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February 14, 2012

Review: Iron Sky Sucks, Lame Sarah Palin Gags Are Off-Script In A Silly Movie About Space Nazis

As I pimped the concept, I also have to warn you away from the actual product.

I didn't see it, but these guys did.

While the absurdity is piled medium high, and a handful of the gags work beautifully, the movie gets so weighed down by a lost focus and its attempted poor manís political theater that the jokes get fewer, farther between, and facile.

It should have been a huge tip off when the President of 2018 is a Sarah Palin mock-off (Stephanie Paul) that the movieís ďrelevantĒ comedy would be too easy and too blunt. Itís so on the nose that they should have gotten a mortgage on the left nostril.

...

When itís strident political commentary, the production comes off like a small child repeating a joke it heard on the nightly news. Plus, that small child just happens to have written the joke on a hammer and is swinging it repeatedly at your face.


...

Beyond getting stuck on a tired, one-note joke for its second half, the movie is plagued by being average. It never swings for the fences. Had it been offensively bad, it might still have been entertaining. As it stands, itís so bland that shrugging seems like it would be giving it too much credit.

...

Frankly, there arenít enough jokes and there arenít enough jokes that work. If there were a stronger plot, it could take some of the burden, but it doesnít grow much beyond ďThere are Nazis on the moon, and they are going to attack.Ē At the same time, even with the high concept, the damned thing is overly complicated. It shifts from one group of characters to the next, trying hard to find which one is consistently funny, and no one is to be found.

...

Whatís worse is the completely misguided swerve into intelligent humor. The script just isnít smart enough for it, and cramming lame political snipes into a movie thatís already established itself as throwaway zany fun with an army that goose steps in low gravity makes it even more obvious that the joke writers didnít get their own punchlines. The clown shouldnít try high satire, especially if the clown isnít that funny to begin with.

Having not seen it, I'll take a guess.

The Left is so averse to war (at least wars waged by the West) they cannot even make a silly, absurdist movie about it, without attempting to show you that Both Sides Are Bad. Lest you get the Wrong Idea and their entertainment push you into a Warlike Militaristic Extremism.

Even in a movie about space Nazis, this is apparently a big concern.

So they just can't have a movie about Space Nazis; they need to show both sides as being absurd and dangerous, and hence they shoehorn this apparently flailing "humor" about a Palinesque president to show you that War Is Never The Answer.

If a movie wants an adult to like it, it should treat the audience like presumptive adults, and not endeavor to add Cautionary Tales to absurdist comedies just to make sure that no one Gets The Wrong Idea Here.

The left is big on People Thinking For Themselves.

In theory.

When it comes to actual permit such a thing, they get cold feet, and make sure the Moral is well and truly hammered home into your skull.

Thanks to @slublog.


Brief Review: Mission Impossible 4 (Ghost Protocol).

The reviews all say this is unexpectedly good.

The reviews are mostly wrong.

There is nothing exactly wrong with Ghost Protocol. It's not a bad movie.

Similar to my mini-review of Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, I'll say the same thing: It's a professional job. People showed up and got a check, and they mostly earned their checks.

But a professional job is not the same as an inspired one. There's just nothing of any special interest here. The villain is like the 70s Bond villains-- he just literally wants to destroy the world. He has a theory that extinction is a natural and vital part of evolution. Like Stromberg or Drax. He's not plausible, and he's barely ever on the screen, so he doesn't register as anything other than a Cardboard Menace.

Like other Mission: Impossible entries, the plot starts and stops as Cruise briefs us on the next objective, and quickie explanations are offered as to why interesting stunts must be performed. For the Dubai sequence: We need to break into the server, but we can't do it from the inside, just because. So, you have to go outside the building, 130 floors up.

This isn't super-objectionable. It's not the worst scripting problem you can imagine. But the story really doesn't proceed organically from one sequence to another (as it did in, say, Die Hard) but only via four Writers' Interventions.

And now we have to do this.

And now we have to do this.

And now we have to do this.

Eh. Not the smoothest scripting possible.

There's a ploy in this Dubai sequence, incidentally, that's very ham-handed and illogical. If you'll forgive my getting into the weeds of plot logic for a moment...

Basically, their initial planned ruse is to have a Courier meet an IMF agent pretending to be his Recipient, and have the Recipient meet an IMF agent pretending to be his Courier, so that both parties think the exchange has occurred, when in fact it hasn't, and then IMF walks off with the MacGuffin being delivered.

But Tom Cruise calls an audible, and insists the MacGuffin must actually be delivered from Courier to Recipient, and then they'll just follow the Recipient.

Fine. Except that for no good reason they then proceed with the ruse -- the false meeting con -- even though they could now just let it go forward, for real, because they're no longer intercepting the delivery at all. Now they're permitting the delivery, and following the parties afterwards.

But they go ahead with a complicated and dangerous ruse anyway (relying on the unlikely assumption that neither party knows what the other looks like) because I guess they think it's neat and they have to fill up fifteen minutes.

I don't pray at the Altar of Script Logic, and am willing to let things like this slide, but it's indicative of the Because The Writer Said So mode of plot evolution here.

There are a few neat tech bits-- they use a real-life-plausible Scrim and holograph-projecting camera to make a hallway appear empty to the guard watching it.

Honestly, though? A nuclear missile launch as the Big Threat, and a race to deliver the Abort Code?

Not really very original, is it?

The action is firmly bland. There's a neat-in-concept fight inside a mechanical parking facility, with cars being ferried up and down by robot action as villain and hero fight, but it's all a bit contrived, and feels more like Minority Report than Mission Impossible anyway.

To all the critics praising it-- seriously, you've overrated this. This is a very average spyjinks movie with no emotional arc or even much of a thrill-factor. I think you guys are just rooting for Brad Bird, to make sure he gets a shot at live-action cinema, after his good work on The Iron Giant and The Incredibles.

It's fine, but for people like me, who don't really love going to the movies, but would rather see it on DVD -- there's not much here that is compelling. I'm told the Dubai parts looked good on IMAX, but it's not in IMAX anymore (I saw it in normal projection) and there's no reason to rush out and see this in the cinema. DVD or HBO will do you just fine.

It's not bad. But it's not good, either. Two and a half stars.

If anyone hasn't seen it yet -- rent Mission: Impossible III instead, which is a surprisingly effective entry in the disappointingly dunderheaded series, with a truly malignant villain, and J.J. Abrams coaching a nearly-lifelike performance out of Tom Cruise.

Honestly, I think the positive buzz here is a combination of Brad Bird Boosterism plus genuine shock that an M:I movie could be good.

Which tells me that people didn't see M:I 3. M:I 3 was good. So to me, this wasn't "surprisingly good." This was a letdown.


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posted by Ace at 03:35 PM

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