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Review Round-Up: “Bottom Of The 9th” And “Iron Sky: The Coming Race”

Ladies and gentlemen, as the weekend washes over you (and I hope you’re keeping cool), we are back with the review round-up. Yes, in order to cover a couple of new titles arriving in theaters on a limited basis, we’re combining them into one post. Today, we’ll again be briefly discussing two particular films, both of which are quite different from each other (a pattern with these round-ups, as you’ve probably noticed by now). The movies in question are the sports drama Bottom of the 9th, as well as the science fiction comedy Iron Sky: The Coming Race. Both of these flicks potentially offer up something a bit different and may or may not be worth your time this weekend. That question, in particular, is something I’ll again attempt to answer right now, so let us dive in!

Bottom of the 9th

I wish there were more baseball movies in the world. The sport may be slowly paced, but it has inherent drama like no other. Only sporadically has cinema captured it at its best, but the possibilities are still there. A new baseball drama in Bottom of the 9th hopes to grab at greatness, and even if it misses that mark, a compelling lead performance and some real heart helps to make it a solid two hours in the company of the national pastime. As far as sports flicks go, this is a decently good one. For a baseball analogy: even if it’s not a home run, it’s a solid base hit up the middle…

The film follows a former top baseball prospect in Sonny Stano (Joe Manganiello) as he emerges from prison after a seventeen year jail sentence. At the cusp of reaching the big leagues, Sonny killed a guy who egged him on, ruining a promising career. Now back in his old neighborhood in the Bronx, he’s trying to put his life back together. Some of his old neighbors want to help, some want to see him dead, and one, in Angela Ramirez (Sofía Vergara) is a former flame who represents a potential second chance. Then, a minor league coach (Michael Rispoli) gives Sonny a chance to get back into baseball. Hesitant at first, he slowly warms back up to the game, eventually moving from coaching to a shot at playing once again. As he pursues that dream, he tries to keep his life together, even as some would like to see him go down. Raymond De Felitta directs a script by Robert Bruzio. Rounding out the cast are Denis O’Hare, Vincent Pastore, and Burt Young, among others.

Joe Manganiello gets a nice showcase here, believably portraying a once can’t miss baseball prospect. With his imposing figure and quiet presence, he looks the part, and more importantly, feels like someone with baseball and prison in their blood. Even when the script goes a bit over the top at times or gets too dramatic, Manganiello keeps his head above water. Rarely given a starring role, he makes sure to give this his all. Director Raymond De Felitta and scribe Robert Bruzio indulge in melodrama, but their star keeps things grounded. Manganiello is the reason why the flick ultimately is able to succeed.

Bottom of the 9th can be a bit ridiculous at times (there’s a player on the team named Thor Digiorno), but it has a strong central performance and a winning heart at its core. The movie has its flaws, but Manganiello helps to execute De Felitta’s vision in such a way that it’s not hard to recommend this one. The stakes are low, mind you, but there’s a sense of victory at the film’s conclusion. If you’re a baseball fan, and more importantly, if you’re a fan of underdog tales, Bottom of the 9th is for you. It won’t let you down.

Iron Sky: The Coming Race

It’s hard to be ambitious on a budget. High concept can work with limited means, but not when extensive visual effects are involved. However, that’s the least of the problems with Iron Sky: The Coming Race, a science fiction action comedy that never quite knows what to do with itself. The first installment, Iron Sky, wasn’t particularly well done, but it had a novel concept. Here, it’s just extended well beyond where anyone can realistically care about it. A misfire across the board, it doesn’t even wind up being fun in a “so bad it’s good” way. It’s just a chore and bad all around.

The movie is a sequel to Iron Sky, in which it was revealed that Nazis set up a secret base on the dark side of the moon back in 1945. They hid out until 2018, when they staged a brash mission to return to power, culminating in potential nuclear armageddon on Earth. Here, we pick up two decades later, where that war has left their Nazi base as the last bastion of humanity. Humans like Obianaju ‘Obi’ Washington (Lara Rossi) are called to travel back to the planet, going into the Hollow Earth, in order to potentially save the future. Not only are Nazis still involved, but Soviets show up here, as well as dinosaurs, monsters, and an ancient shapeshifting race of reptilians called the Vril. Suffice it to say, things get weird. Plus, it all sets up for another installment in the now franchise, unlikely as that might be. Timo Vuorensola co-writes with Dalan Musson and directs. Besides Rossi, the cast consists of Vladimir Burlakov, Kit Dale, Julia Dietze, Tom Green, Udo Kier, Stephanie Paul, and others.

As much as this premise could make for a good time, it’s largely a bore and a mess. The acting is poor, the visual effects are spotty at best, and the story is dumb as rocks. That could still have turned out to be fun, but this was never going to be The Room or Troll 2. Instead, it thinks it’s way more clever than it actually is. Sure, making the moon base have Jobsism (worshipping Steve Jobs) the official religion is cute, but the joke wears thin fast, well before anything of note comes from it. That goes for all elements here, as the flick just goes further and further off the rails.

Iron Sky: The Coming Race is more suited to late night cable than theatrical release. Even on VOD, it’s pushing it. Not quite silly or weird enough to be a cult classic in the making, it mostly just ends up an unfunny waste of time. The occasional moment allows one to crack a smile, but it’s honestly closer to just a pity grin. Vuorensola and company deserve credit for going to the fans and successfully keeping their series afloat, but those who gave their hard earned money deserve better than this. No matter high you slice it, the film is just poorly done…

Both of these films are in theaters and On Demand now!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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