Jan 13, 2020
Moon Zero Two (1969): a recap (part 10 of 10)
Hubbard and company enter the chamber like they own the place, which for a guy like him I wouldn’t put past. Farside Five’s director rushes over to Hubbard and blubbers to him that the good guys know everything, and he (Hubbard) has got to get him off the Moon. Hubbard gets the kind of expression on his face that reminds me of that great exchange between Bogart and Lorre in Casablanca:
Lorre: You despise me, don’t you Rick?
Bogart: I would, if I gave you any thought.
Hubbard glances at his subordinates, like he’s wishing there were somebody else on hand who could waste their time with this idiot rather than him. Hubbard finally realizes he’s gotta lower himself and acknowledge the man’s existence, saying that the director’s reached the “confession stage”, which implies he kinda knew the dude was inherently unreliable. Frankly, I’m shocked Hubbard didn’t arrange an accident for the Farside Five guy after he whacked poor Wally. Maybe it was on his list of things to do, after staking a claim on Wally’s patch.
Hubbard turns his attention to Kemp and apologizes for not arriving sooner. He says he’s happy to see Bill’s still alive. Kemp says Hubbard’s tri-colored goon squad tried to kill him, and the billionaire is impressed at Bill’s badass-itude in taking down his Eurotrash trio. Hubbard shouldn’t be surprised, seeing as Kemp’s an American and all; he was born chewing red meat and two guns in his tiny baby hands.
It’s at this point that Liz does something shocking: she tries to arrest Hubbard. Man, I had her read all wrong; I honestly thought she was a crooked law-woman, and the dirty sheriff on the land baron’s payroll. Instead, it turns out she’s just stupid, because she announces her intentions while her gun’s still holstered.
Yeah, turns out Hubbard’s man Harry, the hired gun, takes out the sheriff. But now Bill and Clementine are at least free to be together. What? I’m a glass half-full kind of guy. Bill goes for Liz’s gun, but Harry does one of those trick shots they used to show on the History Channel before it became the Pawn Stars Channel and shoots it across the room. Hubbard suggests Bill might not want to get himself killed, and so Kemp goes to see Liz so she can monologue. Hubbard isn’t exactly impressed.
I gotta say, actor Warren Mitchell impresses me; it’s seldom that I want to punch a bad guy in the face as much as when I watch him cleaning his monocle. Here’s hoping he dies a suitably ironic death. Speaking of death, Liz dies and Bill looks like he’s ready for a little hands-on homicide. Hubbard suggests he behave and help land the sapphire rock, or Harry is going to shoot Clementine. Bill does the right thing and relents, and soon they take off. In space, Clementine shares the room with Harry and Hubbard, so Bill behaves.
She points out to Hubbard that sapphire is only valuable because it’s rare; land six thousand tons on the market, and it becomes worthless. Its then that Hubbard reveals his plan: he doesn’t want to sell the sapphire; he wants to use it to line the inside of rocket engines so they can take the heat. Then rockets could reach the outer planets and Hubbard would have a monopoly… or would that be a moonopoly…
…on whatever he finds on Mercury or Jupiter’s moons. Okay, on the face of it, it’s a brilliant plan… until a friend of mine pointed out they’ve been making synthetic sapphires for about a century now. Then again, I’m seeing that they don’t really make a whole lot of synthetic sapphire even today, so maybe the concept of cooking up six thousand tons of the stuff sounded more like science fiction to the producers than crashing an asteroid of natural sapphire into the moon.
Bill says Hubbard will never get away with it, but Kaminski cites the law and says that yeah, legally he can, because apparently corporations really do run things in the future, and any company that can get to a piece of real estate can exploit it. Hubbard says they’ll have to invent a new name for how rich he’s going to be. Like maybe, “hubbardillionaire”? Hubbard is all magnanimous and says he could use a good pilot for the Mercury trip, and after he’s conquered, well, every place but Earth and the Moon, Kemp can pick his planet to govern. Bill tells him he wouldn’t help him get his hands on a lump of…
Whoops. Looks like Bill hasn’t got much to say about that at this point. Farside Five guy is on hand, and I’m thinking he should be the one wearing the yellow space suit, not Whitsun. He’s got a gun on Clementine to make sure Bill and Kaminski play ball, and now the director is all cocky because he’s holding a gun, and his voice has gone all creepy uncle on us, and he’s leering at Clementine. Yeah, go ahead and give Clementine more reasons to kill you.
Bill listens to the byplay around him, and a lightbulb goes off in his head. He says if he’s going to thump number three to set it off on time, he’s going to need a longer line, and Hubbard sends Clementine off to fetch it. Turns out Kaminski’s cuffed to the ladder, and Clementine hooks up a wire from his pack to hers so they’re on telephone. Ah, so that’s why Clem and Bill didn’t talk by touching helmets earlier. It’s really nice to see a writer set up a later scene… and a film editor not fuck it up by leaving said setup on the cutting room floor.
While everybody is outside messing around on the asteroid and the Farside Five guy is watching them instead of doing his job and watching Taplan, Clementine under Kaminski’s direction heads up to the flight deck and starts warming up engines. And then Clem gets a little payback.
Well, guess that’s egg all over your face. Oh, sorry, replace “egg” with molten hot plastic. Not quite an ironic death, but I sure as hell ain’t complaining. Farside Five’s administrator goes floating out into space, and I’m half expecting Kaminski to light a cigar later on and say how he loves it when a plan comes together. Hubbard and company stare incredulously as planet Earth gets a new satellite.
In the background, meanwhile, Bill’s got that “I don’t believe it worked” expression on his face. Hubbard’s convinced “the engineer” got free, because he’s thinks “the girl” can’t possibly be piloting the ship. Oh Hubbard, you just keep coming up with more and more reasons for me to want to see you die. Is there a clone of you around? Because I want to see you get it twice.
While the three bad guys stare like idiots at the Farside Five guy floating away in one direction and Moon Zero Two in another, Bill decides to get proactive. He snatches Harry’s gun out of his hand with a line and finds out that even guns in the future can jam. He tosses it away and Harry tries to get in close to go mano a mano. Because you know, it worked so well before in the bar. Unfortunately for Harry, that helmet kind of obstructs peripheral vision, and it looks like maybe Clementine can fly the ship after all. She swings it around and it turns out Kaminski’s new gun works just fine.
Live by the six shooter, die by the six shooter, eh Harry? This is kind of bland as ironic deaths go, but Harry was a pretty bland bad guy, so I’m not complaining. Bill hops off the big blue rock, but not before starting the burn sequence. Whitsun freaks out and tries to get to the firing mechanism to shut it off, but it’s too late, and he and his boss are in for one last ride. The two look like a pair of cowhands riding a wild bull.
See, movie? You don’t need to stick hitching posts outside of buildings or slap “Moon Fargo” on your buggies. We get the western references just fine. Bill makes it to Moon Zero Two and Kaminski reels him in, and the gang gets to watch Hubbard make a splash.
Billionaire dies in an impact among six thousand tons of sapphire. Yeah, there’s some irony there. Poor Whitsun, no interesting death for you. Bill slides into his seat and he points out to Clementine that since Wally’s death was murder and since he had found nickel, that the claim would still be valid. And since she’s next of kin, that means all that sapphire is now hers. Bill asks how her room at the hotel is, and she suggests he stop by to find out.
Everyone’s smiling, and Moon Zero Two flies off to the movie’s awesomely silly theme song, but there is the small matter of Kemp and Kaminski being party to smacking the Moon with an asteroid, which is still all kinds of illegal. I don’t care how heroic they were, they’re doing time. But hey, at least they’ll have the Solar System’s first taplanionnaire waiting to hire them when they get out.
I won’t lie, Moon Zero Two can be pretty silly; all too often, filmmakers seriously miss the mark when it comes to speculating on what the future will look like, and Moon Zero Two is no exception. However, rather than berate the movie for not predicting what we’re going to be wearing in the future (although, the movie does take place in 2021; it’s not too late to start making jump suits and boots a thing. And plastic plaid jackets. Can’t forget those.) or the fact that we’ve pretty much written the Moon off as a place to go back to, I’d like to focus on how much fun it was.
I liked the characters, especially Bill Kemp, who comes across as a bit of a tool, but a sympathetic one. Kaminski’s a great sidekick, and Clementine is far more capable than the damsel in distress/eye candy some directors would have made her out to be. If you get a chance, I recommend giving the film a look-see. I hope this extended recap might inspire you to check it out.
Thanks to everyone who read these articles, especially those who weighed in down in the comments section. I had a blast writing this, and I consider myself lucky the film in question was actually a lot of fun and I didn’t have to suffer through a trainwreck of a movie like some of my fellow Boothers have had to over the years. And thanks to Dr. O’Boogie, who edited the recaps for me and gently nudged me along so that the whole thing could be wrapped up before Christmas.