Monday, February 13, 2012

REVIEW: Moon Zero Two

Moon Zero Two
Director: Roy Ward Baker
Year 1969
It’s Sci-Fi Hammer time! Moon Zero Two is a groovy science fiction film produced by the British horror house, Hammer Film Productions. Set in the far psychedelic future, when man has colonized the moon, space pilot Captain William H. Kemp is offered a lucrative yet illegal job of guiding a sapphire meteor to crash land on the moon’s surface in order for a rich tycoon to become, well, richer.
That’s not Kemp’s only moral dilemma, for a beautiful young woman has asked the captain to help assist her on tracking down her lost brother, a moon miner who has suddenly come up missing. Caught between a rock and a hard place, Kemp must figure out how to do both jobs, while staying out of the watchful eyes of the moon police. But what happens when the two jobs become intertwined and Kemp’s personal interests become entangled? Find out in Moon Zero Two….. in space!

The film stars James Olson, of The Andromeda Strain, Amityville 2: The Possession, and Commando fame, as the retired exploration pilot Capt. William Kemp. Olson does a tremendous job in making the character brooding, yet at the same time allowing him to appear like one hell of a cool and fun guy. This swinging astronaut spends most of his time at the wild moon bar, where gaggles of cleavage baring chorus girls provide the patrons some rather interesting dance numbers, but if you can’t find him there, you might find him sulking in a corner reminiscing about how space exploration has been given the ax thanks to budgetary reasons. Poor Kemp.

Don’t feel so bad for the guy just yet, because his life is pretty damn good. Aside from the spandex loving chorus girls, Kemp has his hands full with a few more moon beauties. There’s Elizabeth Murphy, a strict but fair Moon authority, played by Adrienne Corri, who happens to regularly find Kemp relaxing between the sheets on her beyond trippy bed. Then there’s Clementine Taplin, played by Catherine Schell, who has the role of the “fish out of water” girl, who is looking for her missing brother. Both women do a great job in fleshing out Kemp’s character a bit more, allowing for us to witness a gentler side of the Captain. Kemp you old softy.

This film isn’t all about Kemp and his ladies though, far from it. It has a rather interesting story, albeit a far fetched one, filled with a good amount of action and intrigue. I’d go as far as to say that Kemp’s character serves as a futuristic James Bond, pitting him up against an evil genius bent on diabolical plans. The film also allows Kemp to provide some witty and genuinely smart ass lines that wouldn’t be so out of place in the Bond universe. Add the fact that Kemp is frequently getting into some romantically intriguing situations with a few choice femme fatales, makes it that much more familiar to a 60’s spy flick.
There’s also a great deal of twists and turns in the narrative that I personally felt were creative and interesting. The film feels like a straight forward affair when first introduced, but you come to find later that there is a great deal of weight to the story, that’s hidden under the wacky psychedelic presentation of the set designs and comedic filled flare.

I especially enjoyed the miniature work done on this film. We get a wonderfully retro envisioned Moon colony, filled with glass domed communities, expansive monorail traveled terrain, and architecturally diverse cityscapes, all from a modest budget. It’s a quaint re-imagining on what society would be like on the Moon’s surface while being embedded with the style and sassiness of the time period in which the film was created in. I’ve always loved this vision of the future and I absolutely eat up the scenery whenever I come across one of these interesting snapshots of 60’s injected future worlds. Moon Zero Two is a great example of this mind set, and the addition of the enjoyable similarities between Kemp’s reluctant hero/ pseudo spy and the staples of the Bond universe and other Eurospy agents is just silly and extremely entertaining. They don’t make them like this anymore and that is a sad but all too real fact.

Moon Zero Two is somewhat of an enigma in the Hammer Films library. While they dabbled in various science fiction themed movies, none of them went as out of left field as this one. Played more for the fun factor of it all, Kemp’s heroic turn as a morally incorruptible space adventurer is a blast, giving us another memorable and wise cracking guy to look up to.

Though the set designs and miniature work are modest at best, there is a special charm found within the production. Simply put, the film just screams fun. If you’re looking for a serious trip into the great unknown or a contemplative look at our society living amongst the stars, then I suggest you look elsewhere. Moon Zero Two doesn’t concern itself with such matters. It only aims to deliver a fun, retro infused ride, and that’s exactly what it accomplishes. Here’s to Kemp and to a movie that is just……..

No way! We've landed on the MOON!

Nice fuckin model!

Get outta here you little pervert!

I'm not talking to you until you take off that ridiculous hat.

Look, I can see my house from here.

The future looks good!

Moonopoly..... Priceless!

Did I forget to turn the iron off again?

Well one of us farted in this elevator.

It's the super group Mr. Peanut and the Fabulous Fruits!

Looks like this dude is pulling a Tom Petty.... Free Falling!


Where do you boys come up with these crazy suits?

Now that's some cool ass shit right there!

Alright, everyone smile and say.... Space sucks. That's gonna be a good one!

Kemp..... William Kemp. Bitches!

1 comment:

  1. I love this movie... AND your review! I also love the MST3K treatment it gets. But most of all... I love this movie.