Iron Sky review
|REVIEWS - MOVIES|
The crowd-funded Nazi sci-fi epic finally becomes available to zer masses...
Iron Sky is ludicrous, trashy, and downright offensive at times...and it joyfully delights in all these things to hilarious effect. For a taste of the Finnish film’s tone, one need only consult its tag-line, one of the greatest ever committed to a poster: “In 1945, Nazis went to the moon; in 2018, they’re coming back.”
If every gag in the film was as funny as that, we would have a masterpiece on our hands and it would be a tragedy that it’s only in cinemas for a week. As things stand though, it’s very funny but flawed. Likely available on DVD by the time you read this, it’s more than worth checking out, not least because the dodgy CGI and acting won’t seem quite so preposterous when downsized to a TV set.
So the year is 2018. Sarah Palin is in the Whitehouse and to boost her re-election chances she’s green-lighted a new moon mission complete with a genuine black person (tag-line on Times Square billboards: “Black to the moon!”).
The special effects opening of the moon-lander touching-down sets the standard: it’s hardly Avatar. But for a limited budget it’s perfectly passable; and at least when these characters speak they’re meant to be spouting nonsense.
Things soon go awry for the NASA crew when they discover a swastika-shaped fortress hidden in a valley. All are killed save black model James Washington (Christopher Kirby), who’s kidnapped and taken to zer leader in the form of Fuhrer Kortzfleisch (Udo Kier). Kortzfleisch has several big problems at his Nazi moon base: 40s technology which prevents him from returning to rule the earth, subordinate Klaus Adler angling for his job, and the fact everybody keeps saying “Heil Hitler!” instead of Heil Kortzfleisch. Admittedly, the Austrian did have alliteration on his side.
The first of these problems is solved by Washington’s mobile phone, however, which is enough to power a Nazi flying saucer and allow an away mission to the Earth, led by Adler, to retrieve more phones. Also on board is a now-white Washington, after Mengele-like experiments, and the film’s real star: Aryan blonde bombshell Renate Richter (Julia Dietze).
Richter is the base’s resident school-teacher, who’s been raised on a diet of The Great Dictator (but only the scene where Chaplin delightfully bounces the earth around) and passionately believes Nazis are and always have been caring and sharing leaders. Palin, in a neat joke, subsequently adopts Richter’s rhetoric for the presidential campaign – it feels only slightly to the right of most Republican speeches these days, after all.
All the while, Adler and Kortzfleisch scheme to unleash a meteor-blitzkrieg on the planet, and Washington tries desperately to warn the world that “moon Nazis are coming”.
“So you’re a former black model, now white hobo, who was kidnapped by Nazis on the moon?” says an NYPD detective, with the sigh of a man who’s heard far more outrageous stories.
The film culminates in a delightfully ropey space-battle betwixt Adler in the giant super-weapon Götterdämmerung (“he must have the smallest penis ever”) and an allied sci-fi fleet led by the USS George Bush. It emerges that every nation signed a treaty forbidding the creation of such forces, and everybody ignored it. (Except, in a nice touch by the film-makers, their native Finland, whose UN representative is baffled by everybody else’s flouting of international law.) Another great UN gag is the attempt by the North Korean dignitary to claim responsibility for the Nazi spacecraft, causing outrageous laughter in the other delegations.
Yes, many a gag misfires, and yes the Nazis are easy targets and we’ve heard variations on these jokes before. But you know what: they were downright ridiculous with their uniforms, anthems and unquestioning obedience, and I have absolutely no qualms at laughing at them again for it, particularly when the jibes are executed with such panache. Like when our heroine Richter kills a villain by tricking him into a deadly, electrified, fascist salute; or slips by some guards by utilising a button labelled “National Anthem; break glass for morale!”, causing all to patriotically ignore their posts and face the flag.
At other times, the film is staggeringly po-mo. This is epitomised in its own Downfall parody, where a female ad executive vents at her staff like Hitler in his bunker. That she subsequently goes on to become the US President’s special advisor and ultimately warrior woman in space (complete with classic Pam Grier hairdo and attitude) takes outright inter-textual weirdness about as far as it can possibly go...probably.
It all feels like the edifice will come tumbling down at any moment, but the sheer anarchic energy, balls-out subject matter, and quantity of great gags keep things rollicking along; a bit like The Producers without the songs. Do not watch it expecting to be enlightened, and indeed the film mostly loses its way whenever it attempts to be overly satirical about the modern world – but for 93 minutes of tacky fun, you won’t find many better films this year.
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