Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Achtung! Moon Nazis!: Iron Sky
After a lovely holiday and less lovely Flu motivated break, we return to normal service with a look at last year’s Reddit darling, the space-Nazi love story Iron Sky. Lets see how many times I can type the word “Nazi” in one post!
Iron Sky is a mess, but its an endearing mess. The film is packed with enough ideas to fuel half a dozen crazy films, and it practically vibrates with excitement as it vomits all of them at you at once. It’s hard to be mad at though, because even covered in its insane idea vomit you can recognize what a labour of love this whole thing was for somebody. My guess is the special effects team, who must be very pleased with themselves.
Set in the near future (you can tell its the near future because everything is slathered in AfterEffects holograms), Iron Sky poses the question “what if Nazis have been living on the dark side of the moon since the 1940s and no-one noticed until just now?!” In the opening of the film we are introduced to the giant swastika shaped moonbase through the eyes of a captured American astronaut (an amusing detail - he is an African-American male model who was sent on the moon mission by the Sarah Palin-esque President to pander to the black vote) as he tries to escape his moon-German captors and warn the Earth. Meanwhile, the Nazis have discovered that his cell phone has massively more computing power than their room size computers are capable of, and they therefore need to go to earth to steal our iPhones to power their war machines.
For such an obviously special effects-driven film, there is a surprisingly earnest attempt at some character-based comedy and drama in the middle third of the film, which finds the Nazi second in command going on a mission to New York with his pretty and naive Nazi schoolteacher fiancee and the American astronaut in tow. The film gets a bit of mileage from a satiric subplot where the Nazis are taken in by the President’s campaign manager, who co-opts their Nazi iconography and crazed rhetoric for the President’s speeches with great success. The whole thing drags on for far too long with far too few interesting things happening. I’m as much of a fan of character based drama as the next guy, but when you check your watch and realize that its been nearly an hour since something exploded in a film like Iron Sky, something has gone horribly wrong.
Its during this draggy middle section that the film sinks its teeth into its most unfortunate sub-plot. Before bringing him with them to New York the Nazis attempt to brainwash the black astronaut into becoming a full-fledged Nazi. This involves bleaching his skin, dying his eyes blue, and turning his hair blonde and straight. When he finally escapes from the Nazis and into the streets of New York we are treated to some ham-fisted satire on racial politics in America as he tries to relate to people of various ethnicities in the inner city while essentially wearing whiteface. This is all played for comic relief by the filmmakers. Learning that Iron Sky is the product of a joint Finnish/German production company explains some of this tone-deafness, but certainly doesn’t excuse it.
All is very nearly forgiven, though, once things start exploding. The big inevitable battle scene at the end of the film is admittedly pretty great, with F-16s dogfighting Nazi war-saucers over New York City and UN spaceships duking it out with giant Nazi motherships (shaped like zeppelins of course) up in orbit. The whole thing kind of falls apart just in time for the surprisingly depressing ending, but for a while there the pure spectacle of the thing fulfills the promise of every trailer and crowdfunding pitch the internet freaked out over in the run up to the film’s release. It’s just a shame it takes so long to get there.
You can watch Iron Sky right now on Netflix streaming.
Nazi count- 14