Sunday, 29 April 2012
FILM REVIEW: IRON SKY
As far as high concept films go, the idea of Nazis on the moon sounds like it should be a blast, well, at least a hoot. And if you happen to see Finnish director Timo Vuorensola's Iron Sky with the right audience, it could be.
A playful satire of right wing politics which swings unevenly between dead-on and too broad, Iron Sky is set in 2018, where Nazis have colonized the dark side of the moon. The Germans have actually been lunar-located since the latter stages of World War II, biding their time and awaiting a glorious return to Earth to establish the Fourth Reich.
Those plans are hastily brought forward with their discovery by two U.S. astronauts, one of which they take back to headquarters and who, much to everyone's Aryan surprise, turns out to be black.
James Washington (Christopher Kirby) is actually a male model, chosen for his good looks and dark complexion as part of a PR exercise to kick-start the re-election campaign of the current Palin-esque U.S. President (Stephanie Paul, who's no Tina Fey).
The Nazis are fascinated with the Earthling -- a computer the size of pack of cigarettes? -- none more so than Renate Richter (Julia Dietze), resident school teacher and Earthologist, whose knowledge of the Third Reich's history is somewhat spotty; she believes the Nazis are a peace-loving people, and Charlie Chaplin's The Dictator is a short film praising the good works of Hitler (the film's best joke).
But when she stows away on future Fuhrer (and husband), Klaus Adler's fact finding mission to Earth, accompanied by the now albino-ized Washington, Renate eventually has her eyes opened to the true nature of her people.
But not before Adler (Gotz Otto) is embraced by the U.S. President as a key to her re-election strategy, and literally embraced by presidential campaign manager, Vivian Wagner (Peta Sergeant). But before long, intergalactic relations sour and it's rocket ships at the ready as the U.S and the Nazis go to war -- again.
The swastika hasn't been used this prominently in film since Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds (2009), or with such reckless abandon and gleeful disrespect for the Third Reich since Mel Brooks' The Producers. Not that Iron Sky is as entertaining as either of those films; it's not even in the same galaxy, quality-wise.
Still, the film looks great. The visual effects, and particularly the models of moon bases and spacecrafts are impressive. The film recalls Star Wars in look and has a deliberate nod to John Williams' score; Ride of the Valkyries also gets a good run (you can't have Nazis without Wagner).
If only Vuorensola, and screenwriter Michael Kalesniko (working from an original idea by Johanna Sinisalo and Jarmo Puskala), had paid as much attention to honing the screenplay, sharpening the satire and finessing the performances, then Iron Sky may have hit more targets than its scatter shot approach allows for.