Iron Sky (2012)

Rating: B

Dir: Timo Vuorensola
Star: Julia Dietze, Christopher Kirby, Götz Otto, Stephanie Paul

“In 1945 the Nazis went to the Moon. In 2018, they are coming back.” Man, I haven’t seen a glorious high concept, so immediately appealing in a very long time. Fortunately, the film inspired by the concept largely lives up to it: while falling a little short in some areas, in others it’s quite wonderful. Largely as an ploy to re-elect the President (Paul, a thinly disguised Palin clone), the US returns to the moon, heading for the dark side in search of Helium-3 which would allow it to be energy-independent. The two-man crew get a nasty surprise: one is killed and the other, the black James Washington (Kirby) captured by the Nazis, who have had a base there since the end of WW2. Washington’s cellphone is a more powerful computer than anything they have had, and so they dispatch their top man, Klaus Adler (Otto) to Earth to gather more such gadgets in advance of their invasion. However, his fiancee Renate (Dietze) is falling for Washington, and after the scales covering her eyes regarding the Nazis are removed, she and the now-“albinized” Washington set out to stop the threat.

First off: the look of this is really, really cool. The effects are right up there with the biggest budget Hollywood films that cost 10 times as much, and the futuristic stylings of the Nazi flying saucers and Earth’s battle space-stations are beautifully conceived and marvellously executed. But that wouldn’t be much more than meaningless entertainment: this also had a sardonic outsider’s quality to it. While it’s not exacrly pro-Nazi, it’s clear that parallels are being drawn between the Nazis and modern governments – American in particular – blurring the lines between “good guys” and “villains” a lot more than I expected. For instance, when the Nazis base on the moon is bombed, the possible civilian casualties are waved off by the commander of the American forces with, “We do not negotiate with terrorists.” There’s also the way Renate’s Nazi-speak seques into being the President’s speech more than a touch of Dr Strangelove in some of the scenes, though the apparent abdication of Palin from politics does make the film seem out-dated before it was even released.

All told, however, a lot more of this works than doesn’t, and the presence of a well-loved icon of European cinema as the leader of the moon Nazis was simply icing on the cake. It’s certainly going to piss off a good chunk of the mainstream American/Anglo audiences, who tend not to be happy when their society is parodied with such resulting blunt force trauma. But if, like me, you tend already to see things with a jaundiced eye, then this is your worldview writ large, with digital effects more impressive than you’d ever get from your own imagination. Not perfect, sure: a few of the jokes and much of the logic fall flat, though there’s enough of the former that work, and the latter isn’t really the point, I suspect. However, it certainly does a much better job of living up to the trailer than I could have hoped.