Iron Sky – The Dictator’s Cut Review
What’s It About? The tagline of sci-fi black-comedy Iron Sky reads: “In 1945 The Nazis Went To The Moon. In 2018 They Are Coming Back”. And as taglines go, that is surely one of the most enticing. In their 73 years spent camped out on the dark side of the Moon, the Nazis have built a swastika-shaped space fortress in which they practise further indoctrination of their people and develop a fleet of spaceships in preparation for their return trip to Earth.
Verdict: When Iron Sky first arrived in 2012, after a long time in the making, it was greeted with largely negative reviews. Many critics concluded that its undeniably strong premise failed to blossom into a fully rounded whole. But what a premise it is; Moon-dwelling Nazis plotting an invasion of Earth is the basis of sci-fi B-movie gold. Having pitched to financial backers at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival with a demo reel and finding part of its budget through crowd funding, Iron Sky may have suffered as a result of expectations being raised long before its actual release.
The film opens with a US Moon landing which seems to be taking place solely to support the re-election campaign of the right-wing, Sarah Palin-parodying US President played by Stephanie Paul. The two astronauts stumble across the Nazi Moon settlement resulting in the death of one and the capture of the other. The captured astronaut is actually a black male model, James Washington (Christopher Kirby), sent along on the Moon mission as a campaign stunt aimed at portraying the President as a progressive, equal opportunities politician.
James is taken to the new Fuhrer, Wolfgang Kortzfleisch (Udo Kier), but the real bad guy is Klaus Adler (Gotz Otto) who has dictatorial ambitions of his own. Along with mad scientist Doktor Richter, Adler seeks to turn James into a member of the Aryan race through the process of albinisation. They then realise that James has two things of vital importance to the Nazis and their invasion plans: a link to the US President and a modern computer (i.e. his mobile phone).
Renate, daughter of Doktor Richter and fiancée of Klaus, is James’s only hope. She’s a sympathetic character who believes that the Nazis are a force for good who want only to improve the world; oblivious to the reality of Nazi rule past and future, she provides the film with some of its greatest comic scenes. She teaches children about the importance of the Nazis and their role on Earth and to demonstrate this she presents to them one of the greatest “short films” ever made. The short film being the start of Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator in which Chaplin’s Hitler parody dances around with an inflatable globe in his hands before the film cuts out.
Iron Sky is at its best on the Moon where, for such a low budget film, the design and visual effects are quite stunning; once the invasion of Earth is underway, however, something is lost. Without the beautifully rendered CG to fall back on, the scenes seem a little pedestrian and underwhelming placed next to the Moon-based sequences. The Dictator’s Cut sees 20 minutes of largely unnecessary extra footage added; horror and arthouse heavyweight Udo Kier is criminally underused but at least gets a little more screen time in this cut, still you can’t help but feel that such a great actor could have been put to better use.
To say Iron Sky relies entirely on its visual craftsmanship would be harsh, though many of the film’s greatest pleasures are derived from this. Despite its flaws, it’s hard to be too critical of a movie which succeeds in so many areas in which many other high concept movies fall flat on their face. If it’s not B-movie gold, then it at least gets the silver.
Extras: As well as the 20 minutes of extra footage, the Dictator’s Cut comes with a 32-page booklet with concept artwork and a 75-minute making of documentary. The steelbook also features collector’s embossed casing.
Final Words: Although its attempt at political satire doesn’t always come off and the jokes are hit and miss, Iron Sky is a very competent B-movie which strikes a reasonable balance between Carry On camp and sci-fi. Strong performances and expertly designed visuals place it a cut above most other low-budget high concept movies.
Iron Sky: The Dictator’s Cut on limited edition, special steelbook embossed format, is available to buy today and can be ordered on Amazon.