Few films have the courage to contemplate the dread possibility of a Nazi colony thriving on the dark side of the moon. Such was the courage required to make 2012's Iron Sky which, among other far fetched ideas, postulates a United States where the ignorant and narcissistic president is manipulated and supported by a foreign fascist state. Half modern comic book action film, half ode to Doctor Strangelove and The Great Dictator, Iron Sky, as a comedy, is more captivating for the absurdity of its flow of ideas than it is for being genuinely funny, though it has some laughs. It's surprisingly thoughtful at times, plain dumb at others, and a bit prophetic.
The film opens with a group of American astronauts landing on the moon as part of a publicity stunt for the President's re-election. Along for the ride is one of the film's two protagonists, James Washington (Christopher Kirby), a clumsy male model slightly more realistically drawn than Derek Zoolander.
This is one of the film's problems as James really ought to have known what all the swastikas meant when he's dragged into the Nazi base. He just seems surprised that everyone's speaking German. They, in turn, are surprised by the sight of a black man.
The film's other protagonist is Renate Richter, played fetchingly by Julia Dietze, is a Nazi schoolteacher who believes the propaganda she's teaching, that the Nazis have no desire to hurt anyone and aim only for world peace. The movie avoids discussing too much her belief in racial superiority.
But maybe things have changed, though whether or not for the better would be a debatable, as Renate's mad scientist father turns James into a white person instead of exterminating him. This leads to some obvious jokes and the bit goes on for maybe a bit too long.
The film makes its first direct reference to Doctor Strangelove when James, brought out in a wheel chair after his operation, struggles to prevent his arm from compulsively raising in a Hitler salute. Though the fuhrer now is Wolfgang Kortzfleisch, played by Udo Kier. Kier plays it nicely straight, exasperated as he has to explain over and over to people to say "Heil Kortzfleisch" not "Heil Hitler".
Led by the man who has been genetically matched with Renate to be her mate, Klaus Adler (Gotz Otto), Renate and James head to Earth to seek power supplies for the Nazi superweapon in the form of cell phone batteries.
A lot about the plot makes no sense. The motivation to find cell phone batteries falls apart when the end of the movie features a fleet of Nazi flying saucers fighting a fleet of Earth ships, which also makes the old school moon landing at the beginning make no sense. But as the film is at pains to point out, the logic here is the same that allows Slim Pickens to ride an atom bomb.
The U.S. President, played by Stephanie Paul, is a thinly veiled parody of Sarah Palin. When the sadomasochistic fashionista in charge of her P.R., Vivian Wagner (Peta Sergeant), runs into the moon Nazis, she soon exploits Renate's propaganda training to help bolster the President's re-election campaign with results like this:
One senses the President isn't a Nazi but has no moral compunctions about profiting from Nazi supporters (I'm still talking about the movie). With her casual attitude about ordering military actions without concern for civilian casualties, the film, which is a Finnish-German-Australian production, reflects the impression many countries have of the U.S., or the impression they had in 2012. One can only imagine what the sequel will be like.