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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.