Moon – Movie Review
I am completely sick of not seeing these awesome movies at the cinema. I wanted to see this but it never really happened and before you could say “Oscar snub” the flick was gone from the cineplex. I’d missed my window, and what a large and alluring window it was.
I went into Moon with expectations. I love Sam Rockwell and have said since The Green Mile that the man will win an award at some stage in his career. I also like sci-fi, and the cover to this flick made me think this might just be something between the veins and arteries of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Alien (and I don’t mean by having lots of gore but more that it would care about the genre and setting the scene). As far as actual story went I only knew that it had Rockwell on a moon base on his own. It doesn’t sound like the best sell but I had faith. You’ve always gotta have faith.
The movie opens with an introduction to the E Lunar company. They are responsible for a lot of Earth’s power production as they harvest the moon. We then cut to Sam Rockwell as he plays character Sam Bell; he’s rocking a beard and long hair and pretty much looks like a hobo. He’s been on the base for a 3 year contract, of which there are only 2 more weeks to serve. He’s done it, he’s seen it through. He doesn’t have a direct link to Earth for communication, something is blocking the way and the company is a little tight to fit fixing this into the top of their fiscal budget so Sam has to make do with the odd video message from his wife and their young daughter. They are all looking forward to the pending reunion.
Sam isn’t completely alone, he has GERTY. A robot/box that travels on casters overhead and dispenses help and advice. GERTY is voiced by Kevin Spacey in a smooth and even tone, much like Douglas Rain did for HAL in 2001. GERTY also has one display screen that shows different smiley faces depending on its mood. This is a simple and yet inventive approach to getting us to understand that GERTY really is a character in this small stage play.
The conflict comes when Sam starts to have visions, different images on screens, a strange teenage girl loitering about the base. One of these images causes him to crash his vehicle into a massive harvester. Sam is knocked unconscious but wakes in the infirmary with GERTY aiding him. It’s a tad strange and he can’t seem to remember much. He then hears GERTY having what appears to be a live conversation with the company and restrictions also stop him from going outside the base. He tricks GERTY into getting outside and goes straight for the vehicle whereupon he finds, Sam.
Sam brings the other man back and the confusion only worsens for him. GERTY doesn’t come out and tell him what has happened, the robot is quite evasive, and yet it isn’t some malevolent force that’s out to screw them all over. GERTY does seem to genuinely care which is a nice change for robots in sci-fi. The two Sams avoid each other awkwardly at first but soon start to converse. They realise that one of them is a clone and struggle to identify who, though the facts tell us quicker than they are able to accept the notion.
From here is where Moon really amps up as a flick. It’s filled with paranoia and suspicious bullshit so brilliantly rendered by Rockwell. The man chews up his scenes as his two Sams are quite different and clash very well on screen. The Sam who was nearing the end of his contract is wiser for his actions and years of pondering in solitude whereas the new Sam is more brash, aggressive, headstrong, and confrontational, much as he was when he left Earth. To play the same man in two different ways would be hard enough, but to do it in the same scene, against himself, is the reason why people hounded for Rockwell to get a much deserved Oscar nomination. He shows us two very different men and then manages to break them down and show us what they are made of.
The ending is bitter sweet and the final few lines before we cut to black are well thought out and presented. Make sure you listen to that radio chatter closely. It gives you so much information that will spark further discussion completely.
The movie is surprisingly tense in scenes, especially for a one man and a robot box show, and I didn’t really find any scenes boring. Any moments of silence merely give you time to appreciate the effects that have been so lovingly hand-rendered for the show. The lunar vehicle shots were created with real pieces and took eight days to film. Instead of using CGI, director Duncan Jones opted to go old school and the movie benefits for it. It’s like you can feel the lack of atmosphere in those shots on the moon’s surface. It gives the entire situation a resonance and reality that a computer would not have been able to create.
Two scenes that sparked my interest where when Sam thinks about how much he wants to go home to Earth but he’s assessing whether that will really happen or not. The camera pans to show just how far away our planet is from the Moon. It’s a simple and masterful shot that tells us so much about the character and his struggle that words would have fumbled easily. The other scene is more surreal and shows Sam’s dream of being in bed with his wife and when the camera scoots under the covers we see a different Sam down by their feet struggling to hold on or come back up. It’s strange and almost scary but it shows that Sam is a disparate man in reality and he’s struggling to hold onto it all and stay true.
Moon is a good movie and happily one that is capable of matching Rockwell’s masterful acting performance/s. I’d say it’s a must see for any sci-fi fan but I’d recommend it to just about anybody, especially those who like a great acting turn or can appreciate a bit of a locked room thriller with ethical implications. The movie is about what it means to be human, and what one thinks of themslef in the grander scheme of things, and scheme don’t get any grander than outer space. Moon is well made, well thought out, and very well presented. So don’t waste any time, it’s a short flick and you’ll absolutely get sucked into it.
Posted on March 21st, 2010 by ryan
Filed under: movies