Directed by Timo Vuorensola
Starring Christopher Kirby, Julia Dietze, Gotz Otto, Peta Sergeant, Stephanie Paul, Udo Kier
After years in development - and a level of internet-generated buzz not seen since the ill-fated Snakes On A Plane - the tongue-in-cheek Space Nazi flick Iron Sky finally hits our screens. But is it a blitzkrieg or a Barbarossa?
It all depends on how your expectations are calibrated, really. If you’re one of the netizens who have already proclaimed the film as the ‘BEST SCi-FI IDEA EVAR!’, you’re in for a dose of disappointment; this is a low budget B-movie, and while the effects and production values are quite impressive considering the financial constraints, it was never going to be Star Wars with actual stormtroopers. What it is, when its overly convoluted plot isn’t tripping it up, is a fairly fun and brazenly bawdy sci-fi romp wrapped around a core of political satire.
In the near future, a moon mission designed to give the incumbent American president (Stephanie Paul impersonating Sarah Palin) a popularity boost instead uncovers the secret lunar base where the remnants of the Third Reich have been hiding out since WWII. The Moon Nazis scramble a scouting mission, headed by the megalomaniacal Klaus Adler (Gotz Otto), to pave the way for a full scale invasion of Earth, but things go awry, and the Aryan astronauts wind up advising the president’s campaign manager (Peta Sergeant), and find that a dose of National Socialist dogma does wonders for the president’s approval ratings. Caught up in all this is the hapless male model turned astronaut James Washington (Christopher Kirby), who might just be able to save the world if he can convince sympathetic fraulein Renate Richter (Julie Dietze) to help him.
It sounds packed with incident, but the film is largely dialogue driven, with the limited effects budget largely reserved for the third act, when the epic space battle promised in the film’s promotional material is finally trotted out. What saves the film is not spectacle, though, but a rich vein of audacious black humour. Nods to famous films will keep the cinema-literate smiling - Kubrick in particular gets several tips of the hat - and the cast are gleefully committed to absurd premise and B-grade aesthetic; Udo Kier once again proves he can class up even the cheesiest joint with his turn as the Moon Nazi fuhrer, while the fearless Christopher Kirby displays leading man charm as the African American astronaut who has to cope with being Aryanized by twisted Nazi science.
At its best, Iron Sky feels like a Heavy Metal comic strip come to life, all big, bold ideas, playful sexuality, cynical politics, and anarchic humour. True, its everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach doesn’t always work, and another script draft or two would have done wonders for its pacing problems, but as a pure display of cinematic audacity, there won’t be another wide release this year that tops it.