Moontrap DVD Review
Written by Joel Harley
DVD released by 88 Films
Directed by Robert Dyke
Written by Tex Ragsdale
1989, Region 2 (PAL), 92 minutes, Rated PG (UK)
DVD released on 23rd February 2015
Walter Koenig as Col. Jason Grant
Bruce Campbell as Ray Tanner
Leigh Lombardi as Mera
Robert Kurcz as Koreman
John J. Saunders as Barnes
Reavis Graham as Haskell
A sci-fi movie that looks and feels like the pretend sci-fi movie Bruce Campbell was making at the start of My Name is Bruce, only longer, real and without the wit of My Name is Bruce to back it up. There's a conscious effort on my part, when writing about cinema of The Chin, not to keep describing things as 'groovy'. Appropriate as it often may be, one doesn't want to repeat oneself too often, for fear that I might wind up sounding like the Austin Powers of film reviewers. Thankfully, Moontrap offers no such opportunity. In spite of its good pedigree, it's barely groovy at all. Even worse, Campbell only goes Full Bruce a handful of times, denying the film its most compelling reason to watch.
Still, even half-strength Campbell is good Campbell, and his pairing with Star Trek icon Walter Koenig (also dialled back, foregoing the comedy Chekov accent) is a fine shout. Campbell and Koenig play astronaut buddies Ray and Jason, out on a routine space flight when they encounter signs of intelligent life. Finding an alien wessel – sorry, vessel – containing strange artefacts and weird symbolism, the pair return to Earth, set on the idea that they need to visit the moon for the full story. That the film is called 'Moontrap' should clue you in on how that works out for them.
On the moon, things take a more sinister turn, with the pair under attack from alien forces and giant robots. It's acceptable action, even if it is hokey and a bit daft at times. Thankfully, Koenig and Campbell are always on hand to prevent it from getting too mired down, sharing an understated but chummy chemistry which carries the film through its duffer periods. Which is a lot of the time, and especially anything set back on Earth. There's some surprisingly creepy alien horror later on, but Moontrap is mostly a collection of bad special effects, post -2001: A Space Odyssey pondering and a disappointing waste of two great cult names. At least Walter gets to make a cheeky “space... the final frontier” speech at the start, while Bruce is allowed precisely one Evil Dead style bug-out, during the story's later stages. With its baby PG rating, there's no gore allowed, leaving it feeling like one of Doctor Who's more self-consciously scary episodes, or a grim bit of Star Trek: The Next Generation (the mind rape one, for example – or the Wrath of Khan brain slug sequence).
Moontrap is a workable piece of 90s sci-fi horror, but fails more often than it ever succeeds, thanks to a dull story, rubbish effects and overall made-for-TV feel. Its leading men do what they can, but they're let down by a pervasive lack of atmosphere and gravity.
Video and Audio:
It looks bad – only a cut above however its VHS counterpart must have looked at the time. It sounds completely unmemorable, the audio doing its job, but very little else.
A handful of trailers are the only things included on the disc. We all know how this sort of this thing is made anyway – see the start of My Name is Bruce again, for details.