STARRING: Michael Paré, Lisa Eichhorn, Malcolm McDowell, Dean Devlin, Brian Thompson, Stephen Geoffreys, Mechmed Yilmaz, Leon Rippy, Roscoe Lee Browne

1990, 102 Minutes, Directed by: Roland Emmerich

moon44a.jpg (9855 bytes)Moon 44’s sole claim to fame is that it is the last movie director Roland Emmerich directed in his native West Germany before going on to Hollywood to make hits such as Universal Soldier, StarGate, Independence Day and most recently, Godzilla.

An English language movie starring such minor "stars" such as Michael Paré (The Philadelphia Experiment, Streets Of Fire) and Malcolm McDowell (Clockwork Orange, Tank Girl) it is set in a near future where Earth, depleted of its natural resources, depends on the ores mined on distant planets by huge multinational companies.

In fact, multinational companies have supplanted traditional nation states and like nations of old they too wage physical war against each other. One such company has been prey to a rival’s company’s attacks and, deciding that it is all an inside job, sends an undercover investigator (Paré) to "Moon 44" – probably the rival company’s next target.

Nothing original here. Nor come to think of it, anywhere else. The movie’s visual sense borrows heavily from mostly James Cameron’s 1986 Aliens and, of course, Blade Runner. Although the film was obviously done on smallish budget, director Emmerich has to be commended on doing a respectable job on the sprawling sets and special effects.

However, he cannot be commended on the film itself. Moon 44 is dreary and slow-paced (despite its reasonably short running time). Its biggest problem is its script, which is filled to the brim with clichés and predictable to the bone.

When we in the audience sees McDowell as the station commander we immediately know that he is the bad guy behind everything. Besides, what does he play nowadays except for bad guy roles? We know immediately when a youngster is abused in a shower he will take revenge on his attacker and the circumstances in which this will happen. Instinctively we also know that he will commit suicide in his cell later on.

Also, we know that the classical literature reading undercover cop will somehow win the respect of his fellow co-pilots in some way and they will pull through for him. And so on. It is as if there are huge signposts throughout the movie indicating future plot developments!

When the movie has finally ground to its unsatisfying halt (without spoiling anything: just ask yourself how did they manage to get back to Earth?) one is left with a similar feeling one had at the end of Independence Day. Emmerich obviously has a talent for setting up impressive special effects sequences at a low budget and this has obviously made him a hot property in Hollywood.

But why can’t all the effort have been expended in aid of something more original and thought-provoking? What Emmerich needs is a good script . . . and not just for this particular movie . . .



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