Moon - Film Review

Posted on 19. Apr, 2009 by in Film/TV

by Todd Gilchrist
While I’ve never been particularly keen on filmmakers who openly reference big-name works in the service of creating their own (the Tarantinos of the world are exempt by virtue of the obscurity of their sources of inspiration), I admire the fact that writer-director Duncan Jones tapped no less than 2001 as a foundation for his filmmaking debut. A meditative, thoughtful, and patient film that simultaneously achieves proportions both epic and intimate, Moon is a terrific movie that announces the arrival of a new cinematic talent even as it recalls an era in which special effects and imagination were used to explore real ideas rather than be simply
action set pieces.
Sam Rockwell (Choke) plays Sam Bell, an astronaut in the not-too-distant future whose three-year residency on the Earth’s Moon is rapidly coming to an end. His job is to monitor and export a wealth of energy that has rejuvenated Earth’s energy reserves, but prestige aside it’s a lonely existence, and he’s eager to return home to his wife Tess and daughter Eve. After an accident during a maintenance run in one of the facility’s cumbersome moon rovers, Sam awakens safe and secure in the sick bay, with his automated companion GERTY (Kevin Spacey) monitoring his recovery. Though initially relieved, he soon realizes that something isn’t quite right, and soon begins to investigate the facility’s secrets, eventually uncovering information about his mission that not only calls into question the work he’s doing, but his very identity.
Despite the fact that the film features an isolated astronaut paired up with a sentient computer in a remote location, the film’s plot is quite frankly the element of Moon that least evokes Kubrick’s transcendent science fiction classic. More similar are its artistic flourishes and technical details, such as the rudimentary video phones that Sam uses to communicate back and forth with his earthbound superiors, the classical music that fills parts of the soundtrack, and the pastoral tone that Jones creates as the story unfolds. In the best possible way, however, these points of influence or reference never inundate the film in minutiae, instead they provide a palpable backdrop for a sort of “science fact” world that seems wholly plausible, and comfortingly familiar as Jones and co-screenwriter Nathan Parker introduce their own, completely original concepts.
Additionally, for a film that was no doubt inexpensively produced, the special effects are consistently believable, possibly excepting the strange lack of commitment the film demonstrates in maintaining the reality of a zero gravity environment. But as a whole, the effects are great, the acting is great, and best of all, the ideas are great, proving that you can still make a smart, interesting science fiction movie without resorting to shootouts, spaceships, or set pieces. In short, Moon represents the future of science fiction filmmaking, even if it reminds us that the last time the genre made its biggest intellectual leap was way back in 2001.

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