Moon film review

Director            Duncan Jones

Writer               Nathan Parker

Lead                  Sam Rockwell

Budget              $5m

Box Office         $9.8m

Tomatometer    89%


Duncan Jones, in an attempt to escape his father’s rather large shadow, made his directorial debut with 2009’s Moon, starring Sam Rockwell as Sam Bell in a solo performance alongside voiceover by Kevin Spacey as a HAL-wannabe, GERTY.

In the not too distant future we have a lunar base on the Moon and have begun to mine Helium-3 from the lunar soil. At the Sarang Station, individual workers are placed on a three-year stint.

Whilst on the Moon, Sam begins to suffer from hallucinations and from one such vision, he loses concentration and crashes a lunar rover into a harvester, falling unconscious after losing air. This damage forces Lunar Industries, the company responsible for harvesting the moon, to send out help and repairs.

Sam wakes up with no memory of the crash and he becomes suspicious of GERTY, voiced by Kevin Spacey before we all found out he was a wrong-un. Sam creates a fake problem in order to let himself discover the lunar rover and discovers his doppelganger knocked out in the rover.

Once the other Sam Bell regains his consciousness, they both start to believe that each other are clones. There are numerous segments in which they form the plot of a structurally sound buddy movie and after the suspicion there is always a fight and more often than not a reconciliation.

The third step in this buddy movie structure is realised thanks to the movie’s turn in the road, which is up there with the best that the 21st century has had to offer, alongside Shutter Island and definitely better than that dreadful twist in M. Night’s The Village.

It’s very rare to see a hard science-fiction film. Since the release of Moon we have had Interstellar which took the hard science-fiction element to another level in parts and, some might say, bastardised it in other parts.

With all science-fiction, especially with the genre being shot into orbit, there’s the risk of the stereotypically evil artificial intelligence that was seemingly made insurmountable in one of its first versions with 2001: A Space Odyssey’s HAL in 1968.

On the face of it, you might be excused for being worried that GERTY might be a knock-off version of HAL, given Spacey’s naturally creepy voice. Fundamentally, however, the comparison starts and ends there. GERTY has facial features and a somewhat physical form instead of a suspicious red eye on multiple screens.

Here I am 400+ words in and haven’t even mentioned what a fantastic performance Sam Rockwell gave throughout this film. Rockwell plays both sides of Bell incredibly well, the side which plunges into isolation and depression and the other side which was physically and mentally healthy.

Amazingly, the film’s only major award was for Duncan Jones from BAFTA for Jones in the Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer category.

It’s a heart-warming yet soul destroying piece at the same time. Duncan Jones hits all the notes both in the narrative and scientifically in his directorial debut.

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