If you have been conscious and on social media for the last few years, you have probably heard of Iron Sky. This Finnish sci-fi comedy began production back in 2006. A teaser trailer selling the film’s delightfully un-PC concept was taken to the 2008 Cannes Film Festival and used as a calling card to drum up investment for a full length feature. The concept is simple, in 1945 the Nazis went to the moon, in 2018 they come back! This was enticing enough to bring in financial backing from Australia. The production also cleverly used the internet and social media to create buzz and a sense of participation with film fans through the use of the online collaborative film platform Wreckamovie.
In 2009 cast members were announced, along with the participation of the legendary Slovenian industrial music group Laibach on the film’s score. At the end of 2010 filming began in earnest, post production beginning in February 2011 with the film premiering at traditionally stuffy Berlin Film Festival in February 2012.
Iron Sky opens with a US mission landing on the moon. The mission serves no scientific purpose except to bolster the approval ratings of an incumbent President with more than a passing resemblance to Sarah Palin. When the crew discover that the dark side of the moon hides a colony of Nazi’s who escaped the earth in 1945 this precipitates a full blown Nazi invasion of earth. It seems the Nazi’s had been hampered by their primitive 40’s computer technology, but an astronaut’s not-at-all-like-an-iPhone smart phone finally provides them with the computing power to operate their ultimate weapon (Apple seems to have been reluctant to pursue product placement in this film for some reason).
Iron Sky is essentially a satirical film, with a similar tone to Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Team America. However topical satire needs to strike quickly and the protracted production history of Iron Sky leaves it looking several years out of date. Sarah Palin has already been consigned to the dustbin of history, like a YouTube video shot by someone wearing Croc shoes on a Flipcam of an Emo kid huffing Mentos and Coke. Apple products are as popular as ever, but South Park did it’s Human Centipad episode in back in April 2011. Really the target should be some unholy alliance of Rick Santorum, Angry Birds and the Kardashians (and even that will be old hat between my typing it, and this review being published). This is a film that really needed to come out two years ago.
However, never let it be said that there is no comedy potential in Nazis from the moon. Iron Sky may essentially be an extended comedy skit of few jokes stretched out over 90 minutes, but it does still manage to tickle the funny bone to moderate effect. Most of the gags are as mouldy as the stuffed polar bear seen in the Oval Office. I did genuinely like one involving Charlie Chaplin’s film The Great Dictator even if the punch line stretches credulity. Admittedly complaining about suspension of disbelief in a film about lunar fascists seems futile.
The comedy is uneven at best then, but fans of trash cinema will still find things to enjoy here. For one thing the movie has a consistent level of imagination and ambition, that even if not always best realised, is at least still imagination and ambition. These are both qualities that have been sorely lacking in trashy B movies of the Asylum and SyFy ilk (although I’m sure Asylum must have a space Nazis film in the works). The cast attack their roles with relish, giving broad performances of the type seen in many an Ed Wood film. Here of course they are done with a wink and a tip of the hat. Especially good is Julia Dietze as a sexy Nazi schoolteacher who serves as the film’s heroine alongside a heroic black American model (Christopher Kirby) who has been turned Aryan by her mad scientists father (don’t ask).
The special effects are variable, but never less than adequate and often genuinely impressive. But what is undeniably great is the films production design. The Nazi moon-base is a marvel of valves, arc-lights, and huge grinding gears. The spaceship designs an imaginative mix of fifties science fiction and World War 2 reality. And say what you like, the bad guys do have the best uniforms. The best thing in the whole film however is Laibach’s cod-Wagnerian score, which is ridiculously pompous and often thunders like a squadron of screaming Valkyries over the most innocuous of dialogue scenes.
This is an extremely goofy film, as a political satire it is no-where near a sharp as Paul Verhoevan’s Starship Troopers which made quasi-Nazi’s the good guys. As a sci-fi spoof it isn’t in the same class as Galaxy Quest. But as a Nazis from the moon movie it’s the only one, so it will have to do. Yes it’s not as good as it promised to be from the internet campaign, but it did entertain me for 90 minutes. Also it has Udo Kier as the Führer, which is worth a half a star alone.