Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Moon Nazis

Iron Sky: written by Johanna Sinisalo, Jarmo Puskala, Michael Kalesniko, and Timo Vuorensola; directed by Timo Vuorensola; starring Julia Dietze (Renate Richter), Christopher Kirby (James Washington), Gotz Otto (Klaus Adler), Peta Sergeant (Vivian Wagner), and Stephanie Paul (President Sarah Palin) (2012): Partially crowd-funded, Iron Sky turns out to be an unexpected oddity -- a film about Nazis on the Moon in 2018 that's a political and social satire, not (as many of the previews suggested) a straight-up homage to 1950's science-fiction movies.

It's 2018. In an attempt to bolster her re-election chances -- and raise her popularity with African-American voters -- a thinly veiled President Sarah Palin has launched a cynical two-man mission to "the dark side of the Moon" (which in actuality would be the far side of the Moon: the Moon's dark side changes with its rotational relationship to the Sun, as does Earth's) with one of the astronauts being an African-American male model named James Washington (to further hammer things home, the slogan for this lunar mission is 'Black to the Moon? Yes she can!').

Upon landing, the mission swiftly runs into Nazis who've been hiding on the Moon since the fall of the Third Reich. This is actually based on one of those weird theories one sees on the History Channel sometimes, in which the Nazis had UFOs and escaped Earth in 1945. It's history, man! Aliens!

All Hell gradually breaks loose, though not in the ways one might expect. Washington meets and saves the life of a fetching female Moon Nazi, teacher Renate Richter, who has no idea what the Third Reich was really like (one of the funnier, smarter bits involves the edited, ten-minute-long Moon Nazi version of Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator, and the reaction of both Richter and Washington to seeing the full version in a revival cinema on Earth). However, Palin and her modelling-agency campaign advisor soon find Moon Nazis to be useful, especially as Nazi rhetoric and Republican rhetoric are strikingly similar...

This isn't a subtle satire, though at points it would actually be funnier if certain things were made clearer, earlier (the male model joke takes forever to unpack itself). The visual effects are striking and historically plausible -- I quite like the space zeppelins, and it's a matter of historical record that liberated-and-freed-from-fear-of-prosecution Nazi rocket scientist Werner Von Braun initially wanted to put something the size of a battleship in orbit once he was put in charge of portions of the American space program (!!!!!!!!!!!).

And there are some killer jokes and homages to Dr. Strangelove, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, the music of Richard Wagner, and a very funny bit involving the surprising origins of the Earth space defense fleet that takes on the Nazi invasion at the end of the film. And Julia Dietze, as Renate Richter, is hellacute. Recommended.

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