Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Heil, Bizarro World Independence Day Streampunk! IRON SKY (2011)

It all starts rather predictably: blackstronaut James Washington (Christopher Kirby - way cooler than Will Smith) is the first man on the 'dark' side of the moon, where he's zapped by a Nazi space trooper unit and delivered to a giant swastika-shaped moon base, which was set up in the closing days of WWII to await the Fourth Reich. At first things drag a bit as loads of CGI tech and cartoony scientists exposit, but soon enough kicks into its own unique gear, and then it goes off in satiric riffs on America's yen for sturm und drang and becomes utterly and charmingly its own stealth NWO-affirming comedy masterpiece.

Thus it is the perfect for the Independence Day doldrums, for nothing is more patriotic than laughing at our national shadiness as seen through the eyes of the world, even if those eyes are German, Finnish, and Australian.

It won't be a surprise to some of us to learn the Nazis built a base on the moon during the second world war, but it might be a surprise to learn that though they've invented some spectacular steampunk devices. They lack anything up to date with our cell phones --ironic since there are some paranoid philosophers out there who say cell phone technology came from aliens from the dark side of the moon. And when the cellular battery recovered from Washington's cell phone helps power the moon Nazi's long-dormant, gigantic Gotterdamerung device, it's time for an invasion only the cute Aryan English teacher, Renate (Julia Dietze) and Washington working together can forestall.

Though she loses some of her clothes when almost falling through an air lock the whole of IRON SKY is rather chaste, as behooves 'fuzzy' straight-faced sci fi of this sort. It sees far beyond mere sexuality, leaning more towards genuine sociopolitical subversion and media satire. Renate is never objectified and though a Nazi it's only because she's been led to believe that Nazis represent a N.W.O. of peace, love, and tolerance. During a mission to earth to get more cell phones she's recruited by Vivian (Peta Sergeant) a savvy media planner and presidential campaign manager who lusts after Renate's nominal boyfriend (and the film's charismatic villain), Klaus Adler (Götz Otto) and ends up writing speeches for the current president, a Sarah Palin-type publicity hound who sent Washington to the moon as a publicity gimmick.

Perhaps only an international conglomerate of filmmakers like this (Australian, German, Finnish) could truly satirize America as deftly as IRON SKY, and since it's language appropriate (the Germans speak German most of the time, mit subtitlen und die Americanische sprachen Englishe), it has an even-keeled feeling, though the Nazis were the bad guys then, we're very clearly the bad guys now, laying claim to silos of Helium 3, nuking women and children, and generally underwriting global unrest at every step.

There's three ways this could go wrong: either through unimaginative scripting and lazy CGI (Read: most SyFy channel original movies), shitty acting (read most direct-to-video efforts), or through a thick veil of fake breasts and simulated sex (premium post-eleven PM cable). NEIN FUR ALLES! Instead the writing is clever und witty and lo! UDO KIER ist der jetztlichenfuhrer!

So if at first this seems way too-dependent on CGI to create elaborate but cold, almost-SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW-style steampunk moonbase panoramae with Metal Hurlant style weaponry, stick it out. IRON SKY will take you some really bizarre places and in doing so eclipse nominal fuzzy sci fi cult-intended efforts like BUCKAROO BANZAI. Clearly a major labor of love for all involved, six years in the making, it's directed by Finnish industrial singer Tomo Vuorensola in a way that reminds me in a way of the Norwegian-directed prequel to THE THING (my praise here).

Indeed, I haven't felt this ducky about something I caught on Netflix since the other big fuzzy horror hit on the 'stream, JOHN DIES AT THE END (see 'Pharmageddon'). That said, it took me a couple tries to get past the long opener. Maybe we've never been great satirists of ourselves (don't forget DR. STRANGELOVE was British) but we can appreciate little cult-in-the-making gems like IRON SKY and admire how, now that the Nazis are gone more or less, America is (black prez or no) still racism capital number EINS!

 PS - If you have any doubt of this film's cine-acumen, Washington (who winds up looking like Thor after an experiment to drain his colors) and Renate go see a revival of THE GREAT DICTATOR while in NYC, and emerge to glibly mention the film could easily have been edited down and no comedy should last 125 minutes. For Finnish filmen studenten to disrespect Chaplin is to earn them my eternal acclaim.


  1. Thanks--this is a wonderful film!

  2. jimmie t. murakami05 July, 2013

    I watched this recently on YouTube and although there were some dodgy bits here and there it was surprisingly good overall, a cult movie of the future perhaps.

  3. The trailer looked great when it came out, and I saw that netflix has it now.

    I shall give it a try.


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