Upon finding out that there would be a movie about Nazis from the moon, invading the earth, everyone’s inner geek rejoiced. Could it really be they are making a movie that reads like a video game or 60s comic book about something really hilarious? Could it be they are actually investing in a movie that is actually coming with an original idea? It seemed so. Iron Sky (imdb), directed by Finnish filmmaker Timo Vourensola raised about over a million dollars in funding through the internet (so-called crowd funding), and another six mainly through governmental grants and funding programs. Not exactly a super low budget film anymore, but still independent category. The movie has been in the works for a long time, evolving from a showcase trailer to a fully fledged sci-fi movie that in many country is playing on a wide mainstream release to so far full auditoriums.
With a movie like this, expectations among the nerd crowd are usually rather high, considering the potential of such a movie for cinema references, pop culture inside jokes, exploitation nature, and over the top crazy shit that the premise has to offer. And it reads like the most hilarious premise ever. In the 40s, the Nazis apparently landed on the moon (the dark side of the moon), and built a moon base there and a helium-3 mine, doing research and building a fleet of UFOs. About 80 years later, US president Sarah Palin sends an African American model to the moon as an astronaut to show that they can be “Black on the Moon”. But one of the astronauts gets shot and the other captured by the moon Nazis, who plan an invasion of earth to take place as soon as they can muster the computing power to launch the Goetterdaemmerung, a massive UFO. Seems like the astronaut’s iPhone is just that amount of computing power needed, but it’s battery is low. So they send Herr Adler, who is looking to replace the current Fuehrer of the Fourth Reich very soon, and wants to marry propaganda teacher Renate Richter, a blonde bombshell who buys into the propaganda she teaches the moon Nazi children. All hell breaks lose when Palin’s consultants discover the potential of a Nazi invasion for her re-election, and it turns out the US aren’t the only ones with nuclear arms in space, and Richter finds out that “The Great Dictator” is in fact two hours long and not an appraisal of the Fuehrer’s great plans for planet earth….
From that, one might think this is one hell of an elaborate movie that ties together over the top popular culture imagination about overly powerful Nazis, together with a political satire of world politics, and some love story elements and typical sci-fi good versus evil showdowns. And in some way it is. Unfortunately the movie isn’t quite as well-written as one might hope, resulting in the film’s action curve falling a bit flat in the end, some of the scenes come across as overly wooden and artificial, and there is just too much happening that is not properly established or explained. Many things are rushed or even brushed over that would have made the movie a lot more high quality than it is now. The effects are great, and don’t look like a low budget movie at all, but I wish they had spent another chunk of money on some script polishing and character development. The other thing is that there are scenes that are incredibly atmospheric, with great music and nice scenery, that establish the fictional universe the movie takes place in quite well. But then there are random assortments of scenes that are very generic, that almost ruin the picture. All in all, the movie is a bit uneven.
On the upside, the movie is really quite hilarious and entertaining – well worth the admission if you ask me. The actors do a great job, and you really see the love that has gone into this project, which has not shed its fan funding charme despite the millions that have gone into expensive special effects. It is definitely not a mainstream subject matter, but they managed to tell it like a mainstream movie, that means you can take almost anyone to see the movie. It’s not raunchy or grindhouseish, it’s not as over the top as some of you might have hoped, and it remains in the family-friendly realm of subject matters and jokes. That is all good for this movie and will probably bring the deserved financial success to the project. It makes the movie accessible to a broad audience, and it really is a fresh breath of air among the usual crap that lands in multiplexes this time of the year.
However, this is Furious Cinema, and I want to conclude this review by restating that I feel there is plenty of wasted potential here, and the movie is not even close to the furiosity that would have been possible. A more polished script, more attention to detail and a good dose of spice would have done the movie good and made it a lot more exploitative in many respects. The movie’s mainstream touch as I said is not a bad thing, but it comes at the cost of daring and originality. In a parallel universe, someone would have spiced the movie up a bit landing it a more restrictive age admission rating, but making the story a lot more sophisticated and the movie as a whole into more of a modern exploitation movie.
Iron Sky is a hilarious attempt at bringing an over the top sci-fi movie idea to the masses, and it succeeds. It is very entertaining, has lots of great ideas, and has enough fan funding and independent movie charme despite the expansive special effects that make it look like one of the big movies out there. It is a very interesting project to study and discuss, it has a lot of flaws, but overall comes with a recommendation by myself and most people I talked to.