If there ever was some sort of modern equivalent to Dr. Strangelove then Iron Sky is probably the closest thing to Kubrick’s classic that you’re going to find. While not quite as black in its humour, director Timo Vuorensola’s film is nonetheless an eclectic mishmash of dark science fiction comedy and many contemporary pop culture memes and tropes. It’s in the former of these elements that Iron Sky excels, as it’s not afraid to dish out the racism card and drive it to Hell’s beach for all it’s worth. I guess it goes with the territory, particularly since we’re talking about a movie set circa 2018 in which those multicultural messiahs – the Nazis – plan to ‘come in peace’ (code for ‘initiate Final Solution 2.0’) from the dark side of the moon.
It turns out that a bunch of the goons took an extended lunar vacation up there when they realised things were going kaput towards the end of World War II. Some 70 years later the Fourth Reich has bred a new breed of ‘Moon Nazis’, indoctrinated via a heavily edited version of Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, and replete with ‘Moon Führer’ and suitably ostentatious swastika-shaped Moon base. It’s all done up with some nifty visuals and a level of polish which belie the film’s B-grade status and budget. In fact, the entire production design is pretty damn impressive; I really dug the whole retro-industrial vibe of the Nazi civilisation, which brought to mind vivid images of the Death Korps of Krieg.
The Earth however is less inspired and contrasts with the much more creative lunar stuff to the film’s detriment. There’s some heavy-handed allegory here, as the President of the United States might as well be a Nazi and is quite clearly a parody of Sarah Palin (though it’s not the best impersonation). She’s determined to be re-elected so commissions an expedition in order to be the first person to put a black man – a male model no less – on the moon. This is James Washington (Christopher Kirby), and it’s his initial encounter with the Moon Nazis and Earthologist Renate Richter (Julia Dietze) that sets the deliciously goofy plot in motion.
By this point the Nazis have well established themselves as safe go-to villains for filmmakers, and it’s easy to understand why. That they also work extremely well as a comedic goldmine is a bonus. There’s plenty of decent material here, from several references to Dr. Strangelove to a tongue-in-cheek homage to Downfall’s famous ‘Hitler Reacts’ meme that’s sure to go over plenty of heads. The majority of the race-related jokes also fair reasonably, it’s just a shame that the midsection is inconsistent and lacking in laughs. At least Iron Sky does action scenes with a degree of zip, panache and coherency (I’m looking at you Mr Bay!). The climactic invasion features flying saucers, zeppelins, high heels and stupid, irreverent star wars – at one point I was certain the Imperial March would start playing. Alas, it did not.
Almost everything you need to know about science fiction comedy Iron Sky is summed up by the fact that it has Moon Nazis in it. Moon Nazis! Anything else – that it’s merely a passable comedy bolstered by strong visuals and silly action – is really just secondary.