Iron Sky: in 1945 a group of defeated Nazis fled to the moon, in 2018 they’re coming back to finish what the Fuhrer started! For a B-movie, the graphics and effects are superb: the Blu Ray looks delicious, although washed out in the colour department. Sets, costumes, machinery, and industrial / steampunk settings all look fantastic. Written as an open-source script (aided by the internets) the entire movie is tongue-in-cheek and absolutely rammed with gags, nice details and one-liners – loads of laughs to be had. It’s a bit of everything: political satire, comedy, invasion, sci-fi, exploitation, ‘Nazispoitation’ – the only things it really shies away from are (surprisingly) nudity and gore. You could say that the film’s biggest weakness is that it’s all over the place; but flip it around, there’s something for everyone in here. Cast-wise, everyone’s at the top-range of B-movie; with guys like ‘Stamper’ from Tomorrow Never Dies and Udo Kier going in to full-on scenery chewing baddie mode – what’s not to like?! Given that it’s about moon Nazis, there’s some taboo moments, covering everything from skull measurements to a kamikaze Japanese spaceship – most are subtle enough to be overlooked. Although Iron Sky was panned by mainstream critics, if – like me – you’ve sat through thousands of over-promising, under-delivering B-movies, you’ll understand why this is a top-tier cult / midnight movie. A fantastic space Nazi romp, great fun, and put a smile on my face for the duration.
Nazi base on the moon, obviously.
Dead Man’s Shoes: an on-edge soldier returns home to find that local thugs have been taking advantage of his disabled brother; revenge is definitely on the cards. The story’s powerful, harrowing, chilling and hard to watch in parts (mostly the flashbacks). First time round I thought Paddy stole the show but on re-watching, his brother (Kebbell) is equally fantastic; most of the antagonists are on top form too. The soundtrack fits perfectly, making the overall ambiance more effective, disturbing you as much as the brief bursts of violence. There are some beautiful moments of black comedy in the spraypaint and comedy car – but they’re only momentary distractions. The only downside is that it feels padded out in parts, with a very long opening and plenty of scenic shots – although it could be argued that it adds to the film’s character. As a thriller, Dead Man’s Shoe is top-notch, and punches way above its low-budget social micro-thriller status.
Chronicle: found footage sci-fi flick following three guys who become close friends when they inherit telekinetic/psychokinetic superpowers, and how it changes them. The first ~70 minutes are pretty sweet and the story’s built up well; with solid acting and slap-dash characterisation of three teenagers, who are surprisingly smart (and far more believable) when compared to those of other super-power films. You see them slowly discover and develop their strange new powers which is equally entertaining and fascinating – there’s a few good comedy moments. It’s somewhat disappointing that on the home stretch, one character becomes a ridiculous ‘baddie’ figure (at the mention of the phrase Apex Predator) and the ensuing smash-em-up action-fest feels gratuitous, quota-filling and budget-busting. A quick explanation into the cause of the powers – the hole in the ground – would have been nice, but it’s not a dealbreaker. Overall, Chronicle is a good idea, well executed, boasting smart effects, loads of product placement, feels refreshingly all-American, and in the end, it’s both interesting & watchable; making this a surprisingly mature directorial debut for Josh Trank, who I suspect we’ll be seeing much more of…
Monsters: a photographer has to deliver his boss’s daughter from central America back home to the US border, only problem is that the north of Mexico is now an alien infected zone. Yet another solid entry into the more believable area of the Sci-Fi section – alongside the likes of Primer, Children of Men, 2001, Moon, District 9, Running Man… Monsters is guerilla film-making at its smartest; every shot is framed perfectly and CGI’s sparingly used as the most is made of real people / locations / disasters / wrecks. The focus isn’t on big effects, but the atmosphere, which is probably the biggest reason why you can buy into the film. While the story’s pretty thin and basic, the chemistry between the on (and off) screen couple also sucks you right into their world. In saying that, for being the crux of the film the relationship angle is straight off-the-shelf; some poor bloke’s fiance is doubting their marriage when she meets a far more interesting guy – wonder how that will it turn out?! Everyone’s been banging on about how good Monsters is for the budget, big woop, a load of low and micro budget films have done well. The real inspiration that Gareth Edwards wrote, directed, filmed, edited and SFX’d an international hit off his own back. While this isn’t quite the full polished package it shows a lot of promise for a first time director. Can’t wait to see what he can deliver when the studios start throwing serious money at him.