When director Timo Vuorensola made his feature debut with 2012’s Iron Sky, many likely presumed – this writer included – that a film centered on Moon Nazis likely wouldn’t make a splash, let alone create a cult following, when it hit U.S. shores. Though the critical reception was weak, the audience felt differently, enabling Vuorensola and company to develop a comic book, video game, board game, and now a sequel, Iron Sky: The Coming Race. The first film is sci-fi powered by pure socio-political satire as an alternate timeline is presented where a small contingent of Nazis survived World War II by fleeing to the dark side of the moon, where they waited for the right time to attack. The Coming Race still contains the satirical elements of its predecessor while dropping the hardcore socio-political elements in favor of weaponizing conspiracy theories of lizard people and the Illuminati. This may not seem like a good time, yet there’s something so refreshing, so pure, about the Iron Sky series in what it attempts, that audiences can’t help but get swept up in its wake.
In 2018, as the United Nations celebrated their victory over the Fourth Reich hiding on the moon, a secret agenda is pushed forward, causing nuclear war to break out. The only hope for humanity was to vacate Earth and take up shelter on the moon with the remaining Nazi forces. Now 2047, with less than 2,000 survivors remaining, hope is a dirty word and salvation is found with the Jobsists, led by Donald (Tom Green). As the base’s only mechanic and the daughter of the leaders of the previous rebellion, Obianaju “Obi” Washington (Lara Rossi) isn’t happy just tending to the day-to-day problems, nor is she a believer in the great Steve Jobs. She wants real solutions to extend their lives and perhaps give humanity a second chance. That opportunity arrives when Obi finds Moon Fuherer Wolfgang Kortzfleisch (Udo Kier), thought dead, who gives her the true history of Earth, the Vril (alien shapeshifters who want Earth back for themselves), and the very hope she needs. With some help and a lot of luck, Obi unknowingly sets out to complete the mission her parents first started.
The Coming Race is the rare sequel which improves upon the original. For audiences who haven’t seen the original, the opening offers a montage and voiceover to set up the rest of the film so that everything else can take off. The pacing is tighter, the action more even in tone across the film, and the narrative isn’t swallowed by the satire. All of these coalesce into a surprising and fun experience. Are some of the jokes more on the nose this time around? Yes. There’s a cult leader named Donald who spouts the eternal promise of Apple’s closed system to the survivors on the moon base while clearly looking for ways to keep himself on top. In a sequence which sees the ranking members of the Vril gathering together, it’s presented as a twisted version of the Last Supper. By itself, that last bit is not particularly shocking, but if you consider that each individual present is not only an alien shapeshifter, but also a well-known political figure in some kind of apocalypse-theory-gone-right way, it’s downright hilarious. That said, even with several aspects made more plain, none of them lose their bite when taken as a whole. This is a story featuring the last vestiges of humanity fighting against the alien race that destroyed Earth. This isn’t high class entertainment, but it never aspires to be. That said, it knows exactly what it is and revels in it. Take Moon Trooper Malcom (Kit Daye), who volunteers to join Obi on her quest. He’s sweet, tough, and gets himself battle ready with his favorite shirt: a red one. Anyone who’s seen Star Trek knows what that means and The Coming Race plays with that, and other expectations, time and again to mine its comedy.
Much of what works about The Coming Race comes down to the script. Written by Vuorensola and Dalan Musson from a story devised by returning concept devisors Jarmo Puskala and Johanna Sinisalo, and newcomer Samuli Tossonen, The Coming Race is tight and neat in its execution. The original required a great deal of world building in the alt-reality, introducing characters, motivations, and the like before the big reveal at the end. With the majority of that done, The Coming Race can immediately play within the world and not a second of it is wasted. Granted a great deal of voiceover is utilized to keep things moving, but, when considered as a space western, the voiceover works. Additionally, even with new characters being introduced, their tether to the original helps add weight to the events. This is lessoned somewhat for audience less familiar with the original Iron Sky, but for audiences who’ve been clamoring for a sequel for seven years, there are moments exhilarating (ever wanted to see someone jump side kick a T-Rex?) and morose which make The Coming Race seem more than just giddy fun. As the middle film of the Moon Nazi Trilogy (the final film titled The End Game currently in development), The Coming Race comes with an expectation that it will bear the burden of closing out one story while starting another. Amazingly, it does both while feeling like a solo film audiences can see without knowledge of the others.
Though the satire prevalent in the original outing is significantly shifted to the side in favor of a more action-adventure focus, the very things that audiences enjoyed about Iron Sky remain within The Coming Race. There’s an inventiveness in the way the script plays with expectations and the cast is completely on-board, giving totally believable performances in the most absurd situations and you can see every penny of the 2013 Indiegogo campaign up on the scene. If you didn’t know that The Coming Race was crowd-funded, you wouldn’t notice it except in a few places. But honestly, who cares how good the dinos look when the sets, facial applications/prosthetics, F/X, and costumes make everything – even the most outlandish – absolutely believable. Frankly, any chance to watch Hitler get killed again is worth the price of admission. So strap in and get yourselves ready for a return to the Iron Sky Universe. Reentry may be bumpy, but the ride is smooth.
Iron Sky: The Coming Race premiered in Finland January 2019 and Germany May 2019. Fans in the United States will get their chance to see the next film in the Moon Base Trilogy in select theaters, VOD, and digital beginning July 19th, 2019.
For more information on The Coming Race, The End Game, or other properties in the Iron Sky Universe, head to the official website.
Final Score: 4 out of 5.