Iron Sky (2012)
May 23, 2012 2 Comments
It’s 2018, and the President of the United States (Stephanie Paul) has sent a black man to the moon as publicity for the upcoming election. Once there, James Washington (Christopher Kirby) is captured by Nazis that have been hiding out on the dark side of the moon since the end of World War II. With plans to reclaim Earth using their doomsday device, the dreaded Götterdämmerung, Commander Klaus Adler (Götz Otto) and school teacher Renate Richter (Julia Dietze) go in search of more “telephone computers” like Washington’s in order to power the machine. The President, delighted that she might start a war in her first term of office, tasks Vivian Wagner (Peta Sergeant) with securing victory against “the only enemies we’ve ever beaten”.
Opening as it does with a hastily corrected typo, it is immediately clear that director Timo Vuorensola’s Finish-German-Australian action/comedy/sci-fi isn’t under any false pretensions. As high-concept a movie as you are ever likely to see, Iron Sky is thankfully more Dr. Strangelove than it is Snakes on a Plane, for while it might be as mad as a box of, well, space Nazis, it smacks of a genuine love of B-movie cinema rather than some tiresome need to be post-modern or different. Boasting one of the decade’s best taglines (“In 1945 The Nazis Went To The Moon. In 2018 They Are Coming Back”), Iron Sky is an assured and deserved cult classic in the making.
It is a concept with surprising mileage, too, as the jokes and sight gags pepper the film’s 93 minute running time with startling consistency. With its low-budget Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow visuals to its scrappy acting and scatter-bomb script, Iron Sky uses its truly bonkers narrative to touch on everything from the size of old computers to the United States’ foreign policy. Most surprising of all, it must be said, are the film’s sterling production values. For a budget pieced together over a number of years, it stretches staggeringly far, particularly benefiting the film’s finale, as the combined forces of Earth take on the Nazi’s meteor-wielding space-Zeppelins. The resultant spectacle trumps Lockout (which costed over twice as much) and more than earns the film its one day release in cinemas.
Of the cast, Julia Dietze is undoubtedly the standout, her charmingly naive teacher a sweet and sturdy counter to the more uneven efforts of her male counterparts. Given the film’s strongest arc – from Nazi-by-default to humanity’s greatest hope (via Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator) – the film is routinely at its best when she is onscreen. Back on Earth, however, Stephanie Paul’s shouty proto-Palin and Peta Sergeant’s leather-clad femme fatale hit almost as many notes as they miss. Paul comes to life in the war room, her self-righteous command leading to many of the film’s funniest gags, while aboard the U.S.S. George W. Bush – faced with the towering Götterdämmerung - Sergeant slays with the line, “Heinrich Adler must have the smallest dick in the universe”.
It must be said, any satire is decidedly soft-core, and many might be disappointed by the film’s lack of bite. While it does take on U.S. and world politics (North Korea and Finland are at the business end of two beautiful jokes), it is with a wink wink, nudge nudge sense of humour that undermines much of Vuorensola weight. But considering the film cost less than $10 million to make (approximately 10% of which was fan-funded) and has been in production since 2006, it would be horribly unfair to say that such toil has been anything other than worthwhile. Iron Sky sounds great, looks even better and is extraordinarily fun to boot. Maybe don’t leave it so long next time, space Nazis.