Moon Zero Two
Moon Zero Two is a 1969 British science fiction film directed by Roy Ward Baker, starring James Olson, Catherine Schell, Warren Mitchell, and Adrienne Corri. The film takes place on the Moon in the year 2021 as former astronaut turned salvager Bill Kemp helps a millionaire capture a 6000-tonne sapphire asteroid and help find a woman's brother.
|Moon Zero Two|
|Directed by||Roy Ward Baker|
|Screenplay by||Michael Carreras|
|Story by||Martin Davison|
|Produced by||Michael Carreras|
|Edited by||Spencer Reeve|
|Music by||Don Ellis|
Moon Zero Two was filmed at the ABPC Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, England. The screenplay was by Michael Carreras from an original story by Gavin Lyall, Frank Hardman, and Martin Davison. In the U.S., the film was billed as a space Western with the phrase 'The first moon "western"...' The film was a commercial failure in the box office and received negative reviews from film critics.
In May 2021, the Moon is in the process of being colonized, and this new frontier is attracting a diverse human population to lunar settlements like Moon City, Farside 5, and others.
Two denizens of this rough-and-tumble lunar society are the notorious millionaire J. J. Hubbard and former-astronaut-turned-satellite-salvager Bill Kemp, the first man to set foot on Mars. He left Space Corporation because he wants to explore space, while his former employer only wants to operate commercial passenger flights to and from Mars and Venus.
When Hubbard hears about a small 6000-tonne asteroid made of pure "ceramic" sapphire that is in a low lunar orbit, he hires Kemp to capture it with Kemp's old Moon 02 space ferry. Kemp is to transport it down to the surface of the lunar farside, even though doing so would be against Space Corporation law. Kemp, however, has little choice because he learns from Hubbard that his flight license will soon be revoked due to protests from Space Corporation. Hubbard also reveals that he plans to use the giant sapphire for building much improved rocket engine thermal insulators, profiting from the need for even more powerful rockets to colonize Mercury and the moons of Jupiter.
A young woman named Clementine arrives looking for her brother, a miner working a distant patch of moonscape at Spectacle Crater on the lunar farside. Unfortunately, the trip from Moon City on the nearside would take six days by a lunar vehicle. Since Kemp can go there much more quickly using Moon 02, she convinces him to help her learn if her brother is still alive. The terrain around his camp is not suitable, so Kemp and Clementine land and travel the remaining distance using a lunar transport buggy. The two discover that Clementine's brother is dead, and that he was murdered for his discovery: a large vein of nickel that would have made him a rich man. They are shot at by some of Hubbard's men, who have followed them to the camp. Kemp takes them out one by one.
Hubbard was unhappy to learn that Kemp was leaving to assist Clementine, because Hubbard was responsible for Clementine's brother's death. Hubbard needed the claim to be abandoned, so he could to take control of it and use it as the isolated landing site for the sapphire asteroid. Hubbard blackmails Kemp into completing the asteroid job by threatening his and Clementine's lives. Kemp kills the millionaire and some of his men in a shoot out and strands the rest on the asteroid, as it collides with the Moon. Because Clementine is her brother's next of kin, Kemp informs her that she now has legal ownership of the nickel vein and soon the "crashed" sapphire asteroid, making her a very wealthy woman.
- James Olson as Bill Kemp
- Catherine Schell as Clementine Taplin
- Warren Mitchell as J. J. Hubbard
- Adrienne Corri as Elizabeth Murphy
- Ori Levy as Korminski
- Dudley Foster as Whitsun
- Bernard Bresslaw as Harry
- Neil McCallum as Space Captain
- Joby Blanshard as Smith
- Michael Ripper as 1st Card Player
- Robert Tayman as 2nd Card Player
- Sam Kydd as Barman
- Keith Bonnard as Junior Customs Officer
- Leo Britt as Senior Customs Officer
- Carol Cleveland as Hostess
- Roy Evans as Workman
- Tom Kempinski as 2nd Officer
- Lew Luton as Immigration Officer
- Claire Shenstone as Female Hotel Clerk
- Chrissie Shrimpton as Boutique Attendant
- Amber Dean Smith as Hubbard's Girlfriend
- Simone Silvera as Hubbard's Girlfriend
- The Gojos as Hilton Bar Dancing Girls
Moon Zero Two was written by Michael Carreras, based on a story by Martin Davison, Frank Hardman and Gavin Lyall. It was directed by Roy Ward Baker. Production began on March 31, 1969 at the Associated British Studios. The score was done by Philip Martell and American jazz musician Don Ellis, his first film score. The song title was performed by Julie Driscoll. Spencer Reever was the film editor and Carl Toms was costume designer. Special visual effects for the film were created by a team headed by visual effects artist Les Bowie, who worked on numerous Hammer productions and other British-made science fiction features.
Production began on 8 March 1969, focusing on the special effects. Live action filming later started on 31 March. The dance group the Go-Jos appeared in the film. Ori Levy described wearing the moonsuits as "sheer hell", receiving blisters from chafing and back problems from the air conditioner installed to keep him cool. Catherine Schell lost 13 pounds from wearing the suit, causing her to be put on a diet on malted milk and chocolate to maintain her weight. Principal photography wrapped on 10 June.
Among the futuristic set decorations are several famous "Ball Chairs" created in 1966 by Finnish designer Eero Aarnio. A dialogue reference to Neil Armstrong becoming the first man on the Moon was inserted, and a lunar monument erected on the landing site was added to the production. The film was released three months after the Apollo 11 Moon landing.
Moon Zero Two was released on DVD by Warner Bros. in 2008 in a set along with When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth. It received a stand-alone DVD release in 2011. The film was a commercial failure in the box office.
Variety wrote that the film "never makes up its mind whether it is a spoof or a straightforward adventure yarn and the uneasy combo comes adrift even in the normally capable hands of producer Michael Carreras (who also wrote the script) and director Roy Ward Baker. It may provide some mild amusement for easygoing audiences but overall it's a fairly dull experience, despite some capable artwork, special effects and lensing by Paul Bessen". The Monthly Film Bulletin stated, "It's all just about bad enough to fill older audiences with nostalgia for the inspired innocence of Flash Gordon, or even the good old days of Abbott and Costello in outer space". Derek Malcolm for The Guardian called the film "dreadfully made from start to finish."
In a 1992 interview with Starlog, Roy Ward Baker was negative towards the film, lamenting its budget for hindering plot possibilities and the miscasting of James Olson as the lead role. Baker was also critical of producer and writer Michael Carreras' roles with the film. While being fine with his producing, Baker thought Carreras overstretched himself with his positions.
Moon Zero Two was a bad picture. It was hopeless, and never got off the ground. We didn't have enough money to do it properly. It was crazy — a complete muddle. And, it was undercut by the fact that you could turn on the television and see Neil Armstrong jumping about on the real Moon.
Mystery Science Theater 3000Edit
The film was shown and parodied on Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode 111, originally airing on January 20, 1990. The episode was rebroadcast on social media as the MST3K LIVE Social Distancing Riff-Along Special on May 3, 2020 with new riffs by the MST3K Great Cheesy Circus Tour cast.
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