Oh man, where do I start? Most reviews of this movie seem to range from love to hate, with very few between. I think I fall in the 'between' area. Moon 44 was directed by Roland Emmerich, who also directed Universal Soldier, Stargate, Independance day, The Patriot, and Godzilla. Oh yeah, he also produced and wrote Moon 44. One of the stars in the movie, Dean Devlin, also produced Stargate, Independence Day, and Godzilla with Emmerich.
The movie starts off by telling us it's the future, and all Earth's resources have been depleted, so companies have taken to space to exploit moons for their mineral resources. Competition for these moons is pretty fierce, as the material recovered from these moons is very valuable, and can make or break a company. One company has seen numerous moons hit, shuttles lost, and their profits gone, so when their last moon is threatened by what appears to a conspirator inside the company, the board of directors send an investigator to determine the truth, played by b-movie veteran Michael Pare'. He goes undercover, as a one of a group of prisoners who have flight experience as pilots are hard to come by. Apparently it's going to be these guys job to protect the moon and the robotic equipment from raiders by flying around in modified helicopters. Since the terrain they will be flying in is difficult, each pilot must work closely with a navigator, who is situated within the station, giving specific directions to the pilot. One wrong move could mean death. The navigators are the typical computer nerdy bunch, and don't mix well with the harden prisoners when they show up. One prisoner decides to rape his navigator in the shower, and though we don't get to see it, I thought it was a pretty bad idea of the prisoner to do such a thing since the navigator would surely want revenge of some sort.
So we have the problems between the navigators, the hard nosed drill instructor busting the prisoner/pilots chops (especially Felix Stone, played by Michael Pare'), and the slimy head of the station, Major Lee, played by Malcolm McDowell, another actor who spends an awful lot of time in b-movie hell. (Check out the IMdB and you'll see what I mean.) The whistleblower, a navigator called Tyler, played by Devlin, gives Stone what he has and together they determine that the mysterious disappearance of the shuttles is really not that they got lost, but were misdirected by someone inside the organization. There's some running around, some scenes that were supposed to build tension, etc., and we start to find out the truth in what's going on, the motive behind the theft of the shuttle. My biggest problem with this movie is that it seemed like too many threads of story line were dangled before us, much more than could be adequately resolved within the 98 minute running time of the movie. The major stuff was resolved, but the movie got bogged down in character development for characters that were not important to the main story. I mean really, who cares why the one navigator spiked some pilot's lunch with drugs? As a result, Malcolm McDowell and Michael Pare' didn't get as many lines or as much screen time as they should have. The effects and sets are decent enough for this kind of movie, although they kept showing us scenes of a giant earthmoving device and I don't know why? To establish something, I guess...and why do all mining bases/station of operations have to be so funky looking in these movies? It's not that they're dirty, but just a lot of metal grated flooring, pipes and what not on the walls and ceiling, and extremely poor lighting. Maybe it's a written rule somewhere.
I think this could have been a better movie had it focused more on the main plot, and not presented all these secondary plots, spending a lot of time dealing with them, and basically going nowhere. And I was disappointed in the pan and scan full screen format. When will they learn? Why not put both formats on the disc, and let the viewer choose? And don't look for any extras, not even a trailer or case insert with chapter stops. Nada, nil, none...seeing as how this director went on to bigger (but not necessarily better) things, I would have thought he would have been interested in providing some insight to us about this movie through a commentary. Oh well...A so so movie with an exceptionally poor release.