Warning: spoilers ahead!
In 2008, I saw the first teaser for Iron Sky, an independent Finnish dark sci-fi comedy. It was all CGI and didn’t reveal much, but it looked very cool and introduced the subject of the movie: Nazis on the moon. A group of Nazis made it up there in 1945 and has been there ever since, hiding from the world on “the dark side of the moon,” and in 2018, they’re coming back. I knew right away that was a movie I needed to see. Four years (and lots of hype) later, Iron Sky is finally here.
First of all I have to point out how incredible it is that director Timo Vuorensola and his team have managed to deliver a project of this scale. Vuorensola’s last movie, Star Wreck: In The Pirkinning (a Star Trek/Babylon 5 parody), was made with a budget of 13,000 euros and was only released online. Iron Sky has a budget of 7.5 million euros, a huge amount for an independent Finnish film. It has been getting loads of attention at various film festivals, and is getting a theatrical release all over the world. This leap is attributed to the Iron Sky team’s strong social media presence, production strategy of crowd sourcing (actively reaching out to the fan base and involving them in the production process), and crowd funding. More than a million euros of the budget was raised through merchandise sales and individual fan investments. There is also a “demand to see Iron Sky” page on the official website where people from all over the world petitioned for distributors to pick up the movie.
The film starts with two American astronauts arriving on the moon in 2018. While exploring the surface they run into a patrolling Nazi who immediately shoots one of the astronauts and captures the other one. He is then taken to a gigantic swastika-shaped moon base where it turns out the Nazis have been preparing for an invasion of earth. However, their outdated technology prevents them from getting their main spaceship working. They find out the astronaut’s smartphone holds the technology they need to get the thing up and running (why he brought a cell phone to the moon I don’t know), but unfortunately for the Nazis, the phone’s battery goes dead right when they’re testing it on the spaceship. A team is sent to earth in a small flying saucer, hoping to find a similar device so the Nazis can finally begin their “meteorblitzkrieg” and establish the Fourth Reich on earth.
For a movie with a relatively small budget, the visuals are very impressive and a cool combination of styles is used in the film. The Nazis’ isolation on the moon prevented them from developing new technology, so instead they expanded and “perfected” what they had when they went up there in 1945. This resulted in huge steampunk-like industrial structures with lots of big gears, gauges and levers, big flying saucers and space zeppelins. The technology used on earth, on the other hand, is futuristic and the scenes in the war rooms and earth spaceships remind me of those awesome little shorts during Red Alert campaigns.
Most of the characters, especially the Nazi roles, were very well cast. Julia Dietze plays the beautiful but naïve “Earth specialist” Renate Richter, German giant Götz Otto is perfect for the role of moon Nazi officer Klaus Adler, and exploitation actor Udo Kier is great as Moon Führer Wolfgang Kortzfleisch (I was a little disappointed to see he didn’t get a lot of screen time though). Christopher Kirby has a wacky role as an African American model-turned-astronaut who gets captured by the Nazis and taken to their moon base, where he gets injected with albino serum in order to Aryanize him (I’m not making this up). So for most of the movie he walks around like a reversed Robert Downey, Jr. in Tropic Thunder. Most of the cast is pretty solid.
There were some things I didn’t like as much, though. Australian actress Stephanie Paul plays the President of the US, in a sort of weird over-the-top parody of Sarah Palin. This felt really forced and was pretty cheesy. For the rest of the movie the sillyness works, but the political parody felt very out of place (it’s a movie about freaking moon Nazis!). Besides that, there was the dialog. Don’t get me wrong; a lot of it was cleverly written and I laughed a lot during the movie, but often the delivery was very weird and unnatural, like some of the actors learned their lines phonetically and wouldn’t sound like that in real life. I literally cringed on more than one occasion.
Since the whole movie takes place in the near future we are never shown how the Nazis got to the moon and what events took place between 1945 and 2018. Thankfully the creators of the film didn’t waste the opportunity to expand on that and are releasing three prequel comic books. The first issue, titled Bad Moon Rising, is out now and you can check it out for free here on the Iron Sky website.
Iron Sky has a lot of the elements of an exploitation film, but I don’t think that term does the movie justice. It may be an independent film with a limited budget, but it’s not cheap. It’s a lot of wacky fun, it has great visuals, but above all you can really tell this is a labor of love. I’m not sure if Iron Sky lives up to all the hype, but it’s a fun flick and I can’t wait to see what Vuorensola comes up with next. It gets 3.5 out of 5 Nerdskulls from me.