Iron Sky

Finland (2012) Dir. Timo Vuorensola

During a US moon landing in 2018, the two astronauts discover a large colony base on the dark side but are attacked by two men in space combat gear. One is killed while the other black male model James Washington (Christopher Kirby) is captured and taken to the moon base, which he learns was built by the Nazi’s at the end of WWII. Having been building spacecraft for the past 70 years, the Nazis use Washington (who they have now turned white) as a guide for their scouting party, lead by ambitious General Adler (Götz Otto), to set the foundation for an invasion of the Earth.

Nazis on the Moon may sound like a headline from the heyday of the tawdry Sunday Sport newspaper but it also makes for an interesting concept for this big budget sci-fi political satire from Finland. This film isn’t one to be taken seriously in case you hadn’t guessed although some people have decided it is anti-American due to the portrayal of the US President as a Sarah Palin look-alike/think-alike (Stephanie Paul) and her bellicose aide Vivian Wagner (Peta Sergeant) – although those complaints did come mostly from Americans. In truth, Iron Sky mocks just about everyone, not just the Yanks, including the Finnish themselves; the Nazis obviously get some flak but this isn’t your typical “Nazis are evil“ re-hash either. The main target for lampooning is the war mongering perpetuated by politicians and governments worldwide and how it is always the ordinary people that are the ones who pay the price.

Among the Nazi party is Earth specialist Renate Richter (Julia Dietze) who stows away on the scout ship to visit the planet she has given many lectures on. When she and Adler are separated from Washington upon arrival they meet Wagner and are introduced to the President, who adopts their Nazi policies for her election campaign to great success. However both the President and Renate are aware that Adler actually plans to overthrow the current Fuhrer Wolfgang Kortzfleisch (Udo Kier) and destroy the US. The first stage of the invasion prompts the President to fight back with her own space battleship, the USS George W. Bush (I never said the satire was subtle). The rest of the United Nations join in with their space artillery and World War III takes place among the stars.

With the comedy being so hit and miss it is hard to accurately divine the intentions of Timo Vuorensola and his writers when it comes to the humour of the script. Neatly observed and rather savage satirical barbs that rip at the flesh of the high and mighty of global politics (a Palin clone in charge of the US!!) clash sharply with some juvenile cheap laughs, such as the rather fetching Renate almost losing her clothes thanks to an open airlock, or a white Washington (who doesn’t know he is white) trying to talk a gang of black youths like the is one of them being chased away in hail of gunfire. Somewhere in between is the moment where Renate learns the truth of her Nazi ancestors and their beloved leader Hitler from watching Chaplin’s Great Dictator – a heavily edited version of which Renate used to show the children of the Nazi moon base to continuing the deification of the infamous Fuhrer.

To its credit, the special effects are stupendous and rival anything Hollywood presents to us, making this at least a visually impressive outing despite its B-movie premise. The space battle at the end may be a little on the short side but it looks great, with the creative team deserving a pat on the back for the spacecraft designs. In keeping with the dual themed script, the performances of the cast match this dichotomy, with the US actors going completely over the top in their roles, especially Peta Sergeant as the foul mouthed, power mad Wagner, while the European cast are more restrained, measured and vastly more convincing as the Nazis. Even though director Vuorensola is Finnish, the whole film feels more like a Hollywood production than a European one, suggesting international appeal was the main concern when making this.

The best advice for approaching Iron Sky is to not to be aware that it should not be taken seriously and that the whacky Moon Nazis concept is a slight smokescreen for the more prominent political satire. Good for what it is but the promise of much more is palpable.   

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