The year is 2018, and The United States of America have sent a new manned mission to the moon, this time to investigate the dark side which the people of Earth never see. But when the craft lands and the pair of astronauts emerge, after surveying the vista before them one notices something strange in the landscape: a huge moonbase in the shape of a swastika, and worse than that, some figures loom up behind him and open fire, killing him instantly. His fellow astronaut watches horrified as the uniformed troops advance on him... who can they possibly be?
The answer to that is they're Moon Nazis, a remnant of the end of World War II as a whole army of German men, women and children escaped their defeat at the hands of the Allies and ventured into space in flying saucers of urban legend, setting up a refuge on our satellite where they have been licking their wounds, and more sinister, drawing up plans for a return with their increasingly refined technology. Iron Sky was notable for many things, but one of them was the way it began as a project on the internet and blossomed out into a special effects extravaganza thanks both to the dedication of the filmmakers, and the fans they amassed there who really wanted to see this idea come to fruition.
Many of those fans put their own money into the movie's creation, and were thanked in the end credits - and aficionados of cult cinema could thank them as well, for Iron Sky stood head and shoulders above its contemporary low budget science fiction movies with a gloss to its appearance which belied its comparitively meagre funds. Helping was that this was no Uwe Boll style of scattershot satire where being offensive was more of the joke than actually having something the audience could think over, and for all its broad targets there was a keen intelligence here which not simply made it funny (and it was at times very funny), but had a streak of philosophising about the militarisation of global relations.
Naturally, the United States came in for a hefty dose of sending up, but this was balanced by the surviving astronaut character, James Washington (Christopher Kirby) who is as American as apple pie, but far from unsympathetic, no matter that he's a model whose been sent on the moon mission by a Sarah Palin-esque President (Stephanie Paul) because it was a good public relations strategy in an election year. He finds himself in a hotbed of evil ideology on one hand, and misguided innocents on another, the former represented by Udo Kier's Fuhrer and his soon to be replacement Klaus Adler (Götz Otto), the latter by Adler's fiancée Renate Richter (Julia Dietze) who teaches the children what decent chaps the original Nazis were and how they just wanted the best for their country.
A theme of political awakening was gradually drawn out of the laughs, so while there were such goofy plot points as Washington being turned white by the Nazi scientists to make him more palatable to them, there was also Renate's well-meaning nature made aware that she's been backing the wrong horse since birth thanks to brainwashing, summed up in a nice detail of thinking Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator was a flattering short subject on Adolf Hitler, when in fact she sees the whole thing in a New York cinema and realises how mistaken she has been. This wasn't all surprisingly subtle social comment, though the essential sorrow of what ends the story was neatly portrayed as director Timo Vuorensola brought his expertise with amateur but still superb special effects to bear on space battles with intricately designed ships and destruction, a true spectacle light years ahead of what most less ambitious works might have achieved. With a pin sharp sense of just how lunatic humankind can get in the bigger picture, Iron Sky was a triumph. Music by Laibach, too!