Cornerhouse Digital Reporter Mark Slattery reviews Iron Sky
In 1945 Nazis sent a secret mission to the Dark Side of the moon. Surviving the fall of the Third Reich, they constructed a base – in the shape of a Swastika, obviously – away from the gaze of their Allied enemies and waited…
In 2018 there is a woman in the White House, one that looks and acts suspiciously like former Republican Vice President nominee Sarah Palin, and she needs to be re-elected. So what’s the best way to achieve this? Put a black man on the moon of course, because that will look good, right? But when the astronaut wanders too close to the Moon fortress, it grants the Nazi army the impetus to begin their return to Earth.
But are they coming in peace to share the benefits of the National Socialist Workers Party with a troubled world, or are they intent on world domination?
Iron Sky is a Finnish film that has been in production for six years. Originating in a dream of writer Jarmo Puskala, it developed into a project for him and director Timo Vuorensola. They toured the idea and sample effects around festivals, picking up funding and followers along the way and crowd sourcing 10% of the film’s budget from fan donations.
Given a modest budget of 7.5 million Euros, the film makers have done amazingly well: the special effects are comparable to a lot of bigger budget, 2nd tier studio releases. OK, there is a certain Ed Wood sheen to the Nazi craft during some of the battle scenes, but that just adds to the retro pastiche and the overall design is incredibly detailed.
The cast all perform adequately. Julia Dietze is the most centred character as the Nazi ‘Earthologist’ teacher Renate and she plays well opposite Gotz Otto, who grunts and stomps around the script as the leader of the Nazi forces, Klaus Adler. Stephanie Paul looks the part as the President, but doesn’t get enough good lines to really knock the parody home. Christopher Kirby has a similar problem as the black model/astronaut James Washington; he should be THE comedy character in the film but his scenes always fall a bit flat. Big-name Udo Kier drifts in and out of the plot hacking into the camera in more ways than one, but it’s Petra Sergeant’s OTT performance as the fashionista/campaign manager to the President that hits the right note; melodramatic, crazed and bringing just the right amount of B-movie brilliance to the part.
Between the sci-fi action and Nazi gags there’s a strong stream of social commentary running through the film which provides the most laughs. Both sides are held to ridicule: the short-sighted, racist and militaristic Nazis are portrayed in the same poor light as the self-centred, shallow, double-crossing Earth politicians. It’s one of these social critiques that represents the best and worst of the film perfectly; just like the President’s re-election campaign, it is more style over substance. Obviously, a lot of effort has been put into the effects and world designs but too many of the jokes fall short and the plot hovers unsurely between parody and screwball comedy.
In the end Iron Sky is more Mars Attacks! than Dr Strangelove, and only time will decide if the film becomes the cult classic it aspires to be. But there are just enough laughs and plenty of style to make seeing this film during the remainder of its limited release worth the effort.
Iron Sky returns to our screens from Fri 1 June for a week of limited screenings. Buy your tickets here.