Jan 13, 2020
Moon Zero Two (1969): a recap (part 9 of 10)
When we last left Bill and Clementine, Lithuania suffered a major setback in their plot to annex the Moon, but it left the Moon Bug shot to hell. Bill opted to use the “bugdozer” instead, but it only has enough charge for a 150-mile trip, and it’s 200 miles to Farside Five. Fortunately, the bugdozer is built to go over mountains, so it’s time to find a shortcut. The pair head out…
…and Clementine asks Bill if nickel is rare on the Moon, and he pretty much says not really. She asks if it’s valuable enough to murder a man for, and Bill replies men have been murdered “for their small change”. You’re missing the point, Bill. Wally was poisoned, then three thugs came out into the harshest environment known to man to whack you and Clementine because you’d find his liquefied corpse. Although now, the very nature of the corpse is once again up for debate; would it become a skeleton or would it mummify? I really wish the Apollo astronauts had performed some serious tests on the moon, and had taken some fresh cadavers.
Bill notes the walls of the valley they’re driving down are narrowing, and he harshly asks Clementine if she can read a map. Let me ask you something, Bill: can you not be a dick? I would say “yes” to your question, and “no” to mine. The more I know the man, the more surprised I am that one of his crew didn’t leave his ass stranded on Mars back in the day. Clementine takes it all in stride, which is probably for the best, seeing as murdering Bill would probably be counterproductive at this point. Then again, it would mean twice as much air…
The end of the valley is blocked off, and they’ve got no choice but to power through.
I know I was down on the model work earlier, but sometimes it’s not bad. I mean, it’s not up to Space: 1999 levels, but it’s not utterly horrible in some scenes. I’m not sure what it is causing the difference between when it’s passable and when it’s, well, crap. I think part of it is it’s easier to look real in front of rocks rather than what’s supposed to be a building. And the other factor is lighting.
Yeah, light is not your friend, modelers. As the moon-dozer crests the pass and onto the plain and the merciless sun hits, Bill lowers the filter over the windshield… Well, okay, there’s no wind on the moon, so what should I call it? Moonshield? Sunshield? Vacuumshield? He lowers the filter over the… glass… thing, and suddenly everything goes green. I’m suddenly having Matrix flashbacks, and I’m half expecting Hugo Weaving creepily peeking over Clementine’s shoulder. Then again, that would explain why Wally’s body looks like a cheap prop; it’s a glitch in the Matrix because the machines have no idea what a corpse in a spacesuit would look like, either.
Bill asks how much farther it is. Gee, Kemp, can you trust Clementine to “read a map”? She reports that it’s about eighty miles and it’s pretty flat, and Bill wryly comments that’s exactly when they’ll need some shade. He tells Clementine to take off her moon suit. Man, you work pretty quick, Bill. Normally, a girl expects dinner and some flowers before you ask her to get naked. But Bill’s motivation is strictly honorable, as the temperature’s starting to rise. Bill asks her what’s she’s going to do now that her brother is dead. A realistic response would be to, you know, find out who killed Wally and bring him to justice, but she asks if there are any openings for clerks on the Moon. Wow, Clementine sure is taking the death of her brother and the narrow escape from the Lithuanian hit squad well. I’m either ascribing that to shock or bad directing. It can’t possibly be due to bad acting, because Catherine Schell is a thespianic goddess and above reproach.
Time passes, and it’s getting hot in here.
Bill is especially suffering due to that pelt of his. At least that’s my assumption, seeing as Clementine seems barely affected.
Hey, maybe her lack of grief earlier is because she’s really a robot? There I go again, trying to slip some chocolate into the peanut butter that is Moon Zero Two. Bill asks if there’s any water left, and Clementine retrieves a carton for him. Bill sips and spits it out and snaps that it’s boiling. Oh shucks, Bill, I guess Clementine forgot to get one from the fridge she’s got hidden in her blouse. Christ, he argues over directions, and complains about her cooking. It’s like they skipped the wedding and honeymoon and went straight to impending divorce.
Bill glances over his shoulder, no doubt to complain some more, and…
Okay, I’m going to say with complete sincerity that it was worth the wait. Bill is speechless, and I know exactly how he feels. Clementine asks what’s the matter, and Bill says, “Not a thing.” It’s like Bill’s reading my mind. Clementine says if it gets any hotter, she’ll likely take the rest of it off. All I can say is, open that heat shield, Bill. Open it now!
The moon-dozer treks across the lunar plain, and…
Wow, it’s like the model gang had a competition to see who could shoot this thing in the least realistic way possible. If so, I think we’ve got a winner here. Inside, Bill’s got this stupid grin on his face, and either the heat’s getting to him, or we missed what might have been the best scene in the movie. Dammit. The smile fades as Bill notices the air pressure is dropping rapidly, and he asks how much farther they’ve got, and Clementine says seven to ten miles. Bill asks harshly which is it, and then he apologizes. Bill apologizing for being a tool? That’s gotta be the onset of heatstroke. He explains that if it’s seven miles they’ll make it, but if it’s ten, they’re dead. The overheating has melted the air bottles, and he quickly orders them into the suits. They dash out of moon-dozer and dive for cover before it explodes.
The pair spot Farside Five and they hoof it across the plain. There inside for all of two seconds when Bill’s girlfriend, Sheriff Liz, says he’s under arrest. You can’t arrest a man for naughty thoughts, Liz. Bill’s pretty flippant about it, and after surviving inflatable thugs and almost getting blown up, I think anything Liz could threaten him with is going to feel pretty insignificant. Kaminski gets Bill and Clem cool drinks while Liz starts running down the list of charges, but Bill interrupts when he says that “Miss Taplan’s” brother’s been murdered. Good call there, Bill. Calling her Clementine would make Liz think you were attracted to her and likely got up to mischief. Liz thinks he’s bullshitting, but he insists it’s true and adds he killed three other guys to boot. Liz finally takes notice and suggests the Farside Five administrator get somebody out there to look. Bill finally notices the guy, and he grabs an air bottle off a pack, and walks over to the man and practically shoves it in his face and asks the administrator what it smells like, while Kaminski sidles up behind the guy so he’s got nowhere to go. Bill asks the guy to have a good whiff of the air coming from the cell and the administrator freaks the hell out. The guy admits it could be cyanide, and now Liz is all kinds of interested.
Oh man, I don’t like the look on Liz’s face. That look? That’s a bad-cop-about-to-be-exposed expression if ever I’ve seen one. It looks like Liz is this movie’s latest Western trope: the crooked sheriff. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, seeing as Bill got all interested in Clementine, and in cases like this where a love triangle’s developed, Something Bad usually happens to the third corner. But hey, it’s the future and maybe I’m reading this wrong. I’m sure sexual mores have evolved to where a guy could easily have two girlfriends who are totally okay with each other, and Bill’s about to be the luckiest man on the Moon.
What? I can dream, can’t I?
Bill says that it’s funny, but he had taken the air cell off his own suit, and it smells just fine. Psyche! Bill points out the bastard is the one who sells everybody the air bottles so he’s the culprit, and he asks why and the guy admits “they” made him. Turns out “they” needed Taplan’s claim, but he had found ore before it expired, so he wasn’t going anywhere. Liz asks what they needed the claim for, and either she’s pretending to be doing her job or she’s shining Bill on so she can shoot him in the back. Bill does the math: “They” needed Wally’s claim to land Hubbard’s asteroid. And that’s when Hubbard and his entourage show up.
Will Liz betray Bill? Will Clementine freak out and think Bill’s involvement with Hubbard makes him an accessory to Wally’s murder? Stop by next time for the final installment to find the answers to these questions and more!