Two words: Space Nazis. And now a question: How do you feel about the concept of a movie based around Space Nazis? If you’re thinking ‘yes, Space Nazis – yes, that sounds like the epitome of stupid but fun’, you’ll probably like Iron Sky just fine. If you’re thinking ‘Space Nazis? How patently absurd – no good can come of such an endeavour,’ I’m afraid Iron Sky is not the revolutionary Space Nazis based movie to alter your preconceptions and is not for you. If you’re not sure, then I can’t help you; this is really an issue you should have given more consideration to earlier.
For Iron Sky stands and falls on its concept. It isn’t anything significantly more or less than what you would expect of such a concept, and that concept is, of course, Nazis in space. The film is set in 2018 and the US has sent men to the moon for the first time in decades. However, when they arrive, they come in for a terrible surprise – a Nazi moon base on the dark side of the moon! The Nazis, it turns out, fled to the moon in 1945. No, don’t ask how, there can be no asking how when it comes to Iron Sky or everything falls apart in seconds. They have been living there ever since then end of the war – trying to complete the Gotterdammerung, the ultimate weapon. But they haven’t yet developed the technology to get it working – but then an American astronaut hasn’t turned up with a smartphone before. Enter said astronaut, James Washington.
Powered by the smartphone, the mighty weapon is about to achieve lift off when the battery on the phone dies, prompting the ambitious army captain Klaus Adler to lead a mission to earth to get more. He jumps on a flying saucer, along with his idealistic girlfriend Renate who believes that the Nazis are all about peace and love. (This alternate history of Iron Sky’s third Reich is based on the first ten minutes of the Chaplin movie The Great Dictator, which they believe is a short movie, and use to teach Aryan school children.) With them comes Washington, the astronaut, a black man who is unaware he has been albino-ised while on the moon. Mayhem ensues as the power hungry Adler ends up meeting the US President, a Sarah Palin inspired idiot, with disastrous consequences. Will Adler get his space army going? Can Washington save the day? Will Renate find out what the Nazis were really like? You can probably guess the answer to these questions, but that’s all part of the fun.
Almost more interesting than Iron Sky‘s plot (more interesting than Space Nazis – tough to believe I know) is the story behind how the film came to be made. Apparently the idea came to one of the writers in a dream, and the director said they should make it, but only if they could get ‘proper actor’ Udo Kier involved (they did, he plays the Fuhrer). It went into production back in 2006 and a teaser trailer was taken to Cannes in 2008 in the hopes of gathering finance. Part of the money was raised through online crowd funding – getting people to contribute a bit here and there in order to get it made. It was finally completed in 2011 and premiered at the 2012 Berlin Film Festival. So it was pretty spectacular feat to get it made, but all this does suggest that there should have been enough time to give the script another once over to tighten it up, and to work out some of the huge holes in the internal logic, but that’s probably nitpicking for this kind of movie, and that would be asking questions and we’ve established that asking questions would be a mistake.
Iron Sky is dumb and pretty fun. One surprising piece of praise is that it looks fantastic – for the small budget the effects are extremely impressive and a lot of thought has clearly gone into the design. One surprising criticism is it’s perhaps not quite as silly as it should have been – there are some funny moments and some of the satire is amusing if hardly razor sharp. But it’s not as over the top as you might expect and the Sarah Palin character is maybe a lazy target. However, you should have fun watching this – as long as you answered ‘yes, Space Nazis’ to the earlier question.