Laughing Gravy | Sacramento, CA United States | 02/27/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"George Wallace is Commando Cody, Sky Marshal of the Universe, although the title seems to be largely symbolic. He does not patrol the airways with a fleet of heavily armed, brutally efficient sky deputies at his side, riding the solar winds as he snuffs out all those who would stand in his way of preserving peace and tranquillity throughout the universe. He does, however, have two fairly loyal office assistants. When a series of explosions rock America's defense systems (by way of stock footage of dams toppling and trains derailing), the U.S. calls on Cody to investigate. Cody, with absolutely no evidence or information presented to him, immediately guesses that the attacks are coming from the moon. The government agent agrees and Cody and his pals are off on their wacky adventure, piling into a rocket shop equipped with office furniture(!). At first, Cody's curvaceous assistant Joan is instructed to remain on earth because of the danger, but she rightly points out that if she doesn't come along, the men won't have anyone to make coffee for them, so Cody, evoking his powers under the charter of the Sky Marshals union, grants her request. Inasmuch as the moon is only approximately 239,000 miles from the earth, Cody's rocket makes the trip in about three or four minutes, and - in a happy coincidence - just happens to land a few yards from the lunar city, which is movingly portrayed by the lost city from the early Republic serial DARKEST AFRICA. If you're hoping Bonga the Gorilla will be around, though, we're sorry. The depth and feeling he brought to his role are sorely missed by the actors in THIS chapterplay.In the lunar city, Cody meets Retik, supreme leader, portrayed by Diana Ross. Ummm, no, wait, that was the OTHER Supreme leader. This one is Roy Barcroft, wearing his old costume from THE PURPLE MONSTER STRIKES. By this time, I'm certain we're all tired of this plot, and guess what - it's still only chapter one, folks. Cody and the gang return to earth, have lots more fights with Krog (Retik's agent) and Krog's henchmen, and make a second trip to the moon. Finally, all the moonmen are killed and all the earth people live and our planet is spared an invasion from its satellite.Commando Cody is wearing Jeff King's rocket suit from KING OF THE ROCKETMEN, and apparently working out of King's laboratory, too, both without explanation. Some sort of deviltry is suspected (although the next time we'll see this flying suit, it will belong to `Larry Martin' in ZOMBIES OF THE STRATOSPHERE). I for one would not be surprised at all to learn that a paranoid U.S. government was replacing its own flying scientists every few months to ensure that valuable rocket secrets weren't passed to the Soviet Union. Furthermore, Aline Towne and Wilson Wood are Joan and Hank in this serial, while in ZOMBIES, they are `Sue' and `Bob', respectively. Don't tell ME the government wasn't trying to confuse the Russkies. There's a wealth of stock footage from the aforementioned ROCKETMEN, although Jeff King was kind of tall and lanky and Commando Cody seems rather short and stocky, and so he appears to grow several inches whenever he utilizes the suit to fly, which may be covered under one or two of Einstein's theories of space/time relativity, but I dunno `cause when I was supposed to be reading that stuff in school I had my nose stuck in a FATMAN, THE HUMAN FLYING SAUCER comic book.While on the moon, Cody and his friends wear suits and ties, although they do don metal helmets (but no gloves) to go walking about on the lunar surface. Frankly, they look kind of silly, trotting about the moonscape in freshly starched, neatly cuffed trousers with dress shoes. But most viewers won't even notice, of course, being too engrossed in admiring the beautiful cloud formations in the blue lunar sky.Clayton Moore is Krog's main henchman, and he is absolutely as ineffectual a muscleman as you will find in any serial. Sent to rob a bank to secure funds for hiring more goons, he fails. Sent to blow up a rocket, he fails (about three times). Sent to kill Cody, he fails (in every other episode). The guy is the `Gilligan' of serial do-baddies. It's embarrassing to see the always-likable Moore in this role. In fact, believe it or not, with all of the other faults of this serial, what springs to mind as the worst is the miscasting. Wallace should be playing the loser henchman, Moore should be the flying scientist, weird-looking Don Walters, who plays a government agent, should be Retik, and Roy Barcroft should be in a better serial.Despite the fact that Retik is launching an attack against the earth and that the U.S. government knows it and is preparing a full-scale defense and possible counter-attack, neither side seems to have dedicated more than 4 or 5 men to the tasks at hand. Cody seems especially short-handed, as the government is only able to spare one or two agents for the entire defense project.The stock footage, usually a bonus in the later Republic serials, is poorly integrated, with the color of the automobiles for both sides changing from light to dark throughout the serial, based upon the stock footage to be matched.Fred Brannon directed or co-directed every post-war Republic serial from THE PURPLE MONSTER STRIKES (1945) through JUNGLE DRUMS OF AFRICA (1952), but once he became the sole serial director for the studio in 1948, the quality of their output dropped fast and far. On the plus side, Roan has a good print (but not as good as their spectacular print of SOS COAST GUARD, a much better serial), and they've re-pressed the disc so that all chapters are now included. Extras include some production notes and cast biographies, plus the theatrical trailer. Avoid the much inferior Whirlwind disc."
Larry Smith, the Lone Masked Guy
Larry Smith | Up high on Mt. Olympus | 06/29/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"OK, a fun serial released the year of my birth. Moon men, Rocket ship/s, art deco design cool looking lab machines. a flying heroic scientist and inventor of the flying suit, when he wears it he is known as COMMANDO CODY, Sky Marshall of the Universe who ' flies 'in long shots by the same method created for the 1941 serial ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN MARVEL, a lifesize mannequin sliding down (or up depending on the camera trick) a wire but it looks cool to me. Moon men want to invade the Earth and send their first group to prepare the way. Only ONE man can hope to stop them (since this serial does'nt have Superman, Batman or any other heroes): Commando Cody who by the way is a basic human BUT maybe more of a 007 James Bond type human so he stands a chance. Glorious B&W with slam bang action but NOT modern movie hairy chested action mind you. Kids may watch lots of R rated movies today but in 1952, there were hardly any movies like these then and Cody was a family type action adventure movie in 12 or more parts with cliffhangers. A cliffhanger was where at the end of a part, someone usually the hero or one of the hero's friends looked like they might die and so you had to see the next part to see what happens. If you ever get the chance, see KING OF THE ROCKET MEN too, the first Commando Cody serial."
Dumb But Fun
Jonathan Schaper | London, Ontario Canada | 10/06/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Radar Men From the Moon was made during Republic's decline and has many of that period's weaknesses including:
1. An extremely dumb hero: His top secret lab has no guards and has a large painting of himself in costume by the door. He keeps his top secret rocket ship parked unlock on an unguarded field near a country road. He gives up chasing bad guys who have a head start despite WEARING A ROCKET PACK that lets him fly fast speeds. After finding the main villain (who is as evil as Hitler but with more dangerous weapons) unconscious he doesn't bother killing him or taking him prisoner, but just steals a ray gun. And although he has stolen a ray gun that can destroy heavy tanks, he runs away from a tank pursuing him. And that's just the first chapter. The hero is also unbelievably stiff. It's as if Bush 43 and Al Gore had mated.
2. The villains are equally dumb: Instead of stealing parts to finish one of their evil machines (or getting parts sent down from their headquarters on the moon), the bad guys on Earth spend several chapters attempting to rob a heavily armed bank, kidnapping the hero's girlfriend for ransom, etc. because they are broke. I guess stealing from hardware stores is worse than committing genocide.
and, 3. There's nothing but cheat cliffhangers: The villain disintegrates the machine the hero is hiding behind as well as everything nearby. How did the hero escape? It turns out he was actually hiding behind an ornate footstool nowhere near the machine he was hiding behind (huh?). And the good old he-jumped-out-of-the-car-just-before-it-crashed routine is used not once, but several times.
Still, Radar Men manages to be fun, sexist ("you might need a woman on the moon to cook your meals"), 1950s cheese. And as for print quality, you can always trust Roan, Image or VCI."
Off the Radar Beam
Videonut | New Yawk USA | 02/26/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"My VHS transfer of Radar Men From The Moon, which is twenty years old, puts this DVD version to shame. This low resolution print is noisy and washed out. Commando Cody's next adventure should be to find and destroy all the existing Whirlwind DVDs."
Radar Men From the Moon (DVD)
michael moore | Bryn Mawr, PA. United States | 09/28/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Radar Men From the Moon is one of those Republic Serials that you either love or hate. It was one of their later serials, borrowng heavily from footage of Republic's glory days. Regardless, this serial is fun to watch in any format. This DVD edition has a fine picture transfer, especially since it did not come from Republics original master. My only problem with this Roan release is that I purchsed it more than twice. Each time I purchased it I got the first 6 chapters on both sides. Until they fix their production problems I can't reccomend this edition."