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.
Olympus Has Fallen: international terrorists have seized a building of importance, are holding the resident workers hostage, and issuing fake demands – meanwhile a wise-cracking, off-duty, security guy is taking them out one-by-one, communicating to a black guy outside. Wait, is that not identical to Die Hard?! Yes! Yes it is – there’s even a scene where a villain meets the hero and pretends to be a good guy – come awn Hollywood. Must. Try. Harder. The initial hostile takeover of the White House is a 15 minute onslaught of bullets, blood, brains, explosions, headshots, slumping bodies, flying limbs, and shaky-cam R-rated mayhem. It feels like an intense level of any FPS war game. Most of the remaining fights/deaths are gory enough to be from a Tarantino flick. The film is also ridiculously patriotic: deliberately baiting the audience by reveling in the Korean’s destruction of the Washington monument, white house, the stars and stripes, and more generally ‘freedom’. Could have saved time by simply having the Koreans piss on a M*A*S*H DVD box set. Most scenes feel like green-screen / GCI, especially when cheap-ass looking gun turrets, helicopters, explosions and the bullet-ridden american flag appear. Despite all of these downfalls the action is big, loud and above average. Butler is entertaining and there’s a lot more laughs than your typical disaster film. Given that the real North Korea are kicking up a fuss at the moment, it’s also far more relevant than the Ruskies / Chinese standard baddies. Overall, Olympus has Fallen is a fairly entertaining Red-invasion B-Movie with A-budget and A-cast, however it also happens to be wrought with scenes, characters and twists you’ve seen a hundred times before.
The Front Line (a.k.a. Battle of Highlands): a lieutenant is sent to the front line to investigate potential betrayal and espionage among the South Korean army. The main plot point is as compelling as you could ask for in a War film: North and South Korea sacrificing over 50,000 soldiers to continually fight over one ‘strategic’ hill that would shape the border when the country is divided – control of the hill flipped between North/South over 30 times during the Korean War, it’s unbelievable. Interestingly, it’s politically neutral – there’s no ‘bad guys’ as both sides are painted as simply following the mad orders from above. The battle scenes are scarily realistic and intense, peaking in a brutal, heartbreaking, final 25 minutes, as the story takes one last turn. The performances are solid, soldiers come across as realistic & human, and are developed enough that you care about them – there’s more emotion than most war movies, although there are points where it’s tipped into manipulative melodrama. This also helps the impact of the toll of war on these guys; shell shock / injuries / senseless violence / limb-loss. The side-story about the box used to swap supplies is also a nice touch. There’s not much colour in the movie, grey, greens and white snow are about as bright as it gets, and there’s a hammy song repeated several times, but they’re minor complaints.The Front Line delivers everything required of a war picture, and can easily stand up there alongside Assembly as the best Asian War films I’ve seen.