October 8, 2012 at 9:18 AM
"...it really is that good"
Casey St. Charnez has been video editor for Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide since 1986 and buyer for Lisa Harris' Video Library since 1981. He likes Lisa, cats, crosswords, and the Metropolitan Opera, probably in that order.
I've just seen one of the coolest movies in eons: "Iron Sky," a 2012 flick about a Fourth Reich of Nazis invading Earth from the far side of the Moon.
Yeah, right. Bear with me.
The film never played U.S. theaters, but I’d been aware of it for some time and could hardly wait to see it. Those who know me will understand its irresistibility, even though its description begs comparison to complete and utter scheiße. Finally, though, it has been released to home media by Entertainment One, a video label specializing in the off-the-wall.
Off-the-wall, indeed. The year is 2018, and a very Sarah Palin-esque U.S. president is totally focused on her 2020 re-election. To that end, and in desperate need of a campaign stunt, she jump-starts the space program and lands a couple of astronauts on Luna.
Whereupon one of them, on a leisurely low-grav stroll, chances upon a giant secret military base. Storm troopers in space suits kill him, but imprison his capsule mate, an African-American regular Joe who stuns his captors with his skin color. For this compound is peopled by a large National Socialist Party contingent which somehow managed to flee Germany into space in 1945…and has been on the Moon ever since, building towards a day when they will return proudly to a Fatherland they have never known.
Oh, yes, yes, of course I know that this is totally the most ridiculous premise in all film history--but they pull it off completely.
Post-war screen depictions of those demented goose-steppers generally fall into the following categories: jokey, as in Mel Brooks’ "The Producers," or menacing, like Ira Levin’s "The Boys From Brazil," or somewhere in between, such as Quentin Tarantino’s "Inglourious Basterds. "
But" Iron Sky" is all three, yet in a class by itself.
First off, it’s hysterically funny, truly a laugh-a-minute or more. It’s also clever—the latest Führer (Udo Kier!) toodles around the swastika-shaped installation in a chauffered VW. And it’s brightly, bitingly satiric, with the mad scientist turning the black dude Aryan with his experimental “Albiniser” drug, and a Pres who declares “Nazis—the only guys we ever actually managed to beat in a fair fight!”
This Finnish-German-Australian production scrupulously avoids mentioning the Holocaust, or even the word “Jew.” That’s because director Timo Vuorensola wisely thought the Third Reich’s attempt at genocide not to be a laughing matter. There’s also a vivid dichotomy between the ruthless heir apparent and the naïve schoolteacher in whom he sees the eugenically perfect mate. He envisions bombarding Earth into surrender with eine meteorblitzkrieg, towed by rocket-powered zeppelins; she, however, thinks the mission is really about making terrestrial humans well and healthy again, in the purest Nietzschean sense.
Much as I’d delight in extolling here all the unexpected virtues of this ludicrously entertaining, visually quite spectacular sci-fi comedy, perhaps this is enough to convince you that there is so much more here than meets the eye.
And I haven’t even mentioned the jaw-dropper of an ending that’s worth waiting for. Be sure to stay through all the way to the end-title crawl.
Ja, it really is that good. Who’da thunk it?