When Nazis that have been hiding in a secret base on the moon since the end of WWII start trouble and begin a war, silliness ensues in this satirical science fiction comedy.
Iron Sky is a 2012 Finnish-German-Australian comic science fiction action film directed by Timo Vuorensola and written by Johanna Sinisalo and Michael Kalesniko. It tells the story of a group of Nazi Germans who, having been defeated in 1945, fled to the Moon, where they built a space fleet to return in 2018 with a goal of conquering Earth.
When I think of this film, silly is the first word that comes to mind; it is composed of a heap of silly notions that add up to an only sometimes amusing film that tells a story that begins on the moon. It is a very camp, very tongue-in-cheek satire meant to be amusing, that starts with a mission of space exploration launched by the United States in an alternate universe led by a woman president that bears a strong resemblance to Sarah Palin.
Iron Sky does have some funny moments, and it features wall-to-wall silliness. It almost succeeds as a satire and comedy by the sheer volume of notions it depicts. Unorthodox in its approach, it was not well-received by critics and a lot of genre fans, but the director’s cut is not bad by any standards, even if it is sometimes in bad taste. It has the look of a classic 50’s B movie which for me, added to its appeal.
On the con side, it fails at an attempt at racial humor when a black male model, James Washington, is made part of a manned moon flight done as a publicity stunt to help boost votes for the president. He is remarkably under qualified for the job, and is captured by the space Nazis and experimented on, to make him a symbol of their supremacy, by attempting to turn him into a goose-stepping white version of his former self. The character is heavily stereotyped, to the degree it is a little offensive. This attempt at humor simply doesn’t work, and the film would have been better without its inclusion.
Another thing about this movie is it relies too heavily on worn out Nazi movie tropes, and other over-the-top-exaggerations as ammunition for its jokes. The crazy Nazi scientist, the drama queen Nazi leader, the gun happy and somewhat psychotic surrogate Palin, they are all here, and only occasionally work to lift the film out of the mediocre results obtained by the barrage of bad jokes the movie attempts to use to sell itself.
Iron Sky is not all bad though, one of its strengths is the cheesy practical effects the film employs. It intentionally makes itself a reminder of the B-rated science fiction films of the 50’s and does a good job at being an oddball tribute to those films. The models and sets are a real delight. The Nazi flying saucers, for example, are great in their ponderous post-industrial design, and the Nazi mothership, shaped like a giant flying swastika is pretty darn funny in its absurdity. Visually the film is a fun and entertaining production.
The cast is not all bad either; it includes Udo Kier, who has played Nazis so often in movies and on TV he may as well be a card-carrying member of that infamous political party. Julia Dietze adds a nice touch to the film as the sexy and dedicated little Liebchen who serves as a school teacher in the Nazi’s moon base while dealing with her chauvinistic male counterparts. I admit also enjoying the over-the-top caricature of the very Sarah Palin like Stephanie Paul as the President of the United States.
Iron Sky makes no pretense at being anything other than what it is. When for example the United Nations space fleet is sent to attack the Nazi moon base it only takes a few minutes to launch the fleet and only a few minutes more to arrive at the moon.
I cannot recommend this as a good movie, but it does marginally succeed as a goof. It earns points for being unique. While admittedly it does not succeed as a comedy overall it does have some amusing moments. It would make excellent ammunition for a show along the lines of MST3K, or just as a way to pass a little time when you are in the mood for something silly.