Sadly, a promising premise about Nazis invading from the moon is much more amusing in theory than in execution.

What’s not to like about a movie with Nazis from the moon invading Earth? With Udo Keir as the Fuehrer? The high concept behind sci-fi comedy “Iron Sky” is an immediate winner, and the trailer has already built an instant following via a viral marketing campaign, but sadly, the final product is much more amusing in theory than in execution. Made by the Finnish filmmakers behind the oft-downloaded “Star Wreck” spoof series, pic can at least count on support from its small army of fan investors, but otherwise, poor word of mouth may sabotage its plans for world domination.

At least the effects are pretty good. That’s especially true of the outer-space shots shown in the opening sequence, in which astronauts land on the moon in the year 2018 as a barely disguised campaign stunt to secure the re-election of the president of the United States (Stephanie Paul, a dead ringer for Sarah Palin). However, when the astronauts venture over the wrong moon hill, they come up against space-helmeted stormtroopers, sporting swastika armbands, who shoot one Earthling dead and take hostage the other, James Washington (Christopher Kirby), a brother from our planet chosen only for his media-friendly good looks and race.

Explicatory dialogue reveals that since 1945, a colony of escaped Nazis has been hiding out on the dark side of the moon, preparing for an invasion of their home planet that will establish the Fourth Reich as the new, new world order. Ailing Fuehrer Wolfgang Kortzfleisch (Kier, underused) has chosen strapping Aryan Klaus Adler (Goetz Otto) as his successor, putting him in charge of the impending long-distance Blitzkrieg.

Adler has himself chosen zealously patriotic schoolteacher/scientist Renate Richter (Julia Dietze) to be his bride based on her eugenic charms. But Renate feels a spark of sympathy for Washington, whom her mad-scientist father (Tilo Prueckner) has turned into a white man via “albinizing” injection.

One way or another, they all end up back on Earth, and through a tortuously silly turn of events, Adler and Renate end up being spokespeople for the president after winning support from her ruthless campaign manager, Vivian Wagner (Peta Sergeant). But when Renate runs into Washington on the streets, he manages to enlighten her about the true history of her Nazi heritage, a process that involves getting her to see the full-length version of Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator,” one of the pic’s better gags.

The film’s other funny joke is the reveal in a U.N. Council meeting that every developed nation had used its satellites to make secret weapons of destruction — except Finland, that is. Unfortunately, apart from some passable knockabout stuff and a few other visual gags, that’s about it, and even over the course of the pic’s lean 92-minute running time, it never feels like much more than an overextended comedy sketch, the medium where helmer Timo Vuorensola learned his trade.

Ultimately, “Iron Sky” is neither good enough to rep a proper breakout hit nor bad enough that it might attain cult status; it’s just kind of lame, the worst of all possible worlds.

Iron Sky

Finland-Germany-Australia

Production

A Blind Spot Pictures, 27 Films Prod., New Holland Pictures production, in association with YLE, with the support of the Finnish Film Foundation, Hessen-Invest Film, Eurimages, DFFF, Screen Queensland, Nordisk Film & TV Fond, Media Development Media 121, in cooperation with Yleisradio. (International sales: Stealth Media Group, Los Angeles.) Produced by Oliver Damian, Tero Kaukomaa, Samuli Torssonen, Cathy Overett, Mark Overett. Executive producers, San Fu Maltha, Michael Cowan, Sean O'Kelly, Jason Piette. Directed by Timo Vuorensola. Screenplay, Michael Kalesniko, Timo Vuorensola, based on a story by Johanna Sinisalo, Michael Kalensniko, and a concept by Jarmo Puskala.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Mika Orasmaa; editor, Suresh Ayyar; music, Laibach; production designer, Ulrika von Vegesack; art director, Jussi Lehtiniemi; costume designer, Jake Collier; sound (Dolby Digital), Heiko Mueller; visual effects supervisor, Samuli Torssonen; visual effects, Tuotantoyhtio Energia; stunt coordinator, Darko Tuscan; assistant director, Peter McLennan; casting, Uwe Buenker. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama Special), Feb. 12, 2012. Running time: 92 MIN.

With

Julia Dietze, Goetz Otto, Christopher Kirby, Tilo Prueckner, Udo Kier, Peta Sergeant, Stephanie Paul, Michael Cullen. (German, English dialogue)

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