got quite a bit of funding from Germany, so apparently they thought so too, and the film opened at the Berlin film festival and got a good reception there as well.) There were a couple of slapstick moments that I didn’t think quite fit in with the rest of the movie, but all in all the balance of humor, dramatic moments, and general silliness was a successful one.
The film has an international cast, mainly from Germany and Australia. Götz Otto (those who remember him from the film Downfall should pay particular attention to one scene in the film—you’ll recognize it when you see it) makes an impressive nazi, and Julia Dietze lights up the screen with her presence (It’s such a cliché to say she brings both strength and vulnerability to the role, but still it applies here quite well). Other cast performs also well, maybe with the exception of Peta Sergeant who I thought overacted quite jarringly at times. The movie has several strong female roles (without making a fuss about it), which is a plus (a friend pointed out after the movie that it also passes the Bechdel test).
And the final word, as this is a science fiction film: how are the space effects? One word: awesome. The retro-nostalgic design of the sets and spaceships is stylish and impressive, and the action scenes are exceptionally well carried out (no prolonged futile battles here, the action works). Also, being scored by Laibach can never hurt a movie, especially one with such grandiose moments as Iron Sky. I was very happy to notice that the movie doesn’t forget it’s a comedy during the action scenes, as sometimes happens. All in all, the movie certainly has charm, and I enjoyed it quite a bit!