IRON SKY – The Review
Every once in a while, a film is released with such a ludicrous premise that you simply have to take note and IRON SKY is such a film. It is set at the end of WWII and follows various high-ranking Nazi officials setting up a well-equipped (and very smartly polished and decked-out) base on the moon. Jump forward to 2018 where the President of the United States (Stephanie Paul), a Sarah Palin lookalike, is up for re-election and to help her campaign, has NASA send leaves astronaut/ male model James Washington (the charismatic and amusing Christopher Kirby) NASA to the moon for their first landing in decades (her campaign poster reads: ‘Black to Space: Yes She Can’). This leaves Washington at the mercy of the followers of the so called ‘Fourth Reich’. The Nazi brass, including Moon Fuehrer Wolfgang Kortzfleiche (cult legend Udo Kier), and his protoge-turned-rival Klaus Adler (Gatz Otto) are planning an invasion of Earth. Interpreting the spaceman’s surprise visit as an act of aggression, they prepare their forces for attack. He sets off to find the mobile phone or MP3 player (in a running gag he’s confuses them) which will help power the Gotterdammerung, a giant spaceship, into orbit. Along for the ride is Renate (Julia Dietze), a female officer, who is increasingly worried by Adler’s violent theology. Back on Earth, the President’s scheming press agent (Peta Sergeant) learns of the imminent invasion but sees it as the election-winning opportunity they’ve been waiting for and soon all hell breaks loose.
Director Timo Vuorensola’s Finnish-German-Australian science fiction comedy, six years in the making, represents a collaborative approach from conception to marketing. IRON SKY milked the Internet for all it’s worth, building up a community of artists and fans who got involved one way or another including the kicking in of much of the film’s funding (these deep-pocket collaborators are listed in the credits). In a happy ending for dreamers everywhere, the result is a genuine success story for what is, after all, a small movie with a tighter-than-tight budget. But while the budget was necessarily low, the filmmaker’s ambition is unmistakably high and IRON SKY looks like a film that cost many many times its actual budget. If you enjoy your sci-fi with some satire and count BRAZIL, DR. STRANGELOVE, and MARS ATTACKS among your faves, IRON SKY will be right up your alley.
IRON SKY is at its heart about little more than telling an outrageous story in a distinctly trashy and silly way, but it works because it’s audacious and over-the-top in terms of its irreverence and political satire. It could have been a huge mess (and some may argue it is) but Vuoresola keeps the tone at just the right absurd pitch and it’s certainly stunning to look at. The world of the ‘Moon Nazi’ is wonderfully visualized in its heavy, steel-dominated early modern industrialism. The detailed steam punk art design at times (particularly the Swastika-shaped Moon base) looks similar to SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW, but considering the relatively low budget, the effects are impressive. The legendary Slovenian industrial music group Laibach provides the film’s epic score and even goofs on some STAR WARS riffs, something a studio film may not have gotten away with. On the downside, most of the acting is atrocious and there are so many ideas and concepts thrown in that many become undercooked. Much of the political satire is creaky and ham-handed and the humor is overly broad. IRON SKY really falters in the second act when the action moves to Earth. The weakness of the script, a self-aware B-movie hodgepodge, becomes more apparent but the movie is saved by a consistent level of imagination and ambition and quickly recovers for an explosive, rousing grand finale which satisfies expectations. And any movie with Udo Kier as the Fuehrer is a must-see.
3 1/2 of 5 Stars
IRON SKY plays in St. Louis this weekend at midnights only at Landmark’s Tivoli Theater