Thursday, September 12, 2019


You can’t enjoy some sequels unless you’ve seen the original film that inspired them.  Finnish director Timo Vuorensola’s imaginative sci-fi, fantasy farce “Iron Sky: The Coming Race” (*** OUT OF ****), the follow-up to his earlier epic “Iron Sky” (2012), illustrates this maxim.  If you’ve never heard of “Iron Sky,” don’t be surprised.  Vuorensola’s original film made its greatest inroads into the American market with its home video release.  Coining less than $123 thousand at the box office, “Iron Sky” received a limited domestic release for a two-month period in only eight theaters.  Internationally, “Iron Sky” grossed $11.5 million, surpassing but not tripling its seven million Euros production budget.  The Asylum’s ridiculous mockbuster parody “Nazis from the Center of the Earth,” which would make Jules Verne cringe in anguish, skewered it with little success.  Since the sunset of World War Two, Nazis had been fodder for European zombie sagas, such as “Dead Snow” (2009) and “Dead Snow: Red Vs Dead” (2014) as well as “Outpost” (2008), “Outpost: Black Sun” (2012), and “Outpost: Rise of the Spetsnaz” (2013).  Not only is the $17 million budgeted “Iron Sky: The Coming Race” a sequel to “Iron Sky,” but it also qualifies as a prequel, since it takes us back to the Mesozoic Era: the Age of Dinosaurs.  Indeed, just as pungent with its witticisms as its predecessor, “Iron Sky 2” picks up the “Iron Sky” narrative thread and considerably expands it in different dimensions.  Timo Vuorensola doesn’t cover the same conflicts as he did in his hilarious original film that thumbed its nose at political correctitude.  A brief recap of “Iron Sky” shows the Sarah Palin-esque U.S. President (Stephanie Paul of “Crazy Love”) going toe-to-toe against the madcap Moon Nazis and triggering the nuclear annihilation of the Earth  This Armageddon forced the human race to abandon Earth.  Ironically, these fortunate survivors wind-up relocating on the dark side of the Moon, the same place where the Nazis had established their base 70 years after World War II!  
“Iron Sky: The Coming Race” occurs 20 years after the destruction of Earth.  If you saw the original, Nazi school mistress Richter (Julia Dietze of “Iron Sky”) and captured U.S. Astronaut James Washington (Christopher Kirby of “The Matrix Reloaded”) started out as enemies and then became lovers. They had a daughter, Obianaju 'Obi' Washington (Lara Rossi of “Robin Hood”), and she has grown up to serve as a jack-of-all-trades at Neomenia, the former Nazi moon base station.  Sadly, Götz Otto could not reprise his role as the second Führer, because he kicked the bucket in the original “Iron Sky.”  Nevertheless, Wolfgang Kortzfleisch (Udo Kier of “Melancholia”), who took an awful beating from Otto, returns from the dead in one of the film’s several surprises. Obi’s wizened mother Renate governs life on Neomenia where Nazis no longer rule. Meanwhile, Obi struggles to maintain the deteriorating moon base facilities against the ever-present threat of moon quakes. Watching her scramble about the grungy, industrial factory interiors with breathless abandon to tackle problems establishes Obi as a heroine who refuses to wait for problems to repair themselves. Basically, Neomenia has degenerated into a ghetto because of overpopulation and a shortage of supplies.  Were things not complicated enough, a Russian spaceship blunders in from out of nowhere, and Renate must contend with asylum seekers.  Initially, Renata had decided to obliterate the spacecraft.  Obi thwarted this atrocity by shutting down Neomenia’s weapons system.  Later, she takes a romantic interest in the handsome but goofy Russian pilot, Sasha (Vladimir Burlakov of “Lost in Siberia”), because she argues that humanity must migrate to Mars. A cannibalized space shuttle offers their only avenue of salvation. Along the way, Vuorensola gives us time off from the doomsday prospect, so Obi and Sasha can flirt with each other.  Later, Obi collides with the treacherous Kortzfleisch, and he tells her about a fantastic element at the center of the Earth that will save mankind and provide endless fuel for the space shuttle.
The lightweight humor in “Iron Sky: The Coming Race” will either get you to howl hoarsely or grin at its skewered ingenuity.  The lookalike Sarah Palin president, which was a great sight gag in “Iron Sky,” is still a hoot to behold.  She spent most of her time in “Iron Sky” on a treadmill, but here she mutates into a monster with other infamous demagogues, such as Stalin, Hitler, and Idi Amin. One cheeky scene shows all of these dastards arranged around an oblong table in a tableau that imitates Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci’s renowned late 15th-century mural painting of "The Last Supper." Tongue-in-cheek humor lurks in every frame.  Timo Vuorensola is a gifted visual storyteller with an impeccable sense of pacing and pictorial composition. Like “Iron Sky,” “Iron Sky 2” doesn’t wear out its welcome at 90 agile minutes.  The larger-than-life shenanigans are nimble, flavorful, but sometimes surprisingly violent.  Hitler straddles a T-Rex like a cowboy at a rodeo, and the beast gobbles up the body of a man in its gigantic jaws.  Happily, his demise is bloodless.  Vuorensola and company borrow from other blockbusters, including a Hans Solo type Russian pilot as well as a harrowing “Raiders of the Lost Ark” cliffhanger caper.  A gigantic molten boulder tumbles after our heroes as they struggle to control chariots drawn by rampaging Triceratops dinosaurs! Fortunately, the CGI imagery passes muster, just don’t bother to freeze-frame the images. Clearly, Vuorensola conjured up some picturesque ideas that his crowd-funded budget couldn’t accommodate. 
The warped but inspired artistry of the “Iron Sky” epics is Hollywood didn’t forge them.  The original movie’s Nazi plot isn’t the kind of comic material Hollywood would have sunk multi-millions into for a movie that “culminated in Armageddon.”  These two Finnish satires provide refreshing but audacious commentary.  Incredibly enough, while “Iron Sky: The Coming Race” was awaiting home video release, director Timo Vuorensola had already embarked on a third installment in the franchise: “Iron Sky: The Ark” with a release date set for 2020!

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