Blade: The Iron Cross Review: Short But Not So Sweet
This confusing, messy slog of a film thankfully won't take up too much of your hard-earned free time.
By M.T. Bates
The Puppet Master timeline is quite a muddled mess of insanity, and the extremely short spinoff feature, Blade: The Iron Cross, really doesn’t help clear anything up. In fact, this movie really just makes things worse in that sense, which after 14 films is to be expected, with very little in place to redeem it. The previous Puppet Master entry, The Littlest Reich, really is its own movie in its own timeline, so don’t look for connections here. Consider this film yet another prequel (and there are many) to the original, but there are callbacks to previous films dating all the way back to the chronologically first movie, Retro.
Before we tunnel down this rabbit hole and try to break down the story, let’s look at the other aspects of this film. The acting ranges from impressive to there being parts where you are pretty sure they aren’t even trying. It’s easy to be taken out of the film in some scenes just with how bad some of the acting is. Thankfully, the returning Elisa Ivanov (played by Tania Fox) is a highlight and standout. Roy Abramsohn also plays mad “engineer” Erich Hauser, because if there was something these movies were missing, it was… zombies? We will get into that later.
The score and setting of the film are both pedestrian. Samples of the iconic theme can be heard throughout the film, but they never really expand on it. On the other hand, the setting looks like something out of a bad indie film, which also kind of makes sense since the movie only clocks in at around 70 minutes. The special effects leave a lot to be desired too, with cheesy CGI and a weird penchant for looping awful sound bites and screams. You’ll be cringing a lot.
Now, let’s just get into this mess of a story featuring zombies, psychics, bio-energy, death rays, and Re-Animator-style serum, just to pick a few examples. This movie is bonkers, but consistent in the sense that it further expands on the insanity this franchise is known for. I had originally hoped for a more Blade-centric film since, you know, that is the title of the film, but believe it or not he is barely in it, and nothing is revealed about his past. In fact, he is hardly a factor until the last 20 minutes. The only reason why the movie is titled the way it is would be because he is the only active puppet in the movie. The others are shown ever so briefly and then not again.
Psychics have been a staple of this series since the very beginning so that is to be expected, but nearly everything else was thrown into this witch’s brew to… well, I don’t know why. I don’t know why anything is anything in this movie. So, zombies that are reanimated via some green serum… but then are reanimated and controlled via bio-energy, which is then fashioned into a death ray? They actually use the term “death ray” multiple times. I feel like they started writing one idea down before getting sidetracked and writing a new idea into the script. This had to have happened more than a few times.
I am all for Nazi movies in which they dive into the occult and perform crazy experiments, and in that regard I will recommend Frankenstein’s Army, but this particular plot point was so convoluted. Essentially, they want to make a zombie army, but the zombies aren’t reliable or controllable. No problem, 10 minutes of zero story and that problem is fixed, but now they need to be able to create these zombies widescale, which is where the death ray comes in. The death ray then is just a radio tower that releases some kind of wave frequency that kill people, but can be adjusted to a different wave frequency to match a bio-energy signature to resurrect them as zombies. Drugs were most certainly plentiful during this writing process.
So what does all of that have to do with Toulon and the puppets? Well, the explanation is that the serum was a creation of his to bring the puppets to life (a call back to Axis of Evil, I think), even though Retro shows that it was an Egyptian spell that was taught to him that gave the puppets life. Apparently the Scroll of Osiris somehow plays a part in all of this madness. Oh, did I forget to mention that earlier?
Look, this isn’t a coherent review because this isn’t a coherent movie. It jumps all over the place and things just randomly happen because, well, something needed to happen to progress the story. The plot is awful, the kills and gore are very weak, and the amount of time we get with Blade is a disappointment. Plus, the ending is, to put it bluntly, stupid.
I am well aware that finding any semblance of reason in these films is a daunting task, but if they won’t even try in that aspect, at least make the movie fun. Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich was by far one of the most fun movies I have watched in the last 5 years. On the contrary, this one was a chore that mercifully took only a little over an hour to endure. When your movie’s strong point is its short running time, you know you've got yourself a stinker.
Only 70 minutes of your life will be sapped away by this flick.
Even considering its short runtime, this movie is a confusing, messy slog with virtually no redeeming factors for a fan of the franchise to enjoy.
It is a shame Full Moon decided to revisit the original Puppet Master timeline and make no attempt at fixing it in the process. As a fan of the original set of films, which I consider to be the first 5 installments, the franchise really deserves better. The Littlest Reich was a much-needed breath of fresh air and somehow this disaster of a film followed it. There is nothing to gain from wasting your time with this flick, even for longtime fans of the franchise.
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