Freshly acquired from this year’s Horror-Rama, this week’s VHS is Roland Emmerich’s 1990 sci-fi flick Moon 44.
Set in 2038, IA agent Felix Stone (Michael Paré) is sent undercover to a remote mining colony with a bunch of convicts to investigate some stolen shuttles filled with precious ore.
After watching Emmerich’s 1985 effort Making Contact this summer I was kind of hoping for something equally bonkers, but somewhat disappointingly Moon 44 was a fairly standard representation of the nineties sci-fi that populated video store shelves around that time. I mean, the ambition was there as the first act saw Emmerich reach for the lofty world building heights of Blade Runner and Aliens, but it gets bogged down in its plot. I found it often took itself too seriously, as well.
As with most direct-to-video sci-fi (it did play theatrically overseas) it had a pretty solid cast in Paré, along with Brian Thompson, Stephen Geoffreys (basically playing a drug dealing Evil Ed) and Malcolm McDowell, who despite having gone grey by then still looked young as fuck. Also, was it just me or was Leon Rippy the only one sweating profusely throughout this movie?
Fundamentally, I thought this movie needed more dog-fighting. By utilizing sweet practical effects, they definitely made up the best parts of the movie. Moon 44 built to a climax where convicts were being trained to fight incoming robot pirates and when they arrived, only Paré and Thompson fought them – and not even together! I know I know, budgets, but imagine if at the end of The Magnificent Seven, five of them decided to stay at the saloon.
Perhaps the most distressing and ill-advised part of the movie was when it's implied that one of the navigators was raped in the shower by a pilot. Considering that when the pilots are actually in the air, their lives are in the hands of their navigator – in a tandem even more unclear than the one in Pacific Rim – I really don’t think the assaulter really thought things through. Things don’t end up well for either of them.
As far as sci-fi space mining movies go, I have to say – and I can’t believe I am – Gary S. Tunnicliffe’s Within The Rock is the more entertaining joint. Moon 44 was certainly watchable fare, but it’s just a hair before Emmerich started positioning himself as the filmmaker we all know and love/hate.