Patrick Gamble

Berlin 2012: ‘Iron Sky’ review

★★☆☆☆

Easily one of the most anticipated films at this year’s Berlinale (for right or for wrong) was Timo Vuorensola’s Iron Sky (2012), with tickets for this ‘Nazi’s from the Moon’ sci-fi parody selling out within a couple of minutes. Such a ludicrous premise was never going to result in a prize-winning film, yet Iron Sky transcends the absurd into a yet-unknown stratosphere of ridiculous filmmaking.

It feels almost impossible to criticise a film like Iron Sky which never attempts to be anything other than a playful romp, however, for such an outlandish idea to work it needs strong foundations and characters whom the audience can relate to. Iron Sky’s plot is exactly what it’s tag line suggest -“in 1945 the Nazis went to the Moon, in 2018 they’re coming back”. Little thought has been given towards expanded this idea beyond a misguided attempt at political satire in the shape of a cringeworthy Sarah Palin parody (a joke which in 5 years time will be as redundant and dated as the film’s admittedly low budget effects) and before long it becomes apparent that unless you find cheap, idiotic jokes built around racial stereotypes amusing, there’s little here to keep you entertained.

Whilst Iron Sky’s lunar Nazi base (shaped like a swastika and located on the dark side of the moon) contains some genuinely inventive props and set design, the film’s general feel is cheap and plastic – an element amplified by some horrendous dialogue that would seem trite in even the most appalling of porn films, delivered with the type of acting you expect to find in a ‘made for TV’ film screening on some obscure satellite channel.

There are a few moments of joy to be harvested from Iron Sky’s childish antics. Some of the film’s early comedy (before its reliance on immature humour becomes too overbearing) are genuinely funny – with sections of the Berlinale audience in fits of laughter. Some smart jibes built around Nazi propaganda work well, especially a rather wonderful use of Charlie Chaplin’s world famous ‘short film’ The Great Dictator (1940). However, these modest moments of enjoyment are fleeting and for the majority of the film’s runtime we’re assaulted with a barrage of repetitive and increasingly tiresome jokes that would fail to make even the most dedicated ‘Allo ‘Allo! fan raise a wry smile.

Thanks to some clever marketing Iron Sky is destined to find itself an audience amongst the most fervent of cult cinema fans – undeniably a Plan B from Outer Space (1959) for a modern generation. However this shouldn’t mask its abundance of flaws – a one note joke extended over 97 unimpressive, disappointing and incredibly tedious minutes.

For more Berlin Film Festival 2012 coverage, simply follow this link.

London’s Prince Charles Cinema will be exclusively screening Iron Sky for a whole week, beginning on 23 May. Book your tickets at princecharlescinema.com.  

Patrick Gamble