For the Fatherland (Fathermoon?) “Iron Sky”

June 24, 2012

I’ve asked this question before on this blog, and I’m sure I’ll ask it many, many times in days to come, but, having watched Iron Sky, it begs that eternal question: How do you screw that up? I mean, Nazis on the moon. Wait, let me say that again. Nazis. On. The. Moon. Why yes, that is a recipe for pure awesomesauce. And they have steampunk technology that they use to attack Earth. Holy crap! How has no one made this movie yet? It’s got Nazis, sci-fi, and steampunk zeppelins. That’s a perfect combination of ingredients, like, say, peanut butter, chocolate, and Heineken. Or handguns, Alien movies, and naked chicks. There’s no way for these things to come together and not make something great. Unless you throw in broad satire of American politics and foreign policy…as understood by a twenty year-old…in 2005. Then the awesomeness all goes away. Sigh.

Okay, so what happens with this movie? Uh…crap. A lot happens, and none of it terribly interesting. Basically, you got your Nazis on the moon—we covered that, right? They fled there after World War Two, because, well, why not, I guess. Gotta do something with all that excess rocket technology. They’ve built a massive Fritz Lang-inspired society there where they raise generations of Hitler youth an dream of someday reclaiming the Earth.

They get their chance when a couple astronauts stumble upon them. The moon landing is a cheap PR stunt by the American President (Stephanie Paul playing, basically, Sarah Palin though she’s never referred to as such). Part of this stunt was to send an African American male model up there to try and capture the, um, black model vote, I suppose. Well, the Nazis capture the model and are stunned to find a black man commanding the mission, since they’re into racial purity and all that jazz. They also discover that his iPhone is the last component needed to run their juggernaut which will allow them to retake Earth. But it’s out of juice. Crud.

So, they send a ship to Earth with one Adler (Gotz Otto) an ambitions Nazi officer with designs on the Fuher-ship, and his blonde bombshell fiancé Renate (Julia Deitze). In the process of trying to steal an iPhone, these two members of the Master Race are discovered by Vivian Wagner (Peta Sergeant), the President’s campaign manager. After hearing some of Renate’s fascist tracts, Wagner decides to model the reelection campaign on Nazi style and rhetoric. Pretty soon, Renate and Adler are ascending to the highest levels of political society. Bored yet? Give it time.

Okay, well, rather than just grab an iPhone, Adler begins scheming to seize power on the moon, by starting a war with the US. I’m not sure how that one was supposed to work, either. Anyway, in short order, Adler kills the moon-Fuhrer and takes his place. He then launches an attack on Earth and finally we get some steampunk Nazi vs. F-18 Hornet action. This is, like, an hour into the movie.

The President is thrilled to have a war on her watch (since wartime presidents are always reelected, as the logic goes), and launches an armed spaceship to attack the moon. To her chagrin, it’s joined by spaceships from other nations, forming a kind of Coalition of the Irritable. Unfortunately, Adler stole an iPad and fires up the juggernaut. Meanwhile, Renate has fallen in love with the model, and the two of them foil Adler’s plan, killing him, and savaging the moon colony. The movie ends with Renate teaching the Nazi youth about tolerance and multiculturism. The message being that we all must change. Because we’re all moon Nazis deep down inside, um, I guess.

Oh, and there’s some crap about the black astronaut being turned white, and some energy source the moon has that the US wants, and Adler’s affair and betrayal of Wagner…this fucking movie is a mess.

So, what makes it so bad? Well, first off, the movie was apparently crowd-sourced, which may explain why the story and is all over the map. This is a bad idea for any kind of film, but it especially hurts satire, which needs a clear target, and “The United States” doesn’t count as a clear target. The bigger problem is that this movie was begun in 2006 and has a decidedly Bush-era worldview. The fact that Barack Obama was elected President pretty much kills any bite this movie was hoping for. It reminds me of Mars Attacks! where Tim Burton skewers the Reagan White House…ten years and two administrations later. Yeah, that’s some prescient satire right there.

The other problem—and it’s a big one, too—is that this was a Finnish-German-Australian roduction, and as such the satire of American politics isn’t terribly well-informed. Yeah, you can make of the US as an international bully, but the potshots it takes at American electoral campaigns are lame and ill-informed. Do any campaign ads sound like Nazi propaganda? Even Republican ads? Not really. They emphasize fear of the State, not allegiance to it. They champion individuality, and candidates wear “average Amercan-ness” as a badge of honor—even when they’re scions of wealthy families who made their fortunes grinding down average Americans.

And is it even worth pointing out that since 2008, Sarah Palin has ceased to be a politician and is now just an ill-informed political agitator?

If this film has one good gag, it’s when, after the moon-Nazis attack, the North Korean Ambassador to the UN tries to convince the Security Council that those forces are actually his country flexing its muscles. And everyone promptly bursts out laughing. That was a good bit.

I mean, some of this movie’s shots may have landed in 2008 or even 2009, but now it’s just a movie that’s four years too late, and squandered the cool-ass concept of Nazis on the moon. Man, where’s Syfy when you need them?

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