Sometimes what you want of a war movie is an unflinching commitment to finding the truth of its subject matter, so you watch ‘Downfall’.
Sometimes what you want is a razor-sharp satire of the dangers of giving too much power to what Michael Moore would call stupid white men. So you watch ‘Dr Strangelove’.
And sometimes, ladies and gentlemen, sometimes the only thing that hits the spot …
… is Nazis on the moon.
I’d not be doing my job as a reviewer if I didn’t admit that ‘Iron Sky’ doesn’t quite add up to the sum of its parts, doesn’t go as batshit crazy with its wonderful central conceit as you want it to, and ladles on the ironies of its Strangelovian denouement a little too heavy-handedly … but, ach mein Gott if it didn’t have me twenty minutes in with an inspired spoof of the Hitler Reacts meme.
The plot goes something like this: at the end of the war, the remnants of the Third Reich split for the far side of the moon. Fast forward to 2018 and The President (Stephanie Paul), a gung-ho Sarah Palin type (she has a lot of stuffed animals of a decidedly Alaskan genus in the Oval Office), has backed a moon landing in order to bolster her re-election campaign. Rather cynically, she’s pushed Afro-American astronaut James Washington (Christopher Kirby) into the spotlight just so she can use “black to the moon” as a publicity slogan. (The mission, I hardly need to add, is to the dark side of the moon. The dark side. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the film’s most subtle racist joke.) The President’s entire campaign is the work of PR guru Vivian Wagner (Peta Sergeant) … and in case you didn’t get that joke, there are motifs from ‘Der Ring Des Niebelungen’, ‘Tannhauser’ and ‘Der Fliegende Hollander’ all over the soundtrack.
When Renate’s scientist father Doktor Richter (Tilo Prückner) discovers that Washington’s iPhone has greater processing capability than any of the equipment in the moon base, he gets permission from Kortzfleisch to use it to reactivate the Nazi destroyer-class spaceship Götterdammerüng (I told you Wagner was all over the place) only for the experiment to fail as the battery dies after mere seconds. Adler, Renate and the newly Aryanized Washington are dispatched to earth to round up more mobile phones. It’s in New York, however, that Adler and Renate meet Vivian, who is so impressed by their chiselled good looks and propagandist spiel that she builds The President’s entire re-election campaign around Nazi ideology.
‘Iron Sky’ is a movie that should have had a budget of $100,000,000 and a script by Terry Southern, Hunter S Thompson and Christopher Brookmyre, preferably on a day when they drank the Jack Daniels distillery dry and got fucked up on some seriously manky crack. As it is, it cost $7½ million and was written by Michael Kalesniko (whose biggest previous deal was the Howard Stern biopic ‘Private Parts’) from an original story by Johanna Sinisalo (who apparently won the Finlandia book award about a decade ago) from an original concept by Jarmo Puskala (who wrote Vuorensola’s previous outing ‘Star Wreck: In the Perkinning’), all of which smacks of a bunch of people sitting around going “Yeah, but, Nazis on the fucking moon, dude!” until someone actually managed to turn it into something remotely resembling a plot.
The effects work vacillates between the fuck-awful and the holy-fuck-that’s-actually-quite-impressive; the humour vacillates between clever and cringe-worthy; the performances – I gotta be honest here – are uniformly pretty decent, with Kier’s camp Führer and Sergeant’s foul-mouthed but foxy PR bitch emerging as standouts; and the set pieces fluctuate the most drastically of all, Washington’s attempt to talk down some gangbangers pissed off at Adler and Renate proving stultifyingly unfunny, whereas a summit conference in which the Finnish and North Korean delegates are the butt of the joke hits all the right satirical notes.