‘Iron Sky’ movie review: Nazis on the moon in oddball Finnish parody

Whadda joke. I guess that’s to be expected from your average Moon Nazi movie, but Iron Sky has played the festival circuit, built up some word-of-mouth hype, garnered a handful of decent reviews, and is in the midst of a worldwide theatrical release. Don’t buy into it; this film is as cheap and one-note as you might expect from the premise.

And it’s all premise. There are Nazis on the Moon, been there since WWII, and now (or rather, an oddly ‘futuristic’ 2018) they’re ready to attack. This can only be a comedy – and to be sure, the film does not take itself seriously – but there’s nary a laugh during the 90-minute running time.

So the Moon Nazis – who have been able to avoid detection, just like those pesky Decepticons, because they live on the dark side of the Moon – are discovered by a spacecraft which happens to land a few steps away from their Helium-3 mines. This is the first manned mission to the moon in forty years – and of course, there’s an ulterior motive or two – promoted as “Black to the Moon”, because, yeah, there’s a black guy on board.

This seems like a big deal, with Times Square billboards, but the mission is just the black guy – male model James Washington (Christopher Kirby) – and one other “real” astronaut, who’s killed off by the Nazis in the film’s first scene. Ah, the Nazis, Führer Kortzfleisch (Udo Kier), next-in-line Klaus Adler (Götz Otto), and pretty young schoolteacher Renate Richter (Julia Dietze), Adler’s bride-to-be.

Here’s what Iron Sky is missing: actual exploration of its Nazi/WWII or science fiction elements. There’s so much ground that could be covered here, so many stereotypes to play with, so much material ripe for comedy. But no; Iron Sky slaps a swastika armband on its characters to identify them as Nazis and calls it a day.

There’s little thought behind the ideology of these characters, and what does make it to the screen is so muddled that they don’t seem to really be Nazis at all. What do the Moon Nazis want? What is their Final Solution? Why, to take over the world, in generic Dr. Evil fashion. What should be controversial and darkly funny is instead entirely lame. What a waste.

Sci-fi elements are even less satisfying. How did they get there? How do they live? What’s up with all the giant Star Wars spacecrafts, on both sides of the battle? Ah, yes, it is set a whole six years in the future. I keep reading about how good the movie looks; well, it’s a sea of bland and unimaginative (and often, poorly rendered) CGI effects, a few giant leaps behind 2004’s Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, which (visually) it most closely resembles.

In the end, we have a premise in search of a movie; a Sarah Palin-like president, some Dr. Strangelove references, a tired Downfall parody (in which it’s not the Nazis or the Palin-like president, but her campaign manager filling in for Hitler), and other easy targets and brainless gags don’t add up to much. While the premise has certainly piqued interest, the finished product is unlikely to find its intended cult.


Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at expats.cz and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at MaArtial.com.

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