For some viewers, the core visual joke of Iron Sky--Nazis on the moon--will wear out its welcome by around the halfway point. Maybe even a little earlier. That's a completely understandable reaction given that the movie goes big on the initial gag before about a planned invasion of Earth by displaced Nazis in the near future and then subsequently abandons the premise for a satire of American politics.
Stick in there, though--Iron Sky might not be the most incisive sci-fi comedy about a Nazi invasion from the moon, but it does deliver on the premise with some well-executed outer space battles and a surprising burst of sincerity in the final act.
Director Timo Vuorensola's film finds a pair of American astronauts stumbling across a Nazi base on the dark side of the moon, complete with swastika-shaped central structure and SS-branded uniforms. The Finnish director obviously loves using the Nazi aesthetic--they do make the most crisply-dressed villains. From their space base, they plan a return to Earth, propaganda extolling an age where they can return to their terrestrial home and "free" the world.
The two astronauts serve as a rude awakening to the space Nazis and serve as a jump start to the invasion. Ambitious Captain Adler (Götz Otto) wants to return to Earth with a small team to procure some of the advanced technology there, with turned-white-by-villainous-super science black astronaut/model James Washington (Christopher Kirby) dragged along. Also along for the ride: idealistic teacher Renate (Julia Dietze), who believes the Nazi message is one of peace, only to have her illusions shattered when she has a chance to know what the rest of us know.
This all collides with unnamed President who bears a striking resemblance to a former Alaskan governor (Stephanie Paul), and her leather-clad campaign manager Vivian (Peta Sergeant), who enlists the would-be invaders to help save her candidate's flagging campaign.
Iron Sky isn't especially deep: most of its humor comes from the Nazi's bafflement with the world outside of their compound and a broad portrait of American politics which allows that the American people would accept a presidential campaign heavy on jackboot and crisp, dark uniforms in its imagery with Renate as the sexy, sincere voice of the movement to heal the world. It's really in the back end when the world's governments are drawn into a multi-ship space battle against the invaders that the movie's sense of humor gets a little sharper as Michael Kalesniko's shows the bickering among countries with a decidedly frosty response to the United States.
Some elements are less successful: the extended joke of Kirby as an unconvincing black man really only goes to remind us that eight years on, White Chicks was still a terrible idea. Likewise, it's not clear why a Palin-alike was used. Is she still seen as a prominent or politically relevant figure in Europe?
Iron Sky's simplicity will either be the reason you seek it out or the reason you turn it off, but it executes on its concept with some accomplished effects for its low budget while living up to the promise of its premise.
Presentation and Special Features
Entertainment One has presented the film with a crisp, clean picture on Blu featuring both 5.1 DTS and 5.1 Dolby tracks (the former has a crunchy, heavy bass track).
Director Timo Vuorensola and producer Samuli Torssen provide the feature commentary, peppered with tidbits about the story and production along with hints where they want to go with a potential sequel. Occasionally, Vuorensola gets a little serious about some of the weightier political and philosophical underpinnings of the film, but it's a little hard to take seriously what with it being a movie about Nazis attempting to invade Earth from the moon.
The disc also includes "The Making of Iron Sky" (17:22, HD) with the director and production team discussing the origins of the film. There are also 18 behind-the-scenes clips (18:13, SD) featuring various special effects and stunt shots from the film, the theatrical trailer (01:53, HD), and a trio of teaser trailers (05:40, HD) featuring newsreel-style footage of the Nazi conquest of the moon, as well as story trailers laying out the story.
Iron Sky is available on DVD and Blu-ray now.