Moontrap (1989) DVD Review

moontrapdvdMoontrap (1989) DVD review

Director – Robert Dyke
Starring – Walter Koenig, Bruce Campbell, Leigh Lombardi

Run time – 91 minutes
DVD Label – 88 Films

In this alien invasion oddity, astronaut and investigator Campbell leads the charge against an inexplicable extraterrestrial evil. Joining him on his jolting journey into outer space, and a sustained interplanetary showdown, is STAR TREK icon Walter Koenig – returning to boldly go where few men would ever dare! – 88 Films.

Moontrap is a movie that had promise, due to reasons that will be detailed shortly, but frustratingly it is stifled out by poor scripting, shoddy sound and an unexciting plot.

What may attract interest to the feature is the two actors that star in it. Walter Koenig, Chekov of Star Trek fame, is the lead role of Jason – a colonel of a space craft. Koenig is joined by Bruce Campbell who is known to some for his roles in the original Evil Dead franchise (and other B movie trash). The casting of these two men may have been a tactic to attract the attention of the respective fan bases of both. Unfortunately once having seen the film their fans may have been disappointed back upon Moontrap’s release in 1989. The same could be said of the movie now.

The feature is obviously a sci-fi genre entry and that again creates promise that it will be entertaining. The opening scenes further this when the viewer sees footage of the original moon landings of the sixties before the narrative jumps forward in time to show space travel in the context of Moontrap’s time frame. It is a technique to illustrate this is some time into the future and a lot has changed.

moon1But the film doesn’t quite go the distance. There are several plot holes as well as key information being left out. The script doesn’t go into great detail about what is happening, just the bare minimum is offered. Characters often make guesses as to what is going on that is conveniently correct despite it not being credible that they could come to such a conclusion. Their detective skills would put Sherlock Holmes to shame. It is a lazy way to sidestep actual storytelling.

It is the script again that causes some of the sheen to come off Moontrap, this time what it requires the actors to say. Much of what is said, especially Koenig’s lines, is average at best and close to cliché at worst. “Oh Christ!” and “Oh god!” are uttered quite often. Even Campbell’s knowing hammy acting cannot rescue these moments.

Throughout Moontrap the soundtrack and audio are woeful. Sound effects and even the speech of the actors are muffled or nearly mute in places, becoming more difficult to hear when the score blasts away over them. This could be that the soundtrack was made in stereo but Moontrap have used it on their feature in mono. The score is over the top in places and feels as if it would be better suited on a melodramatic US soap opera, not a sci-fi flick. It all adds up to equal an irritant and another downside of the movie.

It must be said that the location/set used for scenes when the characters are ‘on the moons surface’ are impressive, the bleak and desolate feeling that director Dyke goes for managing to create some atmosphere.

moon2A long rumoured and delayed sequel will be out this spring, currently subtitled Target Earth.

Special features consist of the trailer for the main feature plus the standard collection of 88 Film’s trailers. The inclusion of the Two Moon Junction (which is worth a watch, by the way) trailer stands out a mile as it is slotted in there with ones for the likes of Puppet Master and Tourist Trap.

Numerous weaknesses bog down Moontrap, leaving it underwhelming and bland for the most.

3 out of 10.

James Simpson (@JSimpsonWriter)

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James Simpson

About James Simpson

A freelance writer and lover of movies, James is a long term contributor to UK Horror Scene. He has a regular feature on UKHS, World of Horror, as well as reviewing and interviewing when he can. He also writes for Gore Splattered Corner and Space Monsters Magazine. He has previously written for Scream Magazine and Zombie Hamster. Twitter: @JSimpsonWriter