Thursday, February 12, 2009

Moon 44

The Movie: Moon 44

Year: 1990

Director: Roland Emmerich

Cast: Michael Paré, Dean Devlin, Leon Rippy, Brian Thompson, Malcolm McDowell, Stephen Geoffreys, Lisa Eichhorn, Roscoe Lee Browne, Jochen Nickel, Mechimed Yilmaz.

MPAA Rating: R

Format Viewed: DVD (R1)

Label: Artisan

Runtime: 102 min (listed); 100 min (actual)

The DVD: Bare bones, full screen, with decent sound but grainy video that seems too dark at times.

Premise: In the future Earth's resources have been depleted forcing man to turn to space. Resource acquisitions in space are controlled by paramilitary mining conglomerates. Hostile takeovers are literally just that, hostile takeovers with the asteroid, moon, or planetary holding of a corporation being forcefully annexed. As usual the workers, being on the front line, get the sh!t end of the stick.

The Reality: Michael Paré gets to do what he does best, play a misunderstood tough guy who saves the day by the skin of his brooding antihero teeth no thanks to the evil authority figures; the rest of the movie is just window dressing.

The Story: While in the middle of a hostile takeover Galactic Mining Corporation discovers their shuttles are mysteriously disappearing from Moon 44, which also happens to be the next of their resource moons in line for acquisition by rival, Pyrite Corporation. The reaction of Galactic Mining's bigwigs? Outfit the moon with attack helicopters, send in a bunch of prisoners to be pilots and, oh yeah, have one of their Internal Affairs officers pose as a prisoner to infiltrate the mining facility in order to do a bit of detective work. What?
I don't even know where to begin. The Pyrite Corporation has this hulking carrier mothership full of space fighters piloted by SHORT CIRCUIT robot clones. .

If you don't see the problem then let me spell it out: Modern militaries don't send helicopters against jets so why would the producers think an modern audience would find it remotely plausible helicopters could go up against what are, one assumes, rocket powered spaceships?

My guess: BLUE THUNDER started a trend in helicopter themed action-adventure movies that spanned the mid 80s to mid 90s. MOON 44 is BLUE THUNDER in a OUTLAND setting. Problem is someone wasn't using all the cognitive faculties G-d gave them when they pitched this, either that or something went wrong between the premise stage and production. For instance it seems the script writer never heard of missiles. If I were chairmen of GMC, that's what I'd be looking into. Sentry missile platforms. I'd ring my moons with defensive missile batteries and a few laser platforms to. .

Wait, what am I saying? These are supposed to be CORPORATIONS for the love of Mercury. What the heck are they doing blowing up assets?

Assessment/ Verdict: MOON 44 is a charming yet convoluted action flick attempting to meld too many concepts into a amalgamated dark future sci-fi setting. First, the evil mega-corporation common to the cyberpunk genre. Second, the choice to try to cash in on the low budget TOP GUN styled helicopter combat flicks of the 80s (BLUE THUNDER, AIRWOLF, FIRE BIRDS, &tc). Third, the inclusion of a totally superfluous rape-revenge subplot. Fourth, a ludicrous premise involving prisoners impressed into service as fighter jocks. Put together it makes for one fine mess.

I originally saw this back in the 90s probably around the time it hit video. A friend rented this and came over saying he had a movie I must see. Before revisiting MOON 44 I remembered it as gritty, like OUTLAND, with great miniature work that gives it a je ne sais quoi that set it apart from similar DTV fare. .

Yet I only vaguely recollected the story. Having revisited it I'd like to send a note to the writer(s), producers, et al: THIS IS SET IN SPACE! Couldn't you take the time to learn sci-fi lingo? I mean, c'mon, what's up with this. .

Airport? Even a teenage mutant samurai squirrel would know if you set something in space and have spaceship's it's called a SPACE PORT! But, wait. .

Aircraft? Either the writer was a hack just lazily retooling a spec script who couldn't be bothered to update the terminology to fit the genre his script was being adapted for or someone working the computer SFX dropped the ball. While we're nitpicking a movie several decades after it's release I have two words to add: MASS DRIVER.

If I'm CEO of an evil space corporation why waste money on drones and carrier craft? It's not cost effective. If I, evil corporate CEO, want to take over another corporation's planetary holdings, and I'm vile enough to launch a destructive assault, a simple mass driver enabled vessel to launch a ship-to-ground bombardment should do the trick nicely. Also, attaching engines to a few asteroids and flying them into the planetary ops center could work. Then again why, if I were looking to take over operations, would I want to blow up the ops center? If I blow it up that means I have to build my own ops center, which means expending yet more money and resources! It would be strategically, not to mention economically, better to take over operations, including the equipment and personnel- whose contracts can always be renegotiated- as intact as possible. But I digress.

It may look dated, the plot may have flaws, but MOON 44 is proof a decent looking sci-fi movie can be made on a budget. If you're tired of Sci-Fi channel's "original" movies with their crappy CGI rent MOON 44. It may surprise you.


Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan

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