Iron Sky (2012)

This is the film sites like this were designed for. If you’ve found your way here, then chances are you’ve at least seen some of the hype surrounding this, but what, you might well be asking, is the film actually like? I think we’ll be getting other reviews for this film from the other reviewers here, so be aware that the views expressed in this review do not represent the views of the entirety of the ISCFC.

There are too many ideas in this picture!

Also, I’m going to be spoilering the hell out of this film, so if you’ve not seen it yet, I’ll do a quick review for you, and then move on to the substantive spoilered review.

QUICK ONE: Don’t bother. It thinks it’s funnier and cleverer than it is.

LONG ONE: I don’t know if you’re fans of Futurama or not, but there’s a scene which made me laugh and stuck with me. The crew visit a planet populated by robots, and the robots make films where humans are the bad guys. Only they’re not humans – they’re robots with extremely unconvincing human “skins” over them. And that’s what this film felt like to me – as if a group of robots from another planet had decided to make a film about humans, had only the faintest understanding of human society, and were armed with a badly translated book of history.

So, the film. A Sarah Palin-alike President in 2018 has organised a trip to the moon to boost her approval ratings, and she’s sent a black male model as one of the crew. The posters up all over New York are “Black To The Moon”, which in the era of Obama seems oddly and irritatingly anachronistic. Also, there’s no way the guy they picked for the film was good looking enough to be a model. Hey, this stuff is important! So, they get to the Moon, and one of them takes a stroll over a hill, and sees…a gigantic Helium-3 mining operation, run by the Nazis! Their ship is blown up when the Nazis find out they’re there, and only the male model survives, taken prisoner. He appears to not know anything about history, as he tries to talk stereotypical black street language to them, and they just kick his ass.

The Nazis, it is hinted, found some alien technology and, escaping earth at the end of WW2, sent some people to the dark side of the moon to set up a base there, in a move which is never adequately explained. Well, they’re supposed to be mining the aforementioned Helium-3, which will provide virtually unlimited energy for the people of Earth, but never seem to do anything with it. I get the feeling that looking at the film in this sort of depth would be discouraged by the makers of the film, but there’s no reason why a film can’t be balls-to-the-wall insane and still bother to explain its main plot points. We get this information in a nice bit of school-room exposition, led by Renate Richtner (the lovely blonde woman you see at the top of this review), whose Dad is the main Nazi scientist. Ain’t that always the case? I feel like I ought to skip ahead a bit…the Nazis find the mobile phone that Male Model has brought with him, and instantly declare it to have more computing power than their entire base. Finally, they think, the power needed to run their Gotterdammerung machine! But the battery runs out after a few seconds, and although they can hook it up to their main computer, they can’t recharge it or anything like that.

Wow, I’m not skipping forward very far. Okay, Mark, game-face. They decide to take a trip to the Earth to find a mobile phone with 100% charge, and take Male Model with them. He’s been turned white with some serum, and apparently brainwashed too. They don’t bother doing anything as silly as checking to see the brainwashing stuck, so by the time they get to the Earth Male Model is back-talking and all sorts. He escapes the Nazi clutches, so they decide to kidnap the President’s publicist, who immediately falls in love with Man-Nazi. You may notice how a better-prepared reviewer would bother to learn their names, or would do a copy&paste when he’d looked them up, but not me! The President decides having a couple of space Nazis advising her on policy would be a good thing, and they get to work organising a war to keep the President in office.

Moonbase shaped like a swastika…okay, that bit I liked

Three months later! Male Model is now stood on a street corner with a straggly beard, trying to convince people that the Nazis are coming. Getting some make-up and a haircut and, I don’t know, going back to his old life seems out of the question for him. Still, if he did that how would the plot continue to rumble along? He meets up with the nice Nazi lady, who clearly believes all the propaganda about how the Nazis are really all about peace and goes up to a gang of shaven-headed thugs spraypainting swastikas and is mocked and pushed about for her trouble. So her and Male Model team up…Then my brain sort-of glossed over a bit. There was a fight, and the Bad Nazi (a qualifier I never thought I’d need to use) took an iPad and headed off back to the Moon to start up the Gotterdamerung (don’t worry, I had to check I’d already mentioned it in this review too). Did he want to stay on Earth and something happened to force him to go back? Or was he just really bad at finding a phone? I’ll leave that for you, reader, to figure out when you watch it yourself.

Space battle! All the countries of the world have their own heavily armed “satellites” in space, which they didn’t tell the President of the USA about! An organisation which is presumably supposed to be the UN degenerates into a mass brawl between the assembled world leaders! Can Good Nazi and Male Model save the world, and the innocent brainwashed Nazis on the moon?

Well, that’s enough about the film itself. I really didn’t like it, and here’s why. First up, it can’t decide what it wants to be – a comedy? A serious action film? A political satire? A steampunk action adventure? Perhaps in the hands of better filmmakers, this stew could have made something special but from these guys, it fell between way too many stools. The “satire” was exceptionally heavy-handed, to the point it felt like I was watching a porn parody of a real film I’d never seen. This also fed into the acting – especially Male Model and President Palin.

I think films which have really strange premises should and could have internal logic that allows you to not ponder why X is happening and just enjoy the film. Take, for instance, “Crank”, one of the most brilliant fast-paced and insane films of recent years, which has logic (of a sort). I’ve already mentioned a few of the more glaring plot holes in this film, but the main one for me is, why didn’t they just use the alien technology they’d got and win the war back in 1945? Why was their technology stuck in place, to the extent a mobile phone had more power than their entire base? Even if the world was really bad in 2018, wouldn’t we remember the Nazis were super-evil and not let them into the highest echelons of Government?

This film is a Finnish / German / Australian co-production, and the director is Finnish. It’s interesting to see what someone way outside America thinks of it and how they portray it on film. It becomes less interesting when you learn the director is in a “dark metal” band and has previously directed a couple of cheap sci-fi parodies.

Everything about this film just seems crude or silly, so I’m baffled as to how it’s entranced so many normally sensible reviewers and filmgoers. Well, I think it’s got something of the “Snakes On A Plane” or “Dead Snow” about it – a film with an excellent premise that has no idea of how to actually execute that premise. It’s not wild enough to be what it’s striving for, and it’s not well-made enough to qualify for your interest any other way. If I had to say something nice about it, I’d say that the world of the Nazis on the moon is fairly well thought out and looks decent.

My soon-to-be-traditional “one final thought” about this film – there are numerous references throughout this film to other, better anti-war films. A clip of “The Great Dictator” is played early on, and one of the characters attempts, Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove style, to suppress giving it the old Sieg Heil. Now, I’m all for using the rich tapestry of film history to illustrate points in new films, but if the film you’re making is no good, then having references to two of the best films of the 20th century in it will just make everything around it pale in comparison.

Rating: 1 star

Iron Sky on IMDB
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