A Cool Title Does Not Make a Good Movie:
Starring Walter Koenig, Bruce Campbell, and Leigh Lombardi
Written by Tex Ragsdale
Directed by Robert Dyke
Yes, it's Star Trek's Ensign Chekov at the helm of this piece of work. I'm proud to say I have this movie. Apparently, it's obscure. My copy was taped off satellite TV ten years ago, so the quality isn't great, but good enough to review.
We start with a caption: July 20, 1969. We get to watch the Apollo 11 moon landing for 1 minute and 32 seconds.
We cut to something racing under the lunar soil, like those worms from Tremors, but smaller and much faster. It turns out that it's a robot. It sticks its head out of the soil and watches the lunar lander take off through what I've christened Robo-vision, a pixilated and otherwise modified version of actual lander takeoff footage.
We get to the credits. While we read the names, we get to hear Chekov (sorry, can't help it) in the background, chatting with Houston. He must therefore be in space. They announce that it's 1990, the start of a brave new decade. They chat about golf and the weather. Chekov seems bored with his job, describing himself as a 'truck driver' who repairs broken satellites. We read from the credits that the special effects are done by 'Acme Special Effects', which doesn't bode well.
Finally, we get the title graphic. The name 'Moontrap' is the coolest thing about this movie. We cut to an exterior of the space shuttle Camelot, in orbit around the Earth. Koenig's character, Colonel Jason Grant, is trying to lighten the mood with some daydreaming. His co-pilot, Commander Ray Tanner (Bruce Campbell), is asleep in his seat. Grant complains about the astronaut food, and Mission Control tells him to stuff it. We get to see the Mission Control set, and it looks okay, if not a bit small.
Grant is in a bad mood. He wakes up Tanner with an alarm that he sets off. They talk a bit about their fighter pilot days, both knowing that their best days are behind them. They also tell us their fighter pilot nicknames. Grant's was 'Einstein'. Tanner's was 'The Penetrator', and Grant laughs about that.
Suddenly, the shuttle's radar system detects an unidentified object approaching them (I found out that the space shuttle does actually have a radar system). Grant checks this out, thinking it's some "lame duck satellite". The radar tells them that it's a quarter of a mile long.
We get a brief shot of the exterior of this unknown object.
Mission Control also sees it, and says that it's on an unusually long elliptical orbit, thus making it invisible until now. Hold on here. An object a quarter of a mile long simply cannot hide in Earth orbit and not be detected. In fifty years of radar and all through the Cold War, no one noticed this thing orbiting the Earth? No one saw such an enormous object?!
Let's move on. Mission Control says that there's no chance of collision between the shuttle and this thing, so they don't have to worry. Meanwhile, Grant gets an image of it from radar data. It looks like a spaceship. We get a shot of the shuttle approaching this huge ship. Mission Control radios in saying that this thing is going to reenter the atmosphere and burn up. Therefore, Houston requests that someone volunteer to go on an EVA and check this thing out. Tanner volunteers, but Grant orders him to stay and leaves the shuttle.
We cut to Grant floating outside the ship in a spacesuit. As he approaches the ship, he asks Tanner to check for any radiation. It's kind of a moot point now, since you're right on top of the thing, but never mind.
Hieroglyphics become visible, though they're unrecognizable. Grant looks at them for a moment, and then moves on to a breach in the hull. It looks like an explosion caused it. Inside the cavity is a watermelon-sized metal pod, which is relatively clean looking. Grant grabs it, and is unable to identify it. It doesn't look like it came from the ship. Grant turns to go, but sees an ancient looking corpse float right past him. It died in a sort of horrifying pose, mouth open and shoulders all twisted up.
We cut to stock footage of a nighttime space shuttle landing.
We then cut to a laboratory. The pod and the body are there, being examined. On the other side of a glass partition are Grant and Tanner, along with three other men. Grant tells us that the body is 14,000 years old. One guy, Haskell, is skeptical of these claims. Another man, an older scientist type, assures him that these are what the test results indicate, and that they're accurate. He goes on to say that the pod is hollow and made of a tough alloy. They can't open it without destroying it. Both the pod and the corpse were on the Moon 14,000 years ago. Haskell still doesn't believe it, thinking this is a scam on NASA's part to try and squeeze a little more money out of the Government. What a ridiculous thing to think. NASA itself would bring in independent scientists to verify any such claims. Everyone is outraged by Haskell's theory, especially Grant. They all agree to take a coffee break and calm down. The five men leave the lab unattended and unwatched. Wouldn't an artifact of such stunning scientific and cultural magnitude be crawling with scientists at all times?
Sinister music builds, and the pod opens up. A little robotic head extends out, with two organic looking tentacles.
Fig. 1 - Our antagonist
The robot makes a loud squealing sound, breaking the glass divider. It remotely seizes control of the lab computers to replay the analysis for, presumably, our benefit. The following information is irrelevant to the robot.
The computer says that the remains are actually human (!), and that they're 14,000 years old. We get to see the computer analyze the ancient astronaut's face for 23 seconds. The computer somehow reconstructs what the guy looked like, and he looked pretty human. The computer then reconstructs the guy's spacesuit, which is red, and his ship, which is big. It came from the moon, from Prometheus Crater. I checked this out, and found that there is no Prometheus Crater on our Moon. Of all the thousands of named craters on the Moon, screenwriter Tex Ragsdale decided to make up a crater. Way to go, Tex.
The robot ends the analysis replay by destroying the monitors in the lab. Throughout the whole scene, we hear some synthetic music. The entire soundtrack consists of MIDI-based sounds that could be called music. It gave me a headache.
In the elevator, the lights blink off while the robot wreaks havoc. The men inside curse the government for seemingly building a crappy elevator, but then the elevator restarts.
Grant warns Haskell that he will tell the President's advisory committee himself, bypassing Haskell. Haskell doesn't like that idea for some reason, so he is forced to listen to Grant's idea. Grant proposes a return to the Moon, to find what is there. More robots could lurk there, or maybe even a base of some kind. Haskell is, of course, shocked. Grant says that spare equipment from the Apollo program could be used, and Grant and Tanner could go themselves. All they need is a little federal money.
Back in the lab, the robot looks around. Its tentacles suddenly reach up, and pull some robotic arms down from the ceiling. Welding goes on, and it's apparent that the robot has attached the arms to itself, and is now able to use them.
The five guys walk. They seem to be the only people in this NASA facility, walking through empty hallways and past empty rooms. Grant outlines the possible benefits of such a Moon mission, and (naturally) the Russians are brought up. Apparently, they're planning to visit the Moon as well (and look what became of that!). Haskell is starting to warm to the idea.
An unidentified lady walks into the lab with a clipboard. She finds it trashed and dark inside. The body is missing. She calls security, and hears sounds from inside the room. She looks around, getting more and more frightened. Everything seems still. Suddenly, she gets grabbed and thrown against a wall, where she slides down to the floor. We see a pair of robotic feet stomping out of the lab.
We see Tanner trying to get some coffee out of an uncooperative coffee machine. Privately, Grant and Tanner are optimistic that the mission will happen. Grant swoops in for the kill. Ray is frustrated with the coffee machine.
Grant sits down with Haskell and the others, and says that to maintain secrecy, Grant and Tanner should go on the mission because they already know about the artifacts. They'd only need one other astronaut to pilot the orbiter while they would be on the surface, and Grant suggests Major George Beck. Tanner fights the coffee machine. Haskell criticizes the fact that Grant has already appointed himself commander of a mission that doesn't exist, as well as the fact that Grant is already assigning people to this mission. Grant demands to go to the Moon. He says he missed out on Apollo, and he won't miss this time. Tanner agrees.
Armed guards enter the lab and look around. They find the lady, dead. Then they're called to the basement.
Tanner kicks the coffee machine, and it finally gives him some coffee. He then introduces the moral of the film:
"We don't take no shit from a machine."
How intelligent of him. The guards rush by, saying there's an emergency. Disobeying the guard's instructions, Grant and the other men follow the guards to the basement. The guards position themselves at the end of a hallway, and in this hallway stands a huge robot. The guards are heavily armed. Who knew NASA offices were equipped with automatic weaponry?
We get a close up of the robot. It's an assembly of various parts from the lab, and it even incorporates parts from the ancient corpse, something I wouldn't do because a vacuum-dried corpse has got to be as brittle as hell. The pod is now its head. It looks mean.
The NASA guards are ready to fire, but the old scientist guy jumps in their way. He cries out about first contact and this being a great day for science. The sort of stuff you'd expect to hear from an oldish scientist type. He turns to the robot, and tries to be friendly with it. The robot stares down at him. The scientist asks for a sign, as if the dead woman in the lab is not enough of a sign. The robot fires something at the scientist that burns a small part of his sleeve. It must have hurt, because the scientist suddenly turns to the guards:
"Get the son of a bitch!"They open fire. The guns have little effect on the robot, which just stands there. It fires back with arcs of electricity. A fight ensues. The robot becomes surrounded with people, but seems to be doing a good job of defending itself. Meanwhile, Grant has the idea to crawl into the air vent, get above the robot, and shoot it from there. He slips into the vent, while Tanner keeps the robot distracted.
In the vent, Grant crawls forward. The robot looks up a few times, but Tanner distracts it by firing his gun. Some of the guards are unconscious or dead. Grant struggles with a vent, but gets it open and points his shotgun down at the robot's head. It looks up at him, but it's too late. Grant fires, and the robot literally falls to pieces like a piece of fine china. Someone could have tackled it to bring it down. Grant comes down, and asks Haskell if his mind is made up.
We cut to the interior of a house. A boy is reading 'Alien Encounters', a magazine that resembles one of those pulp magazines from the 50's. It turns out that this boy is Grant's son, who normally lives with his mother but today is visiting his father. Grant is doing pushups, and his son joins him for a while. The house looks futuristic, even for 1990. It doesn't look like an astronaut's house, but maybe one of an artist. Grant and his son get up, and they discuss mom. She's a health nut, who has started bodybuilding to get 'in touch with her body'. I'd say Grant got out of that marriage just in time. She sounds a bit flaky.
The phone rings. It's Tanner, and he sounds drunk. Grant takes the phone from his son, and says that he'll meet Tanner to pick him up from wherever he is. Grant urges Tanner to be quiet about the stuff they found from the Moon.
We cut to a strip club called 'Joey's'. We see a topless woman for approximately 9 seconds dancing. Tanner and George Beck are drinking, and the waitress is reluctant to give them more drinks because the two of them are quite hammered. Grant arrives, and asks them to leave with him before they tell anyone anything. I don't think, given the circumstances, they would be allowed off NASA property, but never mind. Tanner babbles at Grant, but gets around to telling him that the mission is go. The mission's priority will be to find if there are any more evil robot pods on the Moon and to destroy them. Tanner imitates Walter Cronkite briefly. Who hasn't? Grant is elated that he's going to the Moon. Perhaps I too will live to see men walking on the Moon. I wonder...
We briefly cut to stock footage of the Saturn V rocket, which was used in Apollo. Then we cut to the Moon. Could this have been any more abrupt? Either a) they REALLY wanted to keep this movie under what must have been a low budget, or b) they were going for some 2001: A Space Odyssey kind of cut. I highly suspect it was a).
So we're on the Moon. The first time I watched this movie, I even wondered if this was a fantasy/dream sequence just because of the abrupt nature of the cut. It starts out with Grant on a hill, looking around at the lunar landscape. There is a weird kind of wailing/ringing sound in the background, and it's sort of difficult to hear. A similar sound can be heard on many episodes of Star Trek, when an away team beams down to an alien planet.
Fig. 2 - Grant on the Moon
Grant looks down at the lander, which landed at the base of this hill. It's identical to the Apollo landers. Tanner is also there, driving a rover around. He now has a moustache that he didn't have before, perhaps to reassure us that some time has passed between Joey's and the Moon. Grant takes pleasure in running down the hill. The film was slowed down so as to simulate a lower-gravity effect. I think a similar effect was used in Space: 1999. Halfway down the hill, Grant falls on his rear end (at a normal, Earth-gravity speed) and Tanner laughs. We see Grant approach the rover, and here I noted a continuity problem:
When Grant was at the top of the hill, looking down at the lander and rover, the rover was 'parked' next to the lander, and aside from that hill, the landscape was flat. However, in the next scene, when Grant is walking to the rover, the rover is suddenly a lot farther away from the lander, and hills are present all around the lander that were not there before. WTF? Also, now the film is at normal speed, and Koenig is trying to walk as if there is less gravity, but it just looks stupid.
Grant joins Tanner on the rover. Tanner seems kind of nervous. He's a little afraid of what they might find on the Moon. They share some banter.
Meanwhile, we see via Robo-vision that they're being watched as they drive away. Once they're gone, the robot races to the lander and looks at it. It's tentacles burst up from the sand and surround the lander. They sure are long for such a small pod. There's some electrical arcing over the lander, and then the tentacles retract. The robot races away.
We cut to the rover. The Moon set doesn't look all that bad. Aside from the lack of rocks and the weird background sound, I might almost believe it really is the moon.
They chat with Beck, who's the loser in the orbiter, and he in turn talks to Houston. Everything seems okay. Beck tells Grant and Tanner that their target is twelve minutes away.
The robot spies on the rover, and races away.
Beck tells Grant and Tanner that the target is dead ahead, but the rover cannot move forward. It's stuck on a steep incline. The astronauts leave it behind and climb over a tall hill. At the top, they see a huge base that has been built into the side of a hill. It should have been visible from orbit, yet Grant assures us that it was not. Fair enough, but answer me this: if it wasn't seen, why was it their target? God, this movie is making me mad.
A beacon flashes at them (Fire Maidens, anyone?) They report this to Beck, and move forward.
We see them drive up to the entrance in the rover, which begs the question: How did the rover get there? The base is an obviously artificial structure that is no longer in the best of shape. Grant is awed. They stand there and stare for 23 seconds, before Grant bends over and unearths a skull in the sand. Why would there be a skull there? There are no bacteria on the Moon, so decomposition should not occur. Theoretically, the skin and everything should still be there, albeit desiccated from exposure to the vacuum. At the sight of this skull, Grant decides to bring guns in with them. They enter the base. A robot watches them do that too.
The base is huge inside, like a cathedral. The organ music on the soundtrack reinforces this interpretation. Grant theorizes that this structure was indeed ceremonial, basing this theory on no solid evidence. He and Tanner joke about what kinds of ceremonies might have been performed there. At the far end is a door, which requires a handprint to open. Grant uses his gloved hand, and the door opens. They cautiously walk in. It's dark, and there's another skeleton lying there. The door closes behind them, and lights come on in the room. There's also a gust of wind suggesting the room is being pressurized. Our intrepid explorers approach a sarcophagus-like structure in the middle of the room. There is a skeleton draped over it, and inside lies a youngish woman (Leigh Lombardi), nicely preserved.
With a loud hiss, the lid comes off. The woman struggles to move the lid from inside, but cannot. Grant opens it, and looks down at this woman, looking scared and shivering inside the container. They lift her out, but she snaps and grabs a gun from one of the astronauts. Grant throws off his helmet and declares his humanity. This pacifies the woman.
Fig. 3 - Mera
They try to speak to her, but she No Speak English. They manage to find out her name, Mera (pronounced MEE-rah). She sees the skeleton over the sarcophagus, and crawls over to it. She looks really sad, and removes a bracelet from the skeleton's arm. Grant realizes this person was someone she knew (or maybe just someone with a really cool bracelet that she wanted), and tries to console her.
Outside, a large robot walks up to the lander and tries moving it. Alarms sound in the orbiter, alerting Beck that something in the lander is wrong.
The lander gets picked up and carried off by the big robot.
Beck calls the guys and tells them that the lander is being moved. Grant mentions a 'surprise package' that Beck says is still functioning. Guess what it is.
The two men leave with Mera, who dons a red spacesuit that still works after 14,000 years. She gives one last look at the skeleton before they leave to check on the lander.
Suddenly, the roof caves in over the sarcophagus, and a spider-like robot attacks them. It gets shot by Grant and destroyed. Mera calls it a 'Kaylium' (I may have the spelling wrong), and this is presumably the name of the alien robot species.
So, they drive off in the rover. As they approach the landing site, they realize the lander is gone. However, the robot that carried it off left footprints behind, so they follow them in the rover.
They drive and drive. Eventually the rover's battery runs out, so they must walk. They walk and walk. Mera says nothing. They walk up to a precipice with a nice view. Evil music gets louder, and we see an enormous ship resting on the lunar surface some distance away. It is firing its engines but going nowhere. Grant and his team hide behind a hill. Grant figures out (for our sake) that the robots have been building that ship for the last 14,000 years, and are just about ready to head for Earth. Grant and Tanner resolve to fight them with their little guns.
Suddenly, a huge robot bursts out from the soil and throws Grant to the side. Tanner prepares to fire, but it knocks the gun out of his hand. Mera grabs it and hands it back to Tanner, who fires. The robot is destroyed, but it explodes silently. The gun too fires without a sound. Only the movie's lame music can be heard. If we can hear their voices, why is everything else silent?
Tanner thanks Mera, but a second robot appears, picks Tanner up, and throws him against the side of the hill. Grant shoots at it, but only manages to irritate it. It turns to get him, but he shoots a second time, and it explodes.
Tanner is dying. So begins the film's cringe-inducing death scene, where Tanner is lying on the surface and Grant crouches next to him, holding his head up:
Tanner: "No bullshit... now buddy. I'm not... goin' anywhere."Yeesh. Tanner seems to change from a normal mode of speech into Shatner-speech, with long pauses in his lines.
Meanwhile, the orbiter is attacked from the surface by lightning. Beck tries to save his craft, but it gets pulled down to the surface. Grant and Mera watch it crash and explode on the horizon. Great, billions of dollars worth of equipment destroyed. Haskell won't be happy. Grant, Tanner, and Mera are stranded on the Moon.
The Shakespearean death scene continues:
Tanner: "Just one more thing."It took Tanner 2 minutes and 34 seconds to die. Grant screams Tanner's name and weeps. The dramatic emphasis of this scene could have been enhanced if we could see Grant's face. It's invisible behind his helmet visor!
Grant: "Damn you for copping out on me when I need you the most! Always taking the easy way out! You know what I think?!"Grant stops, I guess because he remembers that Mera is there and he doesn't want to sound like an idiot. I don't know. He and Mera leave Tanner's body and walk back to the rover. There, Grant retrieves an inflatable igloo-like tent and throws it onto the sand. It auto-inflates.
Wait a minute, how can it auto-inflate? Where's the air coming from? It has no attached tanks, and similar devices work on Earth because Earth has an atmosphere. WTF? Grant and Mera enter this tent of impossibility.
Inside, Grant verbally regrets even coming to the Moon, wishing instead he let some younger guy go in his place so he and Tanner would still be alive. He blames himself for Tanner's death, and he regrets waking Mera because he knows they will both die.
Mera then undresses, and we see a pointless and weird T&A session lasting roughly 69 seconds (how appropriate). Wouldn't all the death and evil around them be sort of a buzzkill?
We cut to Tanner's body, lying on the sand. Robot tentacles suddenly surround it.
We then see the tent via Robo-vision. That means more attacks are ahead.
Grant and Mera suit up. At this point, we get a brief shot of Mera, and I noted a marked similarity between a part of Mera's suit which rested on her shoulders, and a painted toilet seat. Coincidence?
Grant hears a sound (?) coming from outside, and looks out the tent's window. He 's startled to see a robot looking inside, with Tanner's face apparently stitched to the robot's head. This robot must be the Hannibal Lechter of robots. Good thing it didn't show up sooner, that would have been both embarrassing and fatal!
Fig. 4 - Tanner as a robot
This robot claws its way into the tent, and Mera blasts it. It dies quickly and easily, and Grant looks at the robot in disgust at how it desecrated Tanner's body. Grant resolves to stop the robots before they reach Earth and take all our faces off.
Then, really really big robots pop out of the sand, and carry Grant and Mera away in their arms. It looks like a scene from a 50's sci-fi film, with an enormous monster carrying away a screaming woman.
We cut back to space. The robot ship has taken off and is now really close to the Earth.
Grant wakes up inside, shackled to the wall. Mera is next to him, and she too wakes up. He looks around, and sees a curved wall full of compartments. Their suits are in compartments, and in the others lay various human parts. A head and a hand, to be specific, perhaps from George Beck. The robots intend to use humans as spare parts. Grant deduces that this fate befell Mera's people. Are they still humans or what? They're not being referred to as such anymore.
A robot enters and looks the humans over. It has a cutting tool for a hand, and turns to Mera. She screams. Grant struggles to get out of his shackles, while the robot starts its gruesome task by slowly and carefully cutting away parts of Mera's shirt. Yeah. I see what's happening now.
Grant's hand slips out of one of the shackles, and he frees his other hand. The robot looks at him, but ignores him. Grant runs off to find a weapon, and Mera screams some more. The robot moves very slowly. Grant lunges at the robot with a club-like weapon, and knocks it over. The robot dies. Grant takes the time to say:
"We don't take no shit from a machine."He frees Mera, and they suit up, and walk away. The dead robot twitches, and Grant shoots it with the gun he had earlier. It blows up.
We cut to Earth, and to stock footage of a space shuttle launch. This shuttle is going up to intercept the alien ship. We stare at this launch for 27 seconds, but that's okay. What isn't okay is that the final 10 seconds are spent looking at big reddish clouds of exhaust, with little else to see.
Mission Control watches the launch over a big screen. We cut to the cockpit of the shuttle, and we see the pilot and co-pilot. Judy Levitt, Walter Koenig's real life wife, plays the pilot. We get to watch the procedures followed by shuttle pilots for 68 seconds, and it's kind of boring unless you're into spaceflight.
Here, I found more problems after some research. The pilot reports successful booster separation. The boosters are the pair of tall, skinny white things on either side of the shuttle's fat, brown fuel tank. They make all the fire and smoke seen at launch.
Fig. 5 - The Space Shuttle
We cut to Houston, but according to their view, the boosters are still attached and firing. The shuttle radios in the completion of MECO (Main Engine Cut-Off), and still we see the boosters firing. Houston must be working two launches at once or something.
Anyway, we cut back to the evil ship, and a cavernous interior that slowly rotates. Grant and Mera have climbed up some cables. The ship apparently rotates to generate artificial gravity. Therefore, there is zero gravity at the rotational axis of the ship. The funny thing is, from the outside, this ship does not rotate. Never mind, Grant figures that if they let go of the cables at that point, they can float down the length of the ship and out. He lets go and floats off. Mera fearfully follows him, hanging on.
To create the illusion of them traveling through the ship, the camera zooms in on the matte painting of the interior. Earth is right outside the ship.
We cut to the shuttle in space. The ship is 10,000 kilometers away. Mission Control looks at the ship, and we watch them watching the ship for 25 long seconds. They all have awed and frightened looks.
Back in the robot ship, Grant sees the shuttle, and knows that there's a chance there for rescue. Suddenly, he spots something sticking out of the robot ship's flat inner hull, and we see that it's the lander which was carried away. It's embedded in their ship now. Grant realizes they needed it to finish their ship.
WHAT?! A twenty year-old piece of hardware with a primitive computer and weak engines was needed by the robots to finish their vastly more sophisticated ship? What could they possibly use it for! Anyways, the robots had nearly a dozen other opportunities to get similar hardware (I include Apollo 13 since the robots can pull things down from lunar orbit), but they didn't take them! Arrgghh!
Anyway, Grant floats over to the lander somehow, and opens a panel on it.
The shuttle and the ship approach one another. The shuttle is armed with missiles and prepares to fire. However, the robots fire electricity at them and this throws the shuttle away. It's undamaged, but out of missile range. After all, if the robots did the logical thing and destroyed the shuttle, Grant would never get rescued and this movie would never end. Oh My God NO!!!
Grant wishes he and Mera could make it back to Earth.
He arms the 'surprise package', which is a bomb inside the lander. It's set to explode in five minutes. Grant and Mera expect to die there.
Meanwhile, the shuttle is given "Delta 4" authorization to fire on the robot ship. This implies that NASA has developed firing protocols in case a space shuttle encounters an evil alien ship in Earth orbit. Yeah. However, Houston advises the shuttle that Grant or Tanner are still inside, and that if it's found that they are not, the shuttle can fire. Ever hear of "The good of the many outweighs the good of the few, or the one?" Oh wait, perhaps not, only Chekov would know about that.
Three minutes remain. Unbeknownst to Grant, a robot pod is inside the lander, and it opens up. It tries to kill Grant, but Grant panics and shoots it. The recoil from the gun propels he and Mera backwards at a ridiculously high speed. When they fired this gun on the Moon, there was no recoil like that at all, but never mind. Grant finally figures out that this can be their key out of the ship. For someone nicknamed Einstein, he's not too bright. He shoots in directions such that he escapes the ship through a large convenient hole in the ship's hull. The ship no longer spins.
Grant and Mera exit the ship, and the shuttle spots them. When eight seconds are left on the bomb's timer, the Dramatic Pre-Explosion Tension Scene begins. This scene lasts 17.2 seconds, over twice as long as how much time the bomb has left. It consists of shots of the ship, the timer, Grant and Mera, and the space shuttle. Finally, the robot ship explodes in a small looking and very short-lived explosion, leaving no debris. That bomb had to be nuclear to destroy such an enormous ship.
That's the climax. We can relax now.
We cut down to Earth, at some future time. Mera is at Grant's house, standing on some kind of balcony or something. Mera's grasp of English is not too good, but she's learning. Either that, or the actress can't act very well. I suspect it's a little of both. Anyway, she explains that she was chosen to carry "the warning". She says that she initially didn't want to do that, but that she wanted to stay and fight instead of being put to sleep in that box. But that was her duty, so she did it. She goes on to say that she's happy to be with Grant. Everything is over, and the happy couple embraces.
Meanwhile, at night, an alien pod sits on the ground. How it got there is unknown. It opens up, and looks around. We see it's sitting in a junkyard, and we hear it beginning to weld. MWAHAHA!! This leaves room for Moontrap II: the Revenge... just kidding. We get the credits.
THE END!!!... NOT QUITE!!!
At the very end of the credits, we hear one last part of the film. It's a telephone conversation between Grant, and someone at NASA, made a few months after the events of the film. Grant has a nagging worry that some debris from the robot ship made it to Earth, and he asks the NASA guy if anything made it. The NASA guy is confident that any debris burned up in the atmosphere and is therefore nothing to worry about... MWAHAHAHA!!
THE REAL END!!!
Phew, what a stinker. The biggest question I had on my mind was this: What were humans doing on the Moon 14,000 years earlier? 14,000 years ago, humans as we know didn't exist, but instead were Neanderthals or something. This question of mine never even comes close to being explained.
Next, what were those robots, and why were they on the Moon? Also, why were they fighting the 'humans' that were there? Those questions never get answered either. My explanation for this is that the robots were built by the 'humans' to be weapons, but then they revolted or something like that, and turned on the 'humans'. It fits everything I saw in Moontrap, and brings up no further questions. My explanation sounds like a whole prequel, Moontrap: the Seeds of Evil, which would make the original Moontrap into Moontrap Episode II: Rise of the Machines, and my hypothetical sequel Moontrap III: the Revenge. Oh, the possibilities...
The acting by Koenig and Campbell was good, though that death scene was really hammy. Miss Lombardi didn't really act because she didn't talk, but I guess she was okay. I don't know.
The modelwork for the shuttles, and the various other spacecraft was okay. I thought the use of the Apollo-style equipment on the Moon instead of some original spaceship was a nice touch of reality to an otherwise unbelievable movie. The robots were okay, though at times they looked fake.
The plot was... well, let's just say it was substandard to the point of incomprehensibility. I have a feeling that Mr. Ragsdale had a cool name for a movie, but no movie behind it. He probably wrote this up in a few days, maybe a week, and had his cool name turned into a feature film. I'm not sure what kind of microbudget this had, or whether this was a direct-to-video release or not. If anyone could tell me, I'd appreciate it.
If you're a space shuttle fan, enjoy robotics on the Moon, or wish to learn about human aliens, I wholeheartedly recommend Moontrap to you.
April 25, 2004
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