After an atomic explosion blasts the Moon out of Earth orbit, Moonbase Alpha drifts in space, with 300 people on board. When a rescue team from Earth arrives in a faster-than-light space ship, everyone is overjoyed that they can now return to Earth. But Moonbase Commander John Koenig, having undergone an experimental brain soothing process after receiving a concussion in a crash on the Lunar surface, sees not friends from Earth but gruesome monsters which have telepathically caused all others on Alpha to see an illusion of an Earth party. The aliens are desperate for radiation and plan to manipulate the Alphans into detonating nuclear waste on the Lunar surface, reducing the Moon and everyone on it to dust. Koenig must expose this conspiracy to save his people.
Directed by: Tom Clegg
. Starring: Martin Landau
, Barbara Bain
, Catherine Schell
, Tony Anholt
, Nick Tate
, Zienia Merton
, Jeffery Kissoon
, Toby Robins
, Stuart Damon
, Jeremy Young
, Drewe Henley
, Patrick Westwood
, Cher Cameron
. Music by: Derek Wadsworth
Bad science does not always equal bad science fiction, and good science does not always equal good science fiction. Sometimes even mumbo-jumbo science makes good science fiction, as evidenced here (the opening crawl is nonsense in particular). Even such sci-fi classics as "Star Trek" and Star Wars suffer from bad science, but people overlook them because they have redeeming qualities-the philosophy of "Star Trek", the fun of Star Wars. Suspension of disbelief is a necessary trait for lovers of sci-fi and fantasy, and you'll need it for Destination Moonbase-Alpha
First, a little background. When I was seven, I was the ghost of my local Mom 'n Pop video store, and I recorded just about every movie that played on TV blindly, just to experience as many movies as I could and learn as much as I could. On one trip to my local video store in 1995, I found a used copy of Destination Moonbase-Alpha for sale, having never heard of "Space: 1999" or any of the stars and, since I had recently been exposed to the likes of Star Wars and the underrated The Black Hole, decided to give it a try (my folks bought it for me because it was cheap, and hey, at least I wasn't interested in R-rated movies!). I watched the first three minutes of it before the prehistoric VHS tape got chewed up, and, knowing nothing about tape repair at that age, foolishly got rid of it without having seen the rest. (I only years later realized how rare that tape was, since I scoured ebay for it for years, only to find that the only copies available were on Beta...)
Many years later, I saw the uncut episodes of "1999" this film was compiled from, primarily the pilot "Breakaway" and the two-part episode "The Bringers of Wonder." The former I found dull, nihilistic and flat. The latter was mostly good, but I found the slow-motion fight scenes on the surface of the moon silly, and it spoiled an otherwise good story. Also there were some ambiguities I thought should've been explored in the plot (but weren't) which I'll get to in a moment, but figured that was because they were constrained by the limitations of TV.
Just yesterday I finally saw all of Destination Moonbase-Alpha, to see how it compared to the TV episodes. The run time on the video box (and the IMDB) listed it as being shorter than the combined "Bringers of Wonder", and, knowing they also included pieces of "Breakaway", I wondered what they had cut out, and how good the editing was. I was pleased that they condensed the best and most watchable parts of "Breakaway" down to a four-minute prologue, and that "The Bringers of Wonder" was mostly left alone, save a few time-wasting moments deleted. (The run time on the box and the IMDB, according to my VCR counter, was incorrect-it is longer than 93 minutes).
I'd heard a lot about fans being disappointed in the second season of "Space: 1999", which puzzled me because I found "The Bringers of Wonder" (which was part of that season) far more interesting than "Breakaway", but then my taste tends to be different from most sci-fi fans. What did I like about it? It had a theme not altogether unlike the best of "Star Trek" (a theme which became especially interesting in the final scene), though I found it somewhat diluted by a conflicted script. The "friends" on the "rescue ship" were revealed as being villainous aliens far too soon-I thought it would've been much more effective had they been revealed in the scene where they are revealed to Commander Koenig. Also, when they are inevitably revealed to everyone else, the rest of the cast seemed to take the idea too lightly. They were, after all, so excited about the reunion with their loved ones and being returned to Earth, and they don't seem let down by the revelation at all. I don't know what this compilation could've fixed about this plot hole, but it was a fault in the original that I wish could've been remedied, along with the goofy slow-mo on the surface of the Moon (which seemed somewhat shorter in Destination Moonbase-Alpha, but I can't verify that claim without watching them side by side).
So yeah, it was faithful to the series, and combined the best of the two episodes into a coherent, very interesting movie. Of course, with the whole, uncut series on DVD now, Destination Moonbase-Alpha is little more than an oddity today, but I was pleased to see it in the format I wanted to see it in so bad when I was a kid.
(As an odd sidenote, the summary on the video box is totally wrong, because it provides the summary of "Breakaway" rather than "The Bringers of Wonder." All of the plot details provided in that summary are nowhere to be found in this film, since, as I mentioned, "Breakaway" had been condensed to a breathless four minute prologue for this film. This surprised me when I watched it, because, having read the video box when I was a kid and didn't get the chance to see the movie, it was certainly not what I was expecting, but then, it was much better...).
Review by elisereid-29666 from the Internet Movie Database.