Moon

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Director: Duncan Jones.
Screenplay: Duncan Jones, Nathan Parker.
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Dominique McElliogot, Benedict Wong.
Voice of: Kevin Spacey.

I hope life on Earth is everything you remember it to be“.

Being the son of legendary musician David Bowie must put a lot of pressure on you, especially if your chosen profession is also to entertain. However, this is a pressure that director Duncan Jones seems to relish. His talents are used in a different medium from his father but equally as impressive with this relatively low-budget debut and he produces one of the finest science fiction film’s for quite some time.

Lone astronaut Sam Bell (Rockwell) is nearing the end of a three year service harvesting the Moon for much needed resources to keep Earth functioning. While carrying out his duties, he is involved in a collision resulting in a serious concussion. Upon wakening, he realises that things are not as they seemed during his years of isolation and that he’s not been alone either.

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While having some obvious comparisons to “2001: A Space Odyssey” in terms of it’s onboard computer Gerty (voiced by Kevin Spacey) resembling HAL-9000 and a similiar structurely directing approach to Stanley Kubrick’s, that’s where the comparisons end. The themes of isolation and loneliness have more in common with Steven Soderbergh’s tormented “Solaris” or the existential pondering and exploration of individuality and memories echo the work of Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner”. Being a fan of both of those, I found “Moon” to be very appealing indeed.

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In a time where science fiction, seems intent on throwing as much money on the screen as possible, it’s refreshing to see one that works on it’s simple, yet very effective, concept rather than smooth over the cracks with excessive special effects. It’s through this that real talent is allowed the room to develop and that opportunity is seized by an outstanding Sam Rockwell. In a year that Awards pretty much had Jeff Bridges’ name already engraved on them for “Crazy Heart“, Rockwell’s performance here was shamefully overlooked. He at least deserved a nomination. By now, everyone is aware of this great actors talents but Jones gives him the chance to really show his range in multiple roles and without his sublime and commanding work, this film might not have worked as well as it does. However, it does work and very well at that. Jones has a good handle on the thought provoking material and shows a restraint beyond his years, while the subtlety of Rockwell’s performance brings out the spiritual and intellectual struggle of his character(s).

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Gary Shaw’s sublime cinematography does not go unnoticed either. He perfectly captures the claustrophobic environment which only serves to heighten a foreboding sense of paranoia and Clint Mansell’s excellent use of music is eerily atmospheric by simply using basic piano notes.

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Not only on modern terms, “Moon” can hold it’s own with some the best that science fiction has to offer and just goes to show that a basic concept, a basic structure and a minimal cast can culminate into something quite special.

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This cemented an already talented actor’s reputation and heralded the arrival of a promising new director. With the impressive “Source Code” already in the bag and the forthcoming “World of Warcraft“, Jones is certainly one for the watching. He’s a director that already shows confidence in himself and won’t be rushed into telling his story, making it all the more satisfying for a contemporary audience that’s been slapped around the head with too many Michael Bay movies.

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Mark Walker

Trivia: Kevin Spacey read the script and agreed to voice Gerty but when the film was finished and only if he liked it. Having loved it, he recorded his lines in half a day.

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67 Responses to “Moon”

  1. This movie is beautiful!! Good one Muckers!!

    Boat Drinks!

  2. I really need to see this. Like really.

  3. Excellent review, I have to still to see this one but it looks like an interesting film.

  4. Nice review Mark. Rockwell owns this movie, and it still makes me wonder, even til this day, why he wasn’t at least nominated for this. At least.

  5. That’s two Moon reviews I’ve read today and I STILL don’t understand why they used clones!

    • Are you pulling my chain, man? I thought that part was obvious! No? ;)

    • Business reasons. If the technology is there to clone a person multiple times, then the knowledge is there in every instance of that person. No staff costs, no raining coats, no attitudes, and certainly not the huge expense of putting another person in space (and getting one safely home). Plus, as we find out, it’s all illegal.

      • I don’t think training two or three people every three years would be a huge drop in the bucket for the biggest company in the world. And sending a ship to the moon is more costly than implementing and maintaining a cloning program? And like you said, it’s illegal, and they’re pretty much screwed at the end when the secret is revealed, so why take that chance?

      • Admittedly it’s been a while since I saw the film. But who says they are maintaining the system? It all seems to go like clockwork. A clone doesn’t take wages (it only thinks it is) and, if the technology is available (in the setting) then any smart business, pandering to shareholders’ desire to profit, will take the shortest route possible.

        Illegality isn’t really a concern if you can cover it up. One only has to consider the real world situations like the Enron, Libor, and Satyam scandals, the KPMG tax shelters, or FlowTex’s phantom sales.

      • Fair points made by both of you but we could be reading a little too deeply here. Let’s not forget that it’s science fiction and that is a medium that’s perfect for exploring philosophical ideas. The main reason why it’s a clones only serves the existential element to the story. It wouldn’t have worked otherwise. It goes back to Descartes and his philosophical theory of “I think therefore I am”. This was further explored by the replicants in Blade Runner. It’s about their purpose and need to exist that’s the main draw. Ultimately, Moon is a character study and the effects on one man, whose purpose and memories of life are stripped away from him.

      • Yes, to reading too much into things.

  6. Hell yes, Mr. Walker. You finally got around to watching this and I am so happy you love it. I love the comparisons to Solaris, as I definitely saw that as well, and of course, the comparisons to 2001 as well. I wrote a post not too long ago about Moon (my 3rd or so post since my site’s inception lol), and you hit on several of the same points. And I am very happy you mention Clint Mansell’s score. And as I type this I realize you had already seen it when commenting on my post lol. So… forget the first part.

    http://cinekatz.com/five-reasons-why-moon-is-one-of-the-best-sci-fi-film-of-the-past-ten-years/

    Because I love plugging my own stuff… that sounds naughty.

    • Thank you Mr. Powell. I had seen this already and even reviewed it before but I wasn’t happy with my writing then. It was written when I wasn’t really taking my blog seriously and have always wanted to go back to it one day. It’s such a great film and definitely echoes Solaris and 2001 yet still stands it’s own ground.

      I’ll swing by on your shameless plug in a little while. Cheers bud! ;)

  7. Brilliant review. It’s shocking that I have not seen this, sounds great. I feel like it’s a sort of film alike to “Prince of Darkness”, in that it focuses on the concept and not brilliant CGI or action sequences. However not alike in terms of acting, lol.

    • In terms of concept and small budget you could say that it’s as effective as Prince of darkness, Chris, but certainly nowhere near the same in terms of storyline. This is a fantastic little film and one you should definitely seek out.

  8. I was just talking to Nick about this film on my post today that I’ve got the major plot spoiled for me by Reddit a few weeks ago :( I’m still interested to see it though, as Rockwell is ace!

    • That’s a shame that it’s been spoiled Ruth. That’s my last two posts (this and The Departed) that have been spoiled for you. Still worth seeking out, though.

      • Yeah I know, I guess that’s the worst part about social media. I was going through some threads on Reddit when someone mentioned what Rockwell’s character was :(

        Btw, would love to hear your opinion on today’s question on FC. Some of your faves are represented I think :D

      • I know what you mean. I currently on season 3 of Breaking Bad and been trying to avoid spoilers at all costs. It’s hard when you’re looking through stuff.

        Yeah, I’ll drop by later on that post of yours Ruth. I seen the title and it’s one I’m interested in answering. :)

  9. Nice work Mark, an impressive debut film eh? Thought Rockwell was good in this, but then he’s always good. I like the retro 70s vibe going on too.

  10. Our Film Club just watched this and I have to say that I was impressed with this film.

  11. Mighty fine review. To my shame I’ve never finished Moon. I’ve always wanted to because I enjoyed what I was seeing. You’ve relit that fire my friend.

  12. The fact Rockwell didn’t win, or still least get a nomination is appalling. One of my favourite films of all time. Outstanding post Mark!!

    • I feel your pain Joseph. I do! Rockwell could easily have laid claim to an awards victory for this role but being up against Jeff Bridges was a tough one. Still, a fucking nomination, man. He deserved at least that.

  13. Never seen it, but Nick keeps banging on about it (as do others) so I bought the blu ray last week. Worries me a little you loved it, since we disagreed about a certain space themed movie recently, but we shall see :)

  14. Such an amazing film. Sam Rockwell is always great but it was really, really great in this one.

  15. Nice review. It is a superb little movie and definitely one of the best sci-fi films in recent years. And as you said, Rockwell was ignored by the Oscars.

  16. Great work here Mark and always nice to see a mention of Soderbergh’s under-appreciated Solaris. I loved this movie right until the final few moments which I felt weren’t necessary. That being said it’s been a few years so I could do with revisiting it.

  17. Glad to see you, as well as all those who commented, love this movie. It is an excellent, but oft-overlooked piece of sci-fi.

    • Absolutely Wendell. It’s one of the best of recent times. Such a brilliant piece of cinema. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. It’s always nice to see a new face :)

  18. Great review. I love Moon, it really gives you a feeling of loneliness like no other

  19. Fantastic read here, Mark. Glad you did go ahead and post your review after all. :D

  20. Great review man. Definitely one of the best sci-fi films of recent years. It’s just so simple. You saw Oblivion with Tom Cruise right? I can’t believe how much it took from Moon.

  21. David Bowie’s son did a great job with this one. :-)

  22. One of the best sci-fi movies ever! PERIOD!
    Good write up, Mark.

  23. […] Sam – source Tess – source GERTY – source Multiple “Sams” – source Outside shot – […]

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