Visually impressive and with an incredibly authentic atmosphere, it’s so strange that Moon 44 turned out to be just a mediocre science fiction movie. If you’re looking for that gritty and realistic atmosphere of the eighties, reminiscent of Blade Runner and Alien, well, you’ve found it. Directed by Roland Emmerich (Universal Soldier, Stargate, Independence Day, Godzilla) and starring young B-movie legend Michael Paré, this movie has one of the most impressive set designs I have ever seen. Everything feels gritty and greasy with intricate machinery in the background.
Moon 44 is the definition of style over substance as the story is paper-thin. I didn’t care about any of the characters although they went through some pretty bad stuff. The forced and cliched dynamic of nerds and prisoners having to work together in order to succeed was eventually pointless as there was no grand pay-off. And I know that this is a bit of a (A BIT OF A) spoiler but that’s just how things stand with this movie. You can see all the elements that came so well together in future Emmerich’s movies along with his cooperation with Dean Devlin. I think that the main thing that Moon 44 is missing is the well-defined villain. He would focus much of the disjointed storyline.
It is the year of our lord Satan 2038 and all the natural resources on Earth have been depleted. The corporations took control of the economy and governmental institutions battling for mineral-rich asteroids in the Outer Zone. One of such highly contested places is Moon 44, with rich ore deposits. Galactic Mining corporation hires Felix Stone as an undercover agent to find out why their mining operation on this moon is not going so well. Along with him, they’ve also sent a contingent of prisoners to fly the drones and try to maintain control over the moon.
The bleak and pretty realistic future features a fully fleshed-out world where you get the feeling that things are also happening everywhere else and not just in this small installation. The drones look pretty good and you’ll be waiting for the next action sequence to see them flying “top-gun” style through the canyons of this desolate place. Moon 44 serves as a great piece of escapism and can get you in the right mood for gritty science fiction movies of the eighties.
After all, it seems that everybody smokes everywhere in 2038. It doesn’t matter if you just got into a meeting or are about to fly an expensive drone fighter, it’s always a good time to light one up. If you liked the whole prisoner dynamic you might want to check out Lockout, a pretty underrated science fiction gem from 2009. Outland, Spacehunter and Space Truckers are also good choices.
Director: Roland Emmerich
Writers: Dean Heyde, Oliver Eberle, Roland Emmerich, Oliver Eberle, Dean Heyde, P.J. Mitchell
Cast: Michael Paré, Lisa Eichhorn, Dean Devlin, Brian Thompson, Stephen Geoffreys, Malcolm McDowell, Leon Rippy, Calvin Burke
Fun Facts: This movie was released on VHS by CBS/Fox Video in Australia and New Zealand in 1991
IMDb Link: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097910/