Film: Iron Sky
UK Release date: 28th May 2012
Director: Timo Vuorensola
Starring: Julia Dietze, Christopher Kirby, Gotz Otto, Tilo Pruckner, Peta Sergeant
Running time: 93 mins
Reviewer: Adam Wing
As far as killer concepts go, you don’t get much better than this. The idea has been knocking around for years, but it took the combined efforts of Finland, Germany and Australia to finally get it off the ground. Produced in collaboration with online film enthusiasts - who were invited to share their ideas and input - Iron Sky is the latest in a new wave of ‘participatory cinema’. Too many cooks can spoil the broth though, and if Snakes on a Plane proved one thing, it’s that you need more than a kick-ass trailer to keep your audience enthused. Iron Sky has a killer concept, but can the filmmakers stretch an ingenious concept over 90 minutes and milk it for all its worth?
In the last moments of World War II, a secret Nazi space programme made a daring escape into outer space. In the 70 years since then, they have been living on the dark side of the moon, building weapons and plotting revenge. When an American astronaut stumbles upon their secret Moon lair, the Fuehrer (Udo Kier) decides that it’s time to go back and conquer their old stomping ground. Ruthless army leader Klaus Alder (Gotz Otto) leads the charge against an unprepared civilisation, and the world is forced to unite in order to repel an invasion so ridiculous, it’s astonishing this movie wasn’t made sooner. Things are about to get very Nazi because Iron Sky is available to buy on DVD courtesy of Revolver Entertainment.
Despite a promising opening, and a handful of witty lines, Iron Sky loses its way very quickly. The movie trailer – as is often the case - is a lot more fun than the film itself, armed with more humour than the rest of the movie put together. The potential of the premise seems lost on the filmmakers, who fail to make the most of an ingenious concept ripe with comedy mileage. Nazi’s from space should be really funny, right? Not in the hands of Timo Vuorensola they’re not, who opts for cheap gags, repetitive themes and lazy plotting. Considering the film has been in production since 2006, and a Nazi revenge mission leaves itself open to all kinds of satirical swipes and humour, it’s bitterly disappointing to find that Iron Sky is a laugh-free zone from the moment it touches down.
Rather than go for the comedy jugular, too much time is wasted on lacklustre story arcs and meandering relationships. A lot of time is spent following former male model/black astronaut James Washington (Christopher Kirby) and Earth specialist Renate Richter (the striking presence of Julia Dietze). Their story arc revolves around Richter’s return to Earth with Washington (now white) and Nazi commander Klaus Adler, in search of a device similar in power to Washington’s smart phone. Renate’s father wants to integrate the device into their space battleship because its power far outweighs anything they’ve developed themselves. Why is Washington white I hear you ask? Because everybody wants to be white, right? That’s about as sophisticated as it gets in Iron Sky, you’ll have to get used to that I’m afraid. Dietze looks absolutely great and the camera loves her, but true inspiration is few and far between.
The President of the United States (Stephanie Paul) and her aide, Vivian Wagner (Peta Sergeant), play it tongue in cheek throughout, and their performances better suit the mood of the picture, but yet again they’re let down by a script that embraces weak gags and bloated story arcs. Vivian’s unrequited lust for Adler is tacked on for good measure, because why waste your time on political sideswipes when you can fill the screen with Stephanie Paul’s heaving bosoms? Udo Kier and Gotz Otto - as chief villains of the piece - are the only highlight in an undercooked movie experience that wallows in wasted potential. They bring genuine menace and gravitas to a film that - for the most part - feels as light as a feather. The CGI effects are really impressive and the action sequences are exciting enough, but there’s nothing going on beneath the glossy surface that’s really worth shouting about.
A great concept doesn’t always mean a great film, and Iron Sky squanders every opportunity it gets to make a lasting impression. Six years after production began (that’s one joke per year), Iron Sky crash-lands on DVD with a disappointing thud. There is still hope for the future (both a prequel and a sequel have recently been announced) but here’s hoping they remember to pack the jokes next time they visit.