Yep… this wee Catgirl has always believed that outside of Zombies, there really is only one other cinema menace worthy of goofy movie exploitation villainy that always satisfies… well… just about everybody. Those evil, nasty, thoroughly despicable Nazis. Sooooo darn evil. So obsessed with that notion of “world domination”….. And with such snazzy villainous costumes too. Even Darth Vader only wishes he had that much style and wicked panache. So…. would a certain goofy kitten ever think of missing any movie about an invasion of evil Nazis…. in honest-to-goodness flying saucers…. from the Moon? Are you kidding? 😉
Our synopsis? Well OK…. here goes: “In the last desperate days of World War II, a secret Nazi space program evaded destruction by fleeing to the Dark Side of the Moon. During 70 years of utter secrecy, the Nazis construct a gigantic space fortress with a massive armada of flying saucers.
When American astronaut James Washington (Christopher Kirby) puts down his Lunar Lander a bit too close to the secret Nazi base, the Moon Führer (Udo Kier) decides the glorious moment of retaking the Earth has arrived sooner than expected. The Fourth Reich must act! Two Nazi officers, ruthless Klaus Adler (Götz Otto) and idealistic Renate Richter (Julia Dietze), travel to Earth to prepare the invasion. When the Moon Nazi UFO armada darkens the skies, ready to strike at the unprepared Earth, every man, woman and nation alike, must re-evaluate their priorities.”
Ummmm? Anybody think we’re looking at timeless filmaking that we should alert the Academy Awards people to? Yeah…. I’m thinking we’re on the same page here Gentle Visitors… but dang it all…. it does look all stupid and fun. Grrrr…. OK, OK…. so we all know I just had to watch. I admit it…. But that does mean if you are intrigued and tempted, you could just listen to all the silly details from lil’ ol’ me before taking the plunge yourself. Yep, it’s time to “Read On”….
So…. your Favorite Catgirl’s been following this one for quite a while, for most of the 6 years that it actually took for director Timo Vuorensola to get his micro budgeted, fan funded film from vague dream to final reality. There were times many people thought it might never reach screens…. but it finally made it proving the doubters wrong. With all this… I kind of expected the resulting film to be a little rough around the edges… showing, I hoped, at least some enthusiasm and energy that gets missed in a lot of studio funded big blockbusters. Having finally seen it, I can report that it’s about 6 of one scenario… and about half a dozen of the other. There are plenty of good things in “Iron Sky”…. even some remarkable ones given the way it was made…. but it’s not all happy “beer and bratwursts” either, movie-wise.
Basically written as a thinly veiled parody piece about the essentially duplicitous nature of modern world politics, especially the idea of the threat of US economic and political world hegemony, it uses our villainous Nazi menace as a convenient means of bringing about that “New World Order” you always hear about from conspiracy theory nuts. It’s a neat idea…. and it could have real satirical possibility if handled deftly. Unfortunately, it’s not really that clever an effort. The messages contained within the plot are blatant and for the most part overdone, stripping them of any real power and most of the laughs I’d hoped for. Sigh….
Mind you…. the idea of the US presidency being in the hands of a Sarah Palin lookalike desperate to find a way to reinvigorate her chances for re-election by basically co-opting the entire National Socialist/ fascist PR approach to wooing the public is a potentially funny one. Mostly because in some weirdly insane way you can really sort of believe the Republican party could actually try such a silly tactic before a gullible and largely stupidly ignorant electorate. Failing that… there’s always the “flag waving ” option of battling the Space Nazi invasion to win support (Wartime presidents always get re-elected…just ask President Bush. 😉 )…. much as eventually becomes necessary once the Moon Nazis actually do invade at our film’s climax.
So… what is good about “Iron Sky”? Well… for one thing, it’s an amazingly polished looking film with very professional… even startling… SPX for such a shoestring film. The space stuff is all top notch…. and the CGI works extremely well to sell us on the idea of 1940’s super-science with it’s vacuum tubes and massively machined look. For the most part too, our acting works. Christopher Kirby as astronaut/ model James Washington is a likeable Hero put into circumstances waaaay over his head. Stephanie Paul’s role as the US President… never referred to by name, of course… is excellent as well. For this lil’ Catgirl, the standout part had to be reserved for our film’s unlikely heroine, Nazi schoolteacher and “Earth Expert”, Renata Richter as played by actress Julia Dietze. It would have been easy to make that role a simple stereotypical Nazi temptress…. but instead, she gets the juicy part of the naive True Believer in the cause of National Socialism who actually somehow doesn’t realize she’s one of the “Bad Guys”. Uneasy about her role as future bride-to-be to scheming Nazi wannabe Führer Kurt Adler (played by Götz Otto) and aching to show that women have real value in a male dominated Fourth Reich, it’s fun seeing her struggle against all the things that poke holes in everything she’s ever known and one by one show her that maybe…. just maybe… there’s some good reason why the Earth resisted the Nazi dream of world order all those years ago. She’s spunky and fun and despite it all you can’t help but like her…. darn it… and even if you want all the other Nazi’s dead, you kinda end up wanting her to find her dream of “world peace”… whatever it ends up being.
Now…. as to the comedy elements of the story. Ummmm… yeah. Now, there is always some measure of difficulty when using the Nazis in any story and have them be funny without also having that underlying feeling of uncomfortableness that only the most evil regime of mass murderers can evoke. That’s the biggest problem that I think “Iron Sky” suffers from… most of the jokes here just plain don’t work. It’s a shame… but that’s the way it plays out. Particularly bad was the entire bit about bleaching our black astronaut white …. meant to be funny and ludicrous, but coming across as being in fairly bad taste in a “minstrel show” sort of way. I think perhaps the best bit of humor in the whole film might be when our astronaut is being interrogated by his captors and identifies his smartphone as a computer only to have head Nazi Super-scientist Dr Richter wave dramatically behind him at a wall of blinking lights, vacuum tubes and old-school tech to exclaim “Fool!! This tiny thing isn’t a computer… Now, this is a computer!!”
The space battles…. now I must say….. those are pretty neat. Space zeppelins disgorging hordes of Nazi flying discs to battle earth’s military and space forces. Meteor bombardment from space…. and the ultimate battle platform, the “Götterdämmerung”. Oh yeah. Gotta like that. Just wish we’d gotten more of this instead of the badly done political satire.
I guess in the end, the rather patchwork feel of “Iron Sky” can only be blamed on the very unique and unusual way it was made. A co-production between three separate counties…. with funding that meant an overly long production schedule was inevitable… and a screenplay that has more than a bit of a feeling that it was the victim of several re-writes as things went along… all contribute to a film that has a very choppy and uneven feel to it from an audience perspective. With all of that, I suppose Neko has to give “Iron Sky” 3 “Meows” out of 5…. mostly due to the very good SPX and CGI work on display throughout. Without those, it would fare far worse…. being reduced to a merely interesting experiment in micro-budget film-making that just missed being any good at all. Thank goodness… if you are looking to give it a watch anyway, the Region 2 UK disc is at least budget friendly at around 15$ US, and presented in widescreen PAL format. I expect it’ll also pop up in most other regions as well in the near future…. it’s just got that kind of “cult movie” buzz…..
Trailer? Why of course Neko found you a Trailer… When do I not, Hehehehe? 😉