Three cheers for Sam Rockwell and David Bowie's son!
-Hip hip, hoorayyy! Hip hip, hoorayyy!! Hip hip, hooorraayyy!!!-
At the crest of 2009, film geeks and cinephiles alike were hailing this as the year of the Sci-Fi. So many good trailers! So much buzz! But it's too good to be true, isn't it? Isn't it? Well, my dear friends, it's beginning to look like the rumors and speculation have a bit of wind beneath their wings. Maybe this is Sci-Fi's resurrection. We've already seen Star Trek meet and exceed expectations. And we can stack Moon up onto that shelf as well. Here's to hoping District 9, Mr. Nobody, Hunter Prey, and Avatar follow this trend.
Moon's premise is quite simple. A company called Lunar Industries is the world's leading provider of clean energy, whose source is the helium 3 built up in the rocks on the moon's surface, as a result of millennia exposed to the sun's radiation. There are [supposedly] many bases across the moons surface, each manned by a single crew member. On the Sarang Mining Base, the crew member is Sam Bell, played phenomenally by Sam Rockwell. He is accompanied only by a robot named Gerty, voiced by Kevin Spacey in a surprisingly eerie turn.
Immediately, the production design awes. An organic, white set accompanied by spare, but very effective lighting, sets the perfect mood. The space station looks lived-in and believable, a realism that sci-fi almost rarely achieves. Sam's duties consist of collecting the shells of energy from roving harvesters and bringing it back to the base to send to earth in small pods. As he climbs in his rover and drives away we get to see the exterior shots on the moon's surface, which are astonishing. The light almost looks as if it's filtering through the dust of decades of cinema, casting a retro-glow over Sam Rockwell's squinting eyes. All the while Clint Mansell's haunting score hangs delicately in the air, expanding upon the emptiness and isolation of the moon.
The beautiful cinematography, under Gary Shaw's direction, patiently observes Sam's lonely life on the moon. He eats food out of freeze dried packages, talks to his plants, and receives only recorded messages from his wife, Tess. His contract is two weeks away from completion, and everything seems to be going peachy keen. It's only when he starts hallucinating and accidently crashes into a harvester, do things start to get strange.
Sam wakes in the infirmary and is greeted by Gerty who tells him he had a crash and needs to rest. The monitors in the station all flash about the stalled rover that Sam crashed into. Defying these orders, Sam fakes a hull breach and exits the base to observe the crash site. When he arrives at the downed rover, he climbs inside and finds a second astronaut who is completely identical to him. To say any more would give away to much of the intricate plot, but suffice it to say, this is one of the smartest sci-fi movies I've ever seen, and its quiet, observational look into isolation and the human psyche will leave you thinking. Duncan Jone's directing biceps are only just beginning to flex and I'll eagerly await his next feature.
Moon is a film that can't be missed for sci-fi aficionados and film appreciators alike. Check out the trailer, here.
Alex Deaton - Moooooooo-O.K. I'm done doing that. Sorry...-(ooon)