Iron Sky is the insane film you’ve probably seen the trailer for. If the title doesn’t ring a bell, maybe the term “Moon Nazis” will. The film’s trailer gained it notoriety on the internet due to the unique nature of the content. While Tommy Wirkola‘s Dead Snow gained notice because it featured Nazi zombies, Iron Sky gained notoriety because it features Moon Nazis planning their return to Earth after leaving when Germany lost World War II in 1945 after the death of Adolph Hitler.
Director Timo Vuorensola took a unique approach to getting the film made, using fan donations to make up 10% of the $9.4 million budget, to my knowledge, the largest example of crowd source funding to this date. A Finnish-Australian-German c0-production, the film transcends any normal sensibility, and what comes out is a love letter to 50’s sci-fi, Nazi-sploitation, and 80’s action films, all based around Nazis invading the Earth from their secret base on the dark side of the moon. Filled with pop culture and historical references, the film pokes constant fun at B-movies past, and the shortsighted nature of National Socialists.
The film opens with astronaut James Washington (Christopher Kirby) landing on the moon in the United States’ first trip to the lunar rock in nearly 50 years, where he quickly discovers that not all is well on the barren landscape, where Nazis have a gigantic base on the dark side of the Moon. The year is 2018, and a Sarah Palin-esque (played to hammy perfection by Stephanie Paul) female president has led the charge back to the moon on the cusp of her campaign for re-election.
The Nazis are led by the new Führer Kortzfleisch (Udo Kier) and his right hand man, Adler (Götz Otto) and while their plans are not quite complete, Washington’s arrival expedites the building of their secret weapon, prompting the Nazi invasion of the Earth. The rest of the plot is actually pretty complex, especially when you go in expecting it to be typical genre fare. What you need to know is the Nazis do come for a war with Earth, and the entire episode is dripping with anti-war irony.
Personally, I found the most impressive aspect of the movie to be the visual F/X. While there are a few moments of bad green screen blending, for the most part, the F/X match or exceed anything you’ll see in a Roland Emmerich film (at least in terms of realism) and often Iron Sky is far more inventive and fun to watch. Considering the film was made for less than $10 million, this is quite the feat, and the amalgamation of visual F/X companies that worked on the film are to be commended for their excellent work for very little money. It’s also further proof that Hollywood blockbusters are horribly overpriced, budgets bloat because of factors like poor planning and lazy hiring practices by overpriced producers.
While parts of the film are absolutely ludicrous, that’s often the point of the film. The exploitation of B-movie tropes becomes a joke in itself, so when the acting is ridiculously over-the-top, you won’t mind because it’s so tongue in cheek that if you’re watching the film, that’s what you’ve come to expect. No one that watches the trailer and decides to see the whole film will be disappointed, if you are, you obviously weren’t paying enough attention to the trailer and its zany sensibilities. Sadly, Udo Kier is only in the film for a few key moments, but Götz Otto more than makes up for the lack of Udo goodness, and Julia Dietze plays the role of innocent damsel turned bad ass with sly aplomb. Stephanie Paul is about as annoying as Sarah Palin, making her acting choices accurate, increasing the irony to a new level.
Director Timo Vuorensola first heard the idea and said he would make the idea into a film on two conditions: One, that Udo Kier appear in the film, with the second stipulation being that Slovenian band do the score. The Richard Wagner-inspired score fits the film completely, often lightening the mood while at the same time making the entire thing feel much more epic than it has any right to be. The cinematography and set design, like the visual F/X, bring the film to a level well beyond expectations, and more importantly, the international cooperation and crowd source funding for the film represent a new era in global filmmaking. While Iron Sky may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s a fast paced goofy movie that is a lot of fun to watch. Again, if you liked the trailer, or it made you smile, the film is short enough and silly enough to get through while retaining that smile. This is not one of those movies where all the money was spent on the trailer shots, instead, it manages to go all the way to the end with a concept that just simply shouldn’t work, but somehow, it does. Bravo.