PLOT - In the near future astronaut Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is on the dark side of the moon, running the Lunar Industries station, mining Helium-3, the primary source of energy for Earth. He's alone up there, with no one for company but a robot named Gerty (voiced by Kevin Spacey). His three year contract is up in a few weeks and he can't wait to get home to his wife and young daughter. In all this time, the only contact he's had with them are taped messages sent back and forth as is no live feed to Earth. But after Sam has an accident (caused by a hallucination, something that is happening more and more frequently), he wakes up to discover that things on the station are not quite as they seem.
REVIEW - OK there was no way I wasn't going to like this film. Sam Rockwell, nods to classic sci-fi flicks, fuzzy dice on the moon rover...and a story that actually explores something deeper than how fancy CG spaceships can be. Not that there is anything wrong with big budget, CGI-techs-gone-wild, fast food tie-in sci-fi films. Not at all. In fact, if I'm not lucky enough to get a screening invite, I'm likely to be one of the geeks in line all night for the midnight premiere. But there is something in me that misses the deep psychological questions in films like BLADE RUNNER. Is he a replicant? Does that really take away his humanity? What is up with Daryl Hannah's makeup...sorry. MOON is a fan's tribute to the old style of sci-fi and I'm happy to see it's return.
Director Duncan Jones (who is the son of David Bowie...not sure how I can pass up the opportunity to mention “Space Oddity”) also wrote the original story. He got the idea from the book “Entering Space” by Robert Zubrin, discussing how, in the absence of the Cold War, the only way we were going to get back to the moon was if there was some profit in it. And the profit is mining HE3. And just how you make that cost effective is one of the questions the film poses. MOON is a heartfelt exploration of loneliness and death...and surprisingly entertaining. Explorations of loneliness and death rarely involve a Sam Rockwell happy dance (and butt shot....sorry, I'm a girl).
MOON is more fun than any indie film with a five million dollar budget generally manages to be. Duncan said in our interview (check it out HERE) that keeping the cast small was one of the ways to cut costs, and for most of the film, Rockwell is the only person on screen. And he pulls if off beautifully. His performance is incredibly detailed and nuanced...it's hard to say more than that without giving too much away. Spacey's voice is immediately recognizable once Gerty starts talking, but strangely, that doesn't take you out of the world. The robot broadcasts emoticons to counter his monotone voice, but if you're familiar with Spacey's acting style at all, they're almost unnecessary. You know just what his expression would be.
You can tell the budget is small, especially in the outdoor shots. They did some amazing work with miniatures and a small bit of CG, but the eye is too sophisticated nowadays not to be able to spot them. But wasn't that sort of the fun of old school sci-fi? Telling your friends that you can see the boxes around the Tie Fighters or in what shots you could see wires? The interior shots are well done and the series of extreme close ups on Rockwell's face really give you a sense of isolation. Clint Mansell's score is stunning, and the man obviously has a sense of humor. I'm convinced that I heard the boingy noise from THE BIONIC WOMAN at one point.
Jones told me after the interview that he just heard they'd sold out the movie world wide. I'm hoping people will take a break from their giant robots and famous series relaunches to check this one out. Maybe it will start a new trend in the indie world. I think Jones has a long career ahead of him. (P.S. He said his dad liked the film.)