Nazis from the Moon: that’s the concept for 'Iron Sky', which was scheduled for a single-day release** before going straight to DVD. I wasn’t expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised. Despite the ridiculous concept and low budget, it fares no worse than something like 'Transformers 3'.
In 2018, the US president (a thinly veiled Sarah Palin spoof) sends a black man into space as a publicity stunt. The astronaut (Christopher Kirby) stumbles across Nazis, who have been hiding on the moon. Thinking that they are being invaded, the Nazis launch a counter-attack to conquer Earth.
Director Timo Vuorensola wholeheartedly embraces the absurdity, which is one of the film’s strengths. There is no winking and nudging, no tongue-in-cheek satire: this is a straight-up telling of a ludicrous story. As a result, it is occasionally quite enjoyable.
The film is at its best when it highlights the Nazis’ old-fashioned mentality, like when they discover modern-day technology. Or pornography. These scenes allow for some classic fish-out-of-water humour. Another source of laughs is the UN, where a metaphorical World War III takes place.
Unfortunately, a significant chunk of the film is just plain cringeworthy. This is whenever the action shifts to the Americans on Earth. The film tries too hard to draw comparisons between Hitler and the mock-Palin administration.
A full-on translation of the Nuremberg speech is cheesy, not clever. A shot-for-shot re-enactment of the (now-meme) Bruno Ganz breakdown scene from 'Downfall' just ends up being embarrassing. The film is very clearly a European piss-take of America, but these attempts at comedy are overbaked, falling on the wrong side of silly.
Consistency is the main problem here. By mixing straight-faced sci-fi comedy with unfunny gags belonging in Political Movie, the film ends up with an odd, indecisive tone. Honest laughs are punctuated with uncomfortable groans and it’s almost as if the Nazis ought to take over.
This is a shame, because the Nazi elements actually work very well. The invasion itself is solid. I was rather expecting cardboard cut-outs on strings but the special effects are pretty good, considering the budget. While it won’t rival Hollywood, the CGI does the job and all the space scenes look perfectly convincing.
This is no doubt a trashy B-movie, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not enjoyable. It is certainly more entertaining than a lot of mainstream dross with high ticket prices. For an almost-straight-to-disc movie, 'Iron Sky' is above average.
** NOTE: Although originally intended for a one-day cinema release, 'Iron Sky' has been granted an extended run at select cinemas, listed here.
'Iron Sky' is on limited release in UK cinemas today, and will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on 28 May.