The film Iron Sky was pitched pretty heavily at Comic-Con 2012 to coincide with its U.S. launch. It was first released in Europe in April 2012. We wanted to go by the booth for details but forgot about it until the last few minutes of the Con on Sunday and by then the staff had vacated it. Too bad since we were really curious. So, we were glad it made its way to Netflix last week. Wondering if you should take the plunge and watch it yourselves? Pull up a chair and listen to a story.
What’s it all about?
Iron Sky is a dark comedy with a sci-fi substrate. The premise is absolutely ridiculous and that is absolutely awesome. There have been Nazis as clones. Nazis as zombies. Nazis as close personal advisers to the President of the United States of America. So, why not Nazis on the moon?! The movie is tongue in cheek throughout although it gets a bit preachy at the end. That was unnecessary since it doesn’t fit the general outrageous atmosphere of the movie.
The Plot Synopsis
The year is 2018 and Sarah Palin is president. President Miss Diva spends a lot of time on her treadmill in the Oval Office barking out orders to her psychotic re-election campaign manager. Meanwhile, there are Nazis on the dark side of the moon (that’s an awesome phrase, huh? We think the next time a co-worker says something like “OK, we’re taking care of [xyz customer]‘s concerns and should be wrapped up tomorrow,” we will respond “Meanwhile, there are Nazis on the dark side of the moon.” Ah, we crack ourselves up) . They got there somehow (it isn’t explained) and have erected a massive fort where they are raising a generation of Fourth Reich warriors to invade Earth and Aryan-ize the planet. The residents of Earth don’t know this when President Soccer Mom uses an unnecessary moon landing as re-election PR gimmick. One of the austronauts, a black man who’s actually a model and is only there to make the whole thing look good, gets captured and is hauled off to the lab so the Nazis can learn about the current state of affairs on Planet Earth. Since no one in the younger generations has ever seen a black man, they assume there must be something wrong with him so a clichéd eccentric old scientist Aryan-izes him by whitening his skin, converting his eyes to blue, straightening his hair, and coloring it blond.
So, the adventure is afoot as the Nazi leadership, in the midst of an internal power struggle, prepares to launch a massive attack on the Earth. They do so by sending enormous space zeppelins to release meteors to rain down on Earth as bombs. They also engage Earth fighter jets in air-to-air combat with their UFO-like aircraft. On a side note, retro-futurism (like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow in film, and like Terminal City and other books by Dean Motter in comic form) is always a joy and there is plenty of it here as the film’s creators imagine what an isolated population of Nazis do with their technology while removed from the rest of the Earth’s populace. Anyway, the battle wages on and President Sarah takes advantage of it because she knows a “war president” has a really good shot at re-election. We won’t get into the details about the dynamic between the New Führer and the psychotic campaign manager and how that leads to a retaliatory strike on the moon, but suffice it to say it happens.
As we said, the film ends on a somber note. That must be a European convention. Funny movies can’t just be funny through and through for you Old Country-ers, can they? What the hell is it with you Europeans and your whole “make peace not war” thing? We Americans have learned how to embrace the entertainment value of pain, suffering, mayhem, and destruction. As for the music, the closing song by Laibach is a nice touch. Kind of reminds us of the type of song you’d hear at the end of a Bond movie. We didn’t pay much attention to the score during the rest of the film but it gets generally positive reviews from critics, so it must be good or something.
The nut of it is, we recommend watching Iron Sky even if it is just to support small films like these. Maybe this one was only passable (and we think it deserves more credit than that), but there are other fantastic films begging to be made if they can just get public support.
The Sci-Fi of Iron Sky
Yes, you need to get past things like the inconsistent science of air and vacuums, noise in space, moon vs. Earth gravity, African-American astronauts, how the hell the Nazis got there to begin with …. etc. Some movies take their sci-fi too seriously and these types of conundrums make them unwatchable. Iron Sky doesn’t bother focusing on the science at all, nor should it.
Production details: Iron Sky is an Australian-Finnish-German joint venture shot mostly in English. What makes the production of this type of film remarkable is that it was partially crowd-funded. Crowd-funding is when part of a film is built by pre-selling merchandise and taking donations.
Budget: An astonishingly low US$8 million (before final marketing).
Income: An astonishingly low US$8 million (before residuals). It’s tough for small films like this to get visibility. With a larger marketing budget, this film would have ended up with viral cult status probably.
The “R” rating may have hurt it. The only thing we can think of that justified it was the much maligned “F” word. The film would have had a much better draw at PG-13. Even though teenagers (especially in America) are far enough removed from the WWII period (holy hell, it’s been almost 70 years since it ended), the goof-ballsy story would have made for some late night cinema fun for anyone.
The Good: The CGI and special effects are surprisingly good. It’s nice that movies don’t need a ridiculous budget anymore to produce impressive effects. And beyond that, the whole concept is simply crazy funny.
The Bad: The acting and directing was so choppy it was hard to get into the moments of dialogue. Some of the scripting was awful too. It’s clear this is a relatively amateur venture. It was also much more formulaic than necessary. It wouldn’t have taken much to throw in a few plot twists that wouldn’t have cost much either.
The Ugly: Dammit! This could have been so much more. It’s too bad it didn’t catch the eye of Guillermo del Toro. He could have added some depth to the evil intentions of the Fourth Reich. As it is, this is a very shallow film. Fun, but even less substance than it should have had.
Timo Vuorensola: We didn’t even know Finland had cinema. In fact, we didn’t even really believe Finland existed until we saw concert footage of some air guitar competition followed up by a long tourism advert proclaiming that Finland really did exist. Anyway, it’s easy to tell that this is one of Timo’s first ventures. The film could have used some help pretty much across the board, but our view is that it was actually not a bad start for a first feature film. And, to his defense, a budget of about US$8 million for a sci-fi war thriller doesn’t give a guy much room to explore.
Julia Dietze: She plays a second generation moon Nazi. The character is misguided and is ultimately a good person. We’ve never seen Julia before. She’s a French-born German. She looks good in a conveniently placed underwear scene and in a low cut blouse, corset, and high cut skirt. Who said Nazis aren’t sexy? Hopefully, Julia is a better actress than this film demonstrated.
Christopher Kirby: His character is caught up in the middle of it all. He gives the Nazis fits. Christopher’s other credits include Mauser from the Matrix movies. Also, he has backup roles in Star Wars III and Daybreakers. He’s an American actor living in Australia. The fact that he was converted into an Aryan is racist at one level, but actually pretty funny if you think about it. Oh, what we wouldn’t give to get a look at Hitler’s, Himmler’s, Eichmann’s and all the other pig shitters’ faces if they could see Jonathan in white face!
Götz Otto: He plays the ambitious Nazi leader who fancies himself the next leader of the Fourth Reich. It seems like his name is backwards, huh? Gotz is a German actor. His performance is OK. The character Herr Klaus Adler has a pretty long title: Der Schutzstaffel Obergruppenführer von Schweinehund. By the way, did you recognize him as Herr Stamper from one of our least favorite James Bond movies? That’s right, he was the tall blond muscle-bound baddie in Tomorrow Never Dies.
Udo Kier: Udo plays the Heir to the Herr. The moon’s resident Führer. Did you recognize him as the artsy-fartsy dude from Ace Ventura? Yes, of course he is a seasoned veteran of a ton of movies and TV shows, but that one just stood out to us. Udo’s is a small role. He is a bit foppish for a Nazi. Wait, actually Himmler and Göering were self-possessed and fastidious dandies, so maybe Udo is spot on.
Peta Sergeant: Yikes. Her character, Vivian Wagner, is a Bitch in Leather. Having said that, Vivian can spank us anytime. Peta’s an Australian hottie. Good gravy, her acting was so hammy. But, we enjoyed her corset ever so much. Peta has done a ton of TV work yet we haven’t seen any of it. She looks so familiar but we can’t quite put our finger on why …
Stephanie Paul: Plays Sarah Palin. Pulls it off OK in the looks department and it doesn’t matter if she doesn’t have her mannerisms since her character is just a caricature anyway. But hey, the essential question is “How the hell did Palin get in the White House?” That would be an interesting sidebar to explore. We can’t find anything about Stephanie, so we’ll make it up. She’s 6’2″ tall, ambidextrous, and double jointed. She has a rare mynx hybrid cat called Bootsies. Stephanie graduated with a degree in philosophy. Statuesque and gorgeous (this part isn’t made up).
Tilo Prückner: Mad scientist Doktor Richter is more befuddled than evil. He is the father of the history-misinformed Nazi ingénue palyed by Julia Dietze. There’s not much about Tilo online, so again, we make it up, yes? Tilo was born with hoofs instead of feet. Really. Like full blown hoofs. Also, his family was the last one to escape East Germany before the Wall came down. Kinda anticlimactic, that.
So, here’s the breakdown:
- Directing: 2 out of 5
- Acting: 2 out of 5
- Effects: 4+ish out of 5 (given the budget)
- Story: 2 out of 5
- Concept: 5 out of 5
- TOTAL: 3 out of 5
Here’s the official trailer:
And here’s the music video to the Laibach’s “Under the Iron Sky”
Well. There’s always the possibility of a Fifth Reich, right? Oh, let’s hope not. So, Heil Nobody in Particular!
In parting, here are some posters.