Iron Sky: The Director’s Cut (2012)

Do not expect subtlety
Do not expect subtlety

“We Come in Peace”

Directed by Timo Vuorensola
Starring Julia Dietze, Christopher Kirby, Gotz Otto, Peta Sergeant, Stephanie Paul and Udo Kier

In 2018, a politically-motivated US moon landing discovers a hidden Nazi stronghold. One of the astronauts is killed and the other, African-American model James Washington (Kirby) taken prisoner.

Ambitious Nazi officer Klaus Adler (Otto) is sent to Earth to acquire mobile phones, after it is determined that Washington’s phone has more processing power than the greatest Moon Nazi mechanical computers and could enable them to finally launch their ultimate war machine, the Gotterdammerung. Adler’s intended, idealistic teacher and ‘earthologist’ Renate (Dietz) stows away, and her impassioned belief in the mission of the Fourth Reich to heal the lost people of the Earth allows her and Adler to become advisers to the US President (Paul) and her media consultant Vivian (Sergeant).

When Mondfuhrer Kortzfleisch comes to discipline his renegade underling, Adler instead kills him and takes over, abandoning both Renate and Vivian. Renate and Washington try to reach the moon and sabotage the Gotterdammerung, while a fleet of highly illegal armed spaceships led by Vivian in the USS George W. Bush engage the Nazi war fleet.

With the Gotterdammerung down, the remaining Earth ships begin shooting at one another over the Nazi stockpile of Helium-3, while a fight breaks out in the UN Security Council. Over the credits, missiles are launched, turning the Earth into a wasteland, leaving Renate, Washington and a handful of Moon Nazi survivors as the only apparent survivors of the human race.

What’s wrong with it?

Iron Sky mines a rich vein in the Moon Nazis, but squanders a lot of its potential on cheap humour (Renate is inadvertently stripped by an airlock, and much play is made of both Washington’s black American slang and German compound nouns.)

The film’s satirical elements are, as with much satire, highly time-sensitive, and I don’t know how relevant Sarah Palin still is in the US, but I suspect that she is rapidly losing satirical capital elsewhere.

The film’s characters are highly caricatured. This is a deliberate choice, but makes it harder to relate to any of them. As protagonists, Renate and Washington have the most depth and growth, and that is still quite slight.

The Netflix-exclusive Director’ Cut seems to add half an hour of extra scenes, mostly of either the Nazis being all super-Teutonic-badasses or complete cretins, and a lot of the film undercuts itself in this way, which harms the credible threat level for any given antagonist even as they are blowing up large parts of the world.

What’s right with it?

While much of the humour is pretty blunt, the film has some good moments, including Renate’s praising of the classic ‘short film’ The Great Dictator and her reaction to learning that it was actually a two hour satire mocking Hitler.

Again, while much of the film is populated only by stereotypes, Renate provides a pretty good notion of what a well-meaning Moon Nazi would be like, juxtaposed with the military leadership and their proposed ‘Meteorblitzkreig’ to wipe out all human life on Earth.  The final scenes of the film are almost poignant.

How bad is it really?

It’s just not as good as it feels like it could have been with just a little more effort and a little more subtlety. As it is, it’s quite good fun to watch, but suffers somewhat on repeated viewing.

Best bit (if such there is)?

  • As an international fleet of armed spaceships moves to support the George W. Bush, the President erupts in outrage at this breach of international treaty.
    President: “You gave me your word!”
    UN Delegate: “But you broke your word.”
    President: “Oh, we always break out word; that’s what we do.”

What’s up with…?

  • Renate’s skirts and shoes? They are in keeping neither with Nazi ideals of modest German womanhood nor the practicalities of a low-G, sealed environment.
  • The weed farmer? Adler lands in a field of hemp in upstate New York and is run off by a yokel with a shotgun (master race!) yet the ship is exactly where they left it when Renate and Washington come back. Surely it would at least be up on blocks.

Ratings

Production values – For a $10 million one joke picture, the production values are actually pretty sweet, with a unified dieselpunk aesthetic pulling everything from the costumes to the Nazi war machines together in contrast to the shiny retrofuture Earth. 3
Dialogue and performances – The dialogue – especially the jokes – are a bit hit and miss. The performances are pretty decent, although Peta Sergeant looks perpetually a little astonished to be there. 9
Plot and execution – The plot is essentially reliant on the world being a somewhat simplified place, which sits a little awkwardly with the political satire, and it is a little unclear what Klaus gains from working with the President, apart from a middle section to the movie. 8
Randomness – In a film about Nazis from the Moon, you really have to work for your randomness, and there isn’t much here except for those points where a joke is desperately shoehorned in. 6
Waste of potential – Man, I love me some esoteric Nazi conspiracy theory, and who doesn’t like seeing Nazi space zeppelins getting blown up? It feels like there has to have been a better film in there, it just needed more effort to bring it out. 14

Overall 40%

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