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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 28.85%
Average: 3.85%
Pretty Bad: 7.69%
Total Crap: 5.77%

4 reviews, 28 user ratings

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by Jay Seaver

"A one-man show worth cheering for."
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2009 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL: I will not lie to you; as soon as I read the description of "Moon", I had mentally anointed it my favorite film of the festival, to the point where not only would another film have to blow me away, but this one would have to screw up. I like Sam Rockwell, good acting, nifty visuals, and I have a particular fondness for this particular, underappreciated part of future history (the "interplanetary era"). Well, as it turns out, a film or two did impress me a lot, but this one not only didn't screw up, but it wound up being one of the smartest, most well-rounded science fiction films in recent memory.

In the future, the energy crisis has been averted by cheap fusion, fueled by Helium-3. Lunar Industries maintains a mostly-automated base on the dark side of the moon to collect it, with astronaut Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) and base computer GERTY (voice of Kevin Spacey) monitoring the four rolling drone refineries. He's nearing the end of his three-year tour, and it's a good thing; the isolation is starting to make him peculiar; it doesn't help that the relay satellite that would allow him to communicate with Earth in real time is busted. Days before his return trip, there's an accident when he takes his buggy out to retrieve the contents of one of the rovers; fortunately, there are failsafes in place and he wakes up back in the base. Something seems amiss, though; is GERTY hiding something?

There's a mystery at the center of Moon, of course, one that it would be terribly wrong of me to spoil. Thankfully, filmmaker Duncan Jones (director, author of the original story) and screenwriter Nathan Parker do not feel the need to keep things from the audience past the point where keeping secrets creates more plot holes than it does suspense. The keystone revelation comes fairly early, and though there is a surprise or three after that, nearly all of them fall under the heading of details. When Jones turns things on their head, he makes sure that both Sam and the audience has a chance to consider and react to it.

Most of the movie is Sam reacting to it, and that means Sam Rockwell has to be on the top of his game. Moon is pretty close to being a one-man show - Kevin Spacey has a great computer voice, but is called on to give a deliberately non-expressive performance, and there's no room in the story for other characters and actors for Rockwell to work off. It's up to Rockwell to show us exactly what's going on in Sam's head at any given time - which, given the situation, can vary quite a bit even within a scene - and he does an exemplary job of that, especially considering that Jones chooses to eliminate something that could make for an easy visual cue for the audience and forgo the often-used chestnut of giving someone at the edge of sanity a hallucination to talk to.

The film was introduced at the festival with the sort of comment that often annoys me, that its a good science fiction film because it relies on great acting rather than special effects. I chuckled a little afterward, because it winds up being a case where the fine acting and effects serve to buttress each other; if one had faltered, the other wouldn't look quite so good. That's just one part of what the visual effects guys were doing; the other part, the obvious stuff on the surface of the moon, was also very impressive. You can give a little more of your smallish independent movie's budget to the tech guys when you've basically got a cast of one, and the tech guys do some terrific model work. What we see looks instantly familiar from the last decade or two of footage from lunar and martian rovers, but is also dramatic and dynamic enough to make for good movie visuals.

Jones and Parker do a fine job all around. Moon isn't the hardest of hard science fiction, but it has pleasing attention to detail for those of us that really like attention to detail: The science holds up, for the most part, and where it's beyond the filmmaker's abilities, they do the best they can: Most people will stop watching to see if they get lunar gravity right well before I do, for instance, so if things fall at a non-plot-affecting one gee, it doesn't happen until after that point. Like the best science fiction, it's a story that follows directly from its speculative premise (rather than a conventional story transplanted to an unusual milieu), which gives its characters new and difficult decisions to make and emotional turmoil to go through.

That just doesn't come around often enough, and when it does, it's not usually nearly as good across the board as it is here. I wish that happened more often; more people would respect science fiction as a genre and those who are already fans would get something besides spectacle.

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originally posted: 04/03/09 14:38:19
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2009 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2009 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 CineVegas Film Festival For more in the 2009 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Philadelphia Film Festival For more in the 2009 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Seattle International Film Festival For more in the 2009 Seattle International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Edinburgh International Film Festival For more in the 2009 Edinburgh International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/30/16 morris campbell overrated bore skip it 1 stars
3/29/16 Aj wales Dreary overated. Story poor. What was the whole point. 2 stars
4/07/15 Vaselir 5031f06cb9aaf10295a17fca86ac0644 3 stars
11/16/14 Rashad What's the last date I can post this to to arrive in time for Christmas? <a href=" h 4 stars
10/24/14 Jonathan We work together <a href=" ">buy bimatoprost overnight free delivery</a> The economic slo 2 stars
6/14/12 Josie Cotton is a goddess Slow but good 4 stars
10/20/11 Magic This movie beats other sci fi movies with five times its budget. Rockwell's acting. Whoa. 5 stars
6/12/11 Merle It is a great movie to put you to sleep. 2 stars
4/21/11 Ace-of-Stars My only complaint was waiting for Sam to share his more grim discoveries, which never came 4 stars
3/01/11 Captain Slog My favourite sci fi movie of all time. Great soundtrack too 5 stars
2/12/11 Ionicera Amazing performance by Sam Rockwell but leaves too many plot strings dangling 4 stars
11/21/10 mr.mike The miniatures looked fake , distracting from a good story. 3 stars
5/12/10 Dave Bowman Rockwell's performance was pure cinematic Gestalt. 4 stars
4/05/10 erik if you fell asleep, you need a brain. 5 stars
3/11/10 daveyt loved the seamless normality, Rockwell's on top form 4 stars
2/19/10 Craig Brilliant. A must see. 5 stars
2/01/10 Langano Best film of 2009. 5 stars
1/15/10 Sevarian Excellent all across the board 5 stars
11/20/09 DsTiOSo Hi! rQheRkx 1 stars
8/13/09 thejames good soundtrack, entertaining, ends too soon. 4 stars
7/14/09 damalc excellent; like "2001" without the pretentiousness 4 stars
7/14/09 Suzz don't miss this film if you like great sci-fi 5 stars
6/26/09 Tim a challenging sci-fi posing so many pertinent questions in such discreet fashion 5 stars
6/22/09 Toni Awesome! So much to like abt the movie - the emoticon on GERTY was genius 5 stars
6/21/09 Ming sorry this film make me falling asleep..not much exciting happening 2 stars
6/18/09 jurisprudence man this sucked 1 stars
6/18/09 george ljjhKW bkwPpwvo03NXzw47jvGa 4 stars
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  12-Jun-2009 (R)
  DVD: 29-Dec-2009


  DVD: 29-Dec-2009

Directed by
  Duncan Jones

Written by
  Nathan Parker

  Sam Rockwell
  Kevin Spacey
  Matt Berry
  Kaya Scodelario
  Benedict Wong
  Malcolm Stewart

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