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Moon (2009) ***1/2

June 9, 2009

moon_ver2

 

written by: Duncan Jones & Nathan Parker

produced by: Stuart Fenegan & Trudie Styler

directed by: Duncan Jones

Rated R for language.

97 min.

U.S. release date: June 12, 2009

DVD/Blu-ray release: January 5th, 2010

  

“Space Madness” stories has been done before but it’s been a while since it’s been done this well. For his first feature, director Duncan Jones (son of David Bowie, no stranger to outer space heroes) made an indie sci-fi flick for $5 million, which is quite an accomplishment! Through a combination of models, CGI, detailed production design and an superb performance by Sam Rockwell, it feels like sci-fi on the big screen is returning to those psychological themes that freak us out more than scalely aliens dripping acid.

There’s a parallel look and feel to themes from to “2001” and  “Solaris” as well as other films from the late 70’s and early 80’s where average-looking people work in space for corporations that see them as cogs (or ghosts) in the machine. The stylishly shot opening exposition sequence is delivered quickly, setting up that company as “Lunar Industries,” which has solved Earth’s energy crisis by harvesting energy resources from the moon, in a slick commercial ad.

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Sam Bell (Rockwell), works alone on a lunar base and has come to the tail-end of a three-year contract. Needless to say he is counting the days as we hear a lone piano score noodlin’ along by the always capable composer Clint Mansell score. An on-deck computer, called GERTY (perfectly voiced by Kevin Spacey) is Sam’s only companion and tries to serve as confidant as well. It’s a character that is at times charming and funny yet with an underlying creepiness. While Sam is in his lunar rover one day, checking out a problem with one of the harvesters, he crashes. He wakes up kind of out of it, but basically fine. A few days later, he finds the rover and finds a man inside who appears to be….um, himself. I’ll stop there. The less you know going into this film, the better. In fact, the trailer refreshingly gives nothing away.

If you’re a fan of Sam Rockwell and intellectual sc-fi, just check this one out for yourself. The film has a sense of humor; partly due to the script but also due to the great casting of Rockwell (who can do anything), and part of that is in the direction. Jones creates a future that feels well-worn and lived in amid all the pristine white interiors we’ve come to expect in these films. He also tackles some weighty issues, yet with a lightness that shows he’s not afraid to let his film show a little bit of heart. I’ll admit, I wanted some philosophical and psychological story elements explored more but Rockwell had me to the point where I didn’t mind not knowing.

Other sci-fi films have clearly been influenced or payed homage to classics yet this reaches for something unique and fresh as well as new and exhilarating. It just about succeeds too! It’s not hard to be sucked in and submit to one intriguing scene after another. I found myself paying close attention to every detail to see if I could see what was coming next….even after the big reveal is out. That’s proof of good, smart storytelling like some of the best sci-fi “Twilight Zone” episodes, “Moon” knows how to hypnotically take you on an examination of questions such as: How does isolation affect us humans or who are we and what are we if there is another like ourselves?

 

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. windi permalink
    January 28, 2010 4:16 pm

    I think I’m going to go look for this, it sounds really good. I’ve never even heard of it! Of course, that is exactly why I keep checking this page out! :)~

    Thanks!

  2. windi permalink
    February 21, 2010 8:56 pm

    Matt and I watched this last night. What a fantastic debut! Sam Rockwell was amazing!

    Matt was kind of iffy on it when he read the back of the box, but said he’d give it a shot, but 10 minutes into the movie, I could tell he was hooked.

    I actually dreamt about the movie all night, which tell you how much it got into me. It was very, very well done, and one I’ll definitely be telling people to watch!

    • David J. Fowlie permalink*
      February 22, 2010 11:21 am

      Glad you guys liked it. It certainly does hook you and makes you think. Rockwell is one to follow!

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