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Moon

Reviewed by Galen Strickland

Ground Control to Duncan Jones!

First off, I have to say that I feel it unlikely to happen, but Sam Rockwell deserves an Oscar nomination for his role(s) in this film. Second, it's going to be difficult not to spoil certain elements of the plot, so this will be brief. Bottom line, go see it if it comes to your town. I was surprised it made it here on the same weekend it premiered in Austin, but I doubt it will stick around very long. A very good film, but not one that is likely to appeal to the general movie-going audience used to blockbusters like Transformers or the latest animated family film.

UPDATE: Moon was presented with a Hugo Award at the recent AussieCon4 in Melbourne. This is in addition to others it has received, which you can see in the column to the right. Take the IMDb link for information on all awards for which it has won and/or been nominated.

Co-written and directed by Duncan Jones (son of David Bowie), Moon is a (somewhat) realistic account of an outpost on the far side of Earth's satellite, devoted to mining H³, a form of helium which is then transported to Earth to be used as a source fuel for over 75% of the world's energy needs. I don't recall any mention of what year this is supposed to be occuring, but the implication is that it is only a matter of time before H³ will be the only energy source used on the planet. It is possible you may be confused by the opening sequence of the film, mistaking it for yet another screen ad so prevalent in theaters today.

Much has been made of the fact that the film's budget was only $5 million in an era when anything less than $50 million is considered a low budget. There is minimal use of CGI, most everything is just studio sets and miniature models, which gives the film a more realistic look. The exterior shots of the moon rovers reminds me a lot of the actual footage we saw back in the early 1970s when our astronauts were there. The moonscapes and distant shots of Earth are beautifully rendered.

I don't really want to be too vague, but as I said before it would be easy to spoil the minimal plot. The reason I said the story is somewhat realistic is the fact that Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is the sole human at this outpost, assisted by the robotic GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey). One would think there would be at least a three or four man crew, if only to avoid psychological damage from isolation for the three-year period Sam's contract calls for. That is...unless a certain plot element is the actual truth...but I still think there is room for interpretation of something else.

That's one of the best things about the film, it will keep you guessing about what is actually happening. Jones and co-scripter Nathan Parker's intention might have been the straight-forward, what you see is what you get approach, but they also leave it open enough to invite other opinions. Is Sam truly alone there? Is what he is experiencing just a symptom of his isolation? Is he hallucinating everything that happens after his accident in the rover? It is obvious he had been hallucinating before the accident, so why not after?

That's as much as I want to say at this time. Mainly I want to stress how refreshing it was to see a science fiction film focused on character and story as opposed to special effects and explosions. We need more like this, so I am hoping it does well enough to allow Jones and company to venture forth to create more, whether or not the next is SF or a more conventional story.

And, damn...I gotta get me one of them Lunar Industries jumpsuits!

 

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Director
Duncan Jones

Screenplay
Duncan Jones
Nathan Parker

Released
July 17, 2009

Cast
Sam Rockwell
Kevin Spacey
Kaya Scodelario
Dominique McElligott

Awards
Hugo
National Board of Review
BAFTA
British Independent Films
London Critics Circle
Phoenix Film Critics
+ numerous film festival awards

Full Credits at IMDb

Available on DVD and Blu-Ray