Movie Review: Iron Sky (2012)

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There’s nothing quite like a film that delivers on a premise, and Iron Sky, a Finnish-German-Australian film directed by Timo Vuorensola, does this in spades. When I first heard that the “Nazis from the Moon” film was going to be playing a one-night-only screening in Bloomington, IN, care of the Dark Carnival Film Fest and Tugg.com, I jumped at the chance to see it, and I was definitely not disappointed. The film, a science-fiction/action/satire, gained interest with a teaser trailer that debuted at Cannes in 2008, and was then made via Wreck–a-Movie, a collaborative filmmaking platform that allows filmmakers to make their films within a broad community – part of a new movement called “participatory cinema.” Needless to say, the pre-production and release of the film were unique.

But the film, man, how was the film? First of all, I’ve already said “Nazis on the Moon,” and that’s exactly how the film was  – AWESOME. The plot breaks down as such:  toward the end of World War II, the Nazis were able to covertly send a space shuttle to the Moon. For seventy-three years, they had been colonizing the dark side of the Moon, creating spaceships, including a massive warship named the Götterdämmerung (that’s German for “Twilight of the Gods,” and also the name of the 4th cycle of Wagner’s massive opera Der Ring des Nibelungen, for nerds like me) and preparing to invade Earth. The Nazis’ plans are interrupted, however, when discovered by African-American astronaut James Washington (Christopher Kirby), a former model who was turned into an astronaut by the current President’s “Black to the Moon” initiative. Taken prisoners by the Nazis, led by Mond Führer Wolfgang Kortzfleisch (Udo Kier) and commander Klaus Adler (Götz Otto), Washington’s skin is dyed Caucasian and he is sent back to Earth, along with Adler and his finance, teacher Renate Richter (an utterly charming and beautiful Julia Dietze) to acquire iOS devices, which are needed to power the Götterdämmerung and allow the Nazis to conquer Earth. While on Earth, Adler reveals his plans to overthrow Kortzfleisch and become the new Mond Führer. Washington escapes, but is dismissed as crazy and delusional when he tries to warn the world – as he is now white, destitute, and half-crazed. Adler and Richter are initially exploited by Presidential aide Vivian Wagner (Peta Sergeant), who co-opts their Nazi/Socialist propaganda style for the ailing re-election campaign of the sitting U.S. President (Stephanie Paul, as an obvious-but-unnamed Sarah Palin). Mond Führer Kortzfleish comes to Earth, finally aware of Adler’s treachery, but is too late – Adler kills Kortzfleish and returns to the Moon with the technology to begin the invasion of Earth. Washington convinces Renate of the error of her Nazi ways, and the two embark to return to the Moon to stop the Nazis’ plan, while on Earth, the President gathers the United Nations together to face off against the threat of the Moon Nazis.

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Julia Dietze as “Renate Richter”

Yes, that’s a lot of plot, especially since the premise is basically just “Nazis from the moon invade Earth,” but the brilliance of Iron Sky is in the fact that the film plays on two very different levels. On one hand, the film is a very broad comedy, focusing on the ridiculous exploits of James Washington and the outrageous situations:  Nazis building their space station and ships with 1940’s technology, Renate’s blind devotion to Nazism as a benevolent force of good, and, in perhaps my favorite bit of casting, Udo Kier as a silly “Moon-Führer.” I mean, c’mon, do you really need anything more than that? The “Sarah Palin” President is another source of broad humor, showing how silly a Palin White House could actually be. On the other hand, the film stands as a smart parody of how the United States is viewed by the rest of the world, and the surprise of the melancholic mood evoked by the images of the closing credits actually offers a sobering view of how a third world war could very well end. Now, I’m not saying that Iron Sky is going to be the most important film of the year. The film is very silly and never takes itself too seriously, but that silliness is delivered in an intelligent way (and may hit a little too close to home to American audiences without a sense of humor about themselves).

The cast of Iron Sky is excellent across the board, with the best performances coming from the film’s leads, Christopher Kirby and Julia Dietze (James Washington and Renate Richter). Kirby’s delivery is excellent for this film, and Dietze’s Renate makes for a hilariously upbeat Nazi. Götz Otto, as the villainous Klaus Adler, dominates the scenes he’s in with the proper mix of menace and silliness, and Stephanie Paul’s performance, as the Sarah-Palin-esque President, is pitch perfect. Rounding out the cast is the always-amazing Udo Kier as the Mond Führer Kortzfleish, and, as he does in most of his performances, knocks this role out of the ballpark with a nice blend of villainy and camp.

Iron Sky is definitely not for everyone, and the film is definitely not perfect. Those looking for a serious action film need to keep looking, as Iron Sky is much more a broad comedy with some silly/snarky/relevant political subtext woven throughout. I’m not sure any film containing a U.S. space warship called the U.S.S. George W. Bush and an all-out fistfight in the middle of the U.N. could be anything BUT silly, yet for those with a sense of humor about the United States’ role in world diplomacy, Iron Sky offers many laughs. The acting is excellent, the special effects work was surprisingly wonderful for this type of film, and the story itself, while full of the usual plot holes found in this type of film, moves along at a brisk pace. Cross of Iron this ain’t, but if you’re looking for a fun flick filled with space Nazis, Iron Sky is probably your best bet this year.

Rating: 3/5 ★★★☆☆ 

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About Nathan_E

Nathan Erdel is a screenwriter. He wrote Headless and some other stuff. He likes beer, metal, pizza, and horror. He has three cats and one wife.

Other posts in this series:

  1. Movie Review: Iron Sky (2012) (September 19, 2012)
  2. Ultimate Zombie Warrior coming to Southern Indiana! (May 21, 2012)
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