Viking Night: Iron Sky
By Bruce Hall
February 26, 2013
Is there anything worse than a Nazi? How about a Space Nazi?
Finnish director Timo Vuorensola (best known for a series of mind-shatteringly bad Star Trek spoofs) wants you to imagine that instead of fleeing to Argentina, or cowering inside bunkers while angry Russians sacked Berlin, the Nazi leadership hopped into rockets and blasted off for the moon. There, they secretly build a massive invasion fleet and prepare for Götterdämmerung - the ultimate revenge. But Hitler's offspring are forced to alter their plans when interrupted by the world's sexiest astronaut and his unlikely accomplice. And there you have it - the most ludicrously awesome story idea I have ever personally heard.
In fact, if Iron Sky had actually managed to pull this off, people might be singing this film's praises for a lot longer than the Third Reich was supposed to last. But despite a strong core concept and some surprisingly polished looking visual effects, the story itself is only marginally better than the Pulp Fiction/Red Dwarf mash-up I wrote back in college (no, that’s not a compliment). Vuorensola's sense of humor is that of a moderately intelligent, socially awkward 12-year-old who cracks up at his own jokes before he gets to the punch line (neither is that).
It all starts with a US moon expedition in 2018, sent to look for a mysterious element called Helium 3. But after they land, astronaut James Washington (Christopher Kirby) has just enough time to get his feet dirty before he sees his commander murdered by storm troopers in Hugo Boss spacesuits. The Space Nazis have already discovered the Helium 3 and are using it to build their war machine. Witnesses cannot be tolerated. Washington is captured as a spy and marched back to the Space Reichstag to meet the Moon Fuhrer (Udo Kier), who is stunned to discover that his prisoner is a black man.
I think we all can guess what kind of attitude the Space Nazis have about this. The race issue leads to some very early and uncomfortable humor that nearly derails the film. It also results in an utterly appalling subplot that would normally have torpedoed a film like this, but the rest of the story is so consistently weak that you're actually almost able to forget about it. What's disappointing is the amount of potential left on the table because someone was more focused on stretching a handful of lame jokes out for 90 minutes than in using that time to tell a good story.
Things actually start to get - I'll stop just short of using the word "compelling" - in the second act, when the Nazis send Klaus (Gotz Otto), the Fuhrer's second in command and Renate (Julia Dietze), the official Earth Historian planetside to prepare for the invasion. They take Washington along to get access to the President (Stephanie Paul) so they can make a pitch. It turns out that this President (an untimely rip on Sarah Palin) is in danger of losing the upcoming election, and badly needs an angle. When Renate lays out the Party philosophy - sans genocide - it actually sounds very patriotic and inspiring. Before you know it, the President of the United States has unwittingly appointed a couple of fascists as her campaign managers. And really, who can even tell Nazis and Americans apart, what with the way they impose their will on other countries and are always telling lies and bombing things!