Revolver Entertainment // 2012 // 93 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // June 13th, 2012
In 1945, the Nazis retreated to the Moon. Now, they're coming back!
Following their defeat at the hands of the allies in World War II, the Nazis launched a secret space program that saw their remaining forces escape to the moon. Now, in the year 2018, the Nazis are on the verge of enacting their revenge, as they prepare to unleash their reinvigorated army in an attack on the Earth's unprepared forces. The Nazi plans are unexpectedly brought forward when U.S. astronauts inadvertently discover their moon base.
Due to its outlandish premise, and lengthy gestation period (production began in early 2006), Iron Sky (Region 2) finds itself burdened with a level of hype that it cannot possibly live up to. Few B-movies attract much attention from the general public, but thanks to an intriguing teaser trailer and the backing of film critic Mark Kermode, Iron Sky seems to have piqued the interest of more than just the usual fans of cult cinema. Due to the level of expectancy this hype has generated, it's difficult to come out of one's initial viewing of the film feeling anything less than disappointment, and not just a little confusion.
Iron Sky is not the laugh-out-loud, sci-fi movie pastiche we were sold, and the initial shock of that will undoubtedly lead to many disgruntled viewers. However, further viewings (or an open mind) reveal a flawed, yet deeper film that expected.
Though the opening act plays out in a fairly predictable manner, the second act takes the film in an unexpected direction as a reconnaissance mission by the Nazi's brings them into direct contact with the President of the United States. It is at this point that it becomes clear that -- much like the zombie movies of George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead) -- Iron Sky is actually a reflection, albeit a humorous one, of current world issues. In this case, it is the United States of America, and her foreign policies in particular. This is where the film is both at its most resonant and flawed. While the way Nazi rhetoric is so enthusiastically assimilated by the beleaguered President is not just a little unnerving, the humor is often too blunt. The female President (played gamely by Stephanie Paul) is an unapologetic parody of Sarah Palin, but much like her secret weapon (the USS George W. Bush, a nuke carrying space station), her very involvement dates the film instantly, as do the shots taken at the Bush administration and what the filmmakers believe to be their abuses of power, which are at the forefront of everything the film has to say. Of course, some of the observations made still hold water, and these are the moments where Iron Sky comes closest to greatness. Though the U.S. comes in for the most shtick, it's important to point out that these barbs are reserved solely for the leadership of the United States (not to mention other UN member states), and the film's hero is himself a U.S. citizen who finds himself used as a propaganda tool by the President.
While the second act may be lacking a consistent tone, as it shifts clumsily from comedy to action movie, it at least maintains momentum. The final act, on the other hand, is far too chaotic as it stumbles towards a quite somber finale. In the end, Iron Sky seems to argue that, regardless of your nationality, citizens of every country are routinely deceived and mistreated by their leaders, who put their own legacies and greed before the good of their countries, which in this case has far reaching consequences.
Thankfully, Iron Sky isn't merely a political satire, and as promised by the posters and trailers, we are treated to a handful of impressive action sequences that really add to the film's Friday night movie vibe. The battle that takes place above the Earth's atmosphere during the final act is unbelievably ambitious, and, like the sets -- which include a swastika-shaped moon base -- are all well-realized and belie the film's small budget. A clever use of CGI has allowed the filmmakers to create a handsome film that stands up to a good number of modern blockbusters.
The cast is clearly onboard with director Timo Vuorensola's vision. Gotz Otto, who plays Fuhrer wannabe Klaus Adler makes for a fine villain, while Julia Dietze is very effective as a Nazi whose eyes are opened to the reality of their regime. Peta Sergeant delivers a quite frightening (yet still fun) turn as the President's advisor, who is more concerned with image than substance. Finally there's Christopher Kirby, as the first African-American astronaut, James Washington. Possessing good comic timing and a look befitting an action hero, Kirby makes for a likeable lead -- even if his role does occasionally rely on bombast.
Revolver's Region 2 DVD sports a very impressive 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer. There's a high level of detail packed into a sharp picture. Colors are bold, while the rich black levels help add a good amount of depth to the image. The 5.1 soundtrack is similarly impressive, and contains crystal-clear dialogue. No special features are included on the DVD.
Much more than just a cool poster and oddball setup, Iron Sky is a cut above most B-movie nonsense.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Revolver Entertainment
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated