It should be a crime to waste a great idea. The concept behind this low-budget exploitation actioner – in 1945, a band of Nazi officers fled Germany to build a base on the moon – should have made for OTT bad-taste thrills.
In the hands of a director who understands satire – Paul Verhoeven, say, or even Roland Emmerich – it could have been a lot of fun. But overseen by a bunch of Finnish fanboys whose first feature was unfunny sci-fi pastiche ‘Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning’, it becomes a crude slapstick romp.
When the new US President (Stephanie Paul), a right-wing fanatic unsubtly modelled on Sarah Palin, dispatches astronauts to the dark side of the moon, they’re astonished to discover a swastika-shaped mining colony. These ‘Mondnazis’, led by Fuhrer Wolfgang Kortzfleisch (Udo Kier), are putting the finishing touches to a 60-year project: to launch the Battleship Götterdämmerung and retake planet Earth.
‘Iron Sky’ has its moments. The CGI effects are effective, with some fine background detail: the updating of Albert Speer-style architecture to outer space is often inventive, while the sight of space Nazis on moonbikes powering along a lunar autobahn is especially memorable.
The problem is the script, which feels at best like an irritatingly self-aware B-movie pastiche, at worst like a crude sixth-form farce. As both Verhoeven and Emmerich would understand, the kind of satire at work here – essentially, comparing the might of America to that of the Third Reich – is best when underplayed. Instead, ‘Iron Sky’ trades in crass, trouser-dropping slapstick, proving that even the dumbest idea needs a smart mind behind it.