A version of this review appeared in The Age, May 10, 2012.
Are Nazis funny? Mel Brooks proved they can be, at least in defeat: The Producers is nothing if not a tap dance on Hitler's grave. This premise of this Finnish-German-Australian science-fiction satire is less reassuring, positing a fresh generation of young Aryans born and bred on the moon – where their forebears fled in 1945 – and itching to spread the gospel of racial purity.
Previously best-known for his Star Trek parodies, the Finnish director Timo Vuorensola has conceived Iron Sky as a political cabaret in a genre frame – the kind of thing Joe Dante pulled off in Homecoming, his 2005 horror-comedy about the Iraq war. Earth's last best hope is an African-American male model turned astronaut (Christopher Kirby) launched into space as a publicity stunt to aid the re-election of a future US president (Stephanie Paul) closely resembling Sarah Palin, who spends her days climbing a Stairmaster in the Oval Office while surrounded by her hunting trophies.
Though the gag of equating Nazis and present-day Republicans shows a willingness to boldly venture into new worlds of bad taste, the novelty value soon wears off. Much of the would-be edgy humour is feeble and misjudged, particularly when the hero is transformed into a white man by a modern Dr Strangelove (Tilo Prückner). For all his anti-American bravado, it's unlikely that Vuorensola would turn down a chance to direct in Hollywood: though his action sequences have a Thunderbirds stiffness, the special effects are far slicker than required by the Z-grade approach.