Monday, April 23, 2012

Nazis at the Center of the Earth and Laughing in Disbelief: A Movie Review

*here be major spoilers. Honestly, see this film before reading this review. A lot of great surprises are ruined below.

Director: Joseph J. Lawson.

Writers: Paul Bales.

Cast: Dominique Swain, Jake Busey, Christopher Karl Johnson, and Lilan Bowden.

The Asylum is launching their latest film in Nazis at the Center of the Earth on DVD April 24th. This film production company loves to knock-off large blockbusters such as Transformers, The Terminator and disaster films in general. Their latest copy is the film found here. Writer Paul Bales and director Joseph J. Lawson are borrowing some plot points from Timo Vuorensola's Iron Sky.

In both films, the Third Reich is still threatening the modern world. And in this film, Joseph Mengele (Christopher Karl Johnson) is the architect of the German invasion. Hmmm strange, Mengele died in 1979. The inconsistencies continue, but Nazis at the Center of the Earth is an enjoyable film for being so ambitious and for offering a mechanized Hitler. All bow before the madness of another The Asylum production.

Some of that madness comes from the visual effects department at The Asylum. They are likely overworked as whole sets are created from computer generated imagery. Director Lawson has an extensive background in the visual effects department and he shows some of his tricks here. Yet, seeing entire environments, or vehicles or characters created by a program begins to breakdown the film's believability. CGI is like the cartoon of the modern film world; this style of filmmaking is cheap, which is great for the production company, and somewhat disconcerting for the viewer. Reality is exchanged for pixels to little effect.

The budget for this film was less than 200K; therefore, it is up to the actors to make the situations feel or appear real. For the most part they do an excellent job. Jake Busey as Adrian Reistad delivers a solid performance. Just watch that he does not stab you in the back like he does to many of the characters. His character shift was a surprise. Dominique Swain as Paige Morgan, a wolf in sheep's clothing, brings a great performance. She plays both sides of the fence until the satisfying finale. Just watch out when this character is waving a needle about. Someone is about to die. Other portrayals are excellent with Christopher Karl Johnson also deserving a mention. All of these actors do there best with green screen photography.

And that photography is ever changing as the story of Nazis at the Center of the Earth builds in speed. That story involves the remnants of the Third Reich living hundreds of miles below the world's surface. Here, they experiment with prolonging life and with military technology. They want to release a disease on the Earth, which will wipe out much of the population. A new kind of leprosy will bring the Third Reich's enemies to their knees. All that is needed for this plan to work are a few more scientists. Reistad brings his friends into the belly of the beast. Then, Wehrmacht zombie soldiers are loaded onto a giant UFO to begin a world invasion. Let the comparisons to Iron Sky continue.

The major flaws of Nazis at the Center of the Earth (CGI, green screens) have already been mentioned. The inconsistencies have also been touched on e.g. Mengele's death. Others continue. Hitler died in 1945 after being shot and burned. Yet, in this film, he is reborn in a mechanized suit. He is still overly proud and delusional at the same time. You would think after seeing Berlin fall once that he would have learned his lesson. But no, he is up to his same old tricks. All of these film elements create for a suitable B-movie feel, which is likely what the filmmakers were after.

As the credits roll a general feeling of enjoyment washed over this film critic. There are a lot of historical innacuracies involved in this film and plot holes. After all, how can a plane fly from Germany to Antarctica on a tank of gas? However, this is a The Asylum film where reality must be partially checked at the door. Instead of serious thought, this film requires a suspension of belief and an enjoyment of the moment.

If you approach the film with this lens, then a mech-like Hitler will create laughter. Shower scenes and sexuality will create horror. A flying NAZI spaceship will seem like regular fare compared to face peeling scientists and giant civilizations housed under the Earth's crust. Check your logical mind at the door and prepare for Nazis at the Center of the Earth to lift off and to lift you into a state of excitement. In the end, fans of B-movie like unbelievable situations even if the main characters have long settled in the dust. And other characters will settle in the dust before this entertaining 90 minutes is through.

Overall: 6.75 out of 10 (fun film, interesting plot twists, unexpected situations, lots of CGI - too much).

Nazis at the Center of the Earth at The Asylum:

The Film at The Asylum

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