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Moon Zero Two (1969)

Moon Zero Two, Hammer's answer to Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey.  While that film took Kubrick three years to make, Hammer was able to crank theirs out in three months.  It was all a plan to capitalize on the upcoming American moon landing, and the film's writer (Michael Carreras) was quite certain Moon Zero Two would be one of Hammer's biggest hits, leading to a television show and an already in the works sequel.  But as was the case with many of Hammer's over enthusiastic endeavors they usually never turned out to be as grand as those involved had hope for.

It's the year 2021 and like all things in life once a massive accomplishment is achieved it's usually exploited for financial gain.  A colony has begun on the Moon, mainly for mining purposes, yet certain corporations have begun to shuttle people to and from for a hefty profit.  One of the few veteran pilots staying away from the corporate mundane flying life is Bill Kemp.  Kemp was the first man to fly to Mars, and still has aspirations to fly to Jupiter and other far away planets, but people's drive to explore has begun to fizzle as the corporations have decided profit is more important.

Therefore Kemp sticks to himself and pilots an old spacecraft with his engineer, ferrying people around the moon and exploring space for valuable junk to salvage.  On his return trip to the Moon he meets Clementine Taplin, a lovely young lady searching for her brother who had been mining on the other side of the Moon for two years and had recently relayed a message to her that he'd made a big discovery.  But no one has heard or seen her brother for months, so she enlists the help of Kemp to find him.  Kemp is also approached by wealthy mad man J.J. Hubbard with the offer of a job that could financially secure his future.  Hubbard wants Kemp to divert the course of giant sapphire asteroid and crash it into the unpopulated side of the Moon, but what Kemp doesn't yet realize is the connection between Hubbard and Clementine's missing brother.

For one of Hammer's more expensive endeavors Moon Zero Two is visually pretty amazing, I'll admit I've never seen 2001: A Space Odyssey and I'm sure in terms of special effects and visual layout it's leagues ahead, but considering the fact that Hammer is a relatively small production company with a meager budget and only a couple months in which to film, I was pretty impressed.  In terms of the story Moon Zero Two has a nice blend of drama, action and comedy, although more action definitely would have helped to keep the film from slowing down in the first half.  Also as is the case for most Hammer films there are a few inconsistencies.  In this film the idea of being able to shoot a gun in space.  Hammer didn't bother developing laser guns they actually used revolvers, which I believe wouldn't shoot the same as they would on Earth.  It's during this outside gun battle that Moon Zero Two begins to lose a little of it's ambiance and becomes more like bunch of guys in Moon suits fighting in the desert.

Overall, Moon Zero Two is a not a bad film (even though MST3K did a show on it) but like most of the critics said when it was first released, it's quite an average one.  Other than Hammer's good visual execution, set design, and models nothing else about the story or the acting is anything amazing.  Still that doesn't make this one worth skipping, being one of Hammer's few space films if you're a Hammer fan or a science fiction nut it's definitely worth looking up when you have a little free time.


1 comment:

  1. I have a real soft-spot for MZ2. It's just so...60s!


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