Movie Review: Moon

“You look like a radioactive tampon…like a banana with a yeast infection.”

“You know what? He’s one of two things: he’s a whacko or an illegal immigrant. Either way, they need to lock him up. Line two!”

Moon is a dark and lonely trek through the haunted passages of the human mind.

The story takes place an indeterminate time in the future. It follows astronaut Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), an employee of LUNAR Industries—a mining corporation supplying Earth’s energy needs through the extraction of Helium-3 from the Moon. Just two weeks from the end of his contracted stint in desolate space, Bell begins to suffer from hallucinations—bad ones. And as suspicion of both his employers and his robot caretaker GERTY (Kevin Spacey) begins to grow, he is forced to come face-to-face with himself—in more ways than one.

While paying homage to classic Sci-fi films like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Solaris, this movie presents us with a bleak future—a vision of Big Brother gone awry in the black emptiness beyond our global borders. Director Duncan Jones takes us deep into the confines of the human psyche and explores the madness that arises when faced with the impossible and lonely.

It is masterfully done. It is thought-provoking, and the thoughts stick with you—as well as the implications they raise. Clone rights are certainly nothing new to the Sci-fi world, but Moon plumbs the ethics behind it to their very depths. As it goes on, it begs the frightening question of morality—what does it mean in a time and a world where anything can be done?

I kept expecting this one to morph into some sort of killer AI flick at some point—from the very moment GERDY started looking suspicious. GERDY, however, turns out to be a unique AI in his own right—ignoring this old trope, he actually turns out to be a rather helpful little thing, a unique personality within the Sci-fi world.

Rockwell delivers a wonderful performance that is bolstered by a well-developed script, fraught with sharp dialogue that makes him shine as an individual. Normally, I’m not so big on these one-man cast films, and there’s an issue all its own in having one guy act with multiple versions of himself, but Moon shows how it’s done.

That said, the movie can get slow at points. It’s all about the drama, and action certainly isn’t part of the equation, but the experience remains something to behold. It builds, on you and on itself, and the cinematography and the musical score work to enhance every action and scene. They add to the haunting universe into which we have been propelled—with eerie ups and disturbing downs that lure the unwary into the heights and depths of human emotion. The claustrophobic scenery may seem somewhat retro, but it adds a stark moodiness to the film, which is intensified by the long, lonely treks into the dusty, desolate plains of the moon, and the black emptiness beyond. It is symbolic, and chilling.

What makes this movie work is not the cavalcade of explosive special effects we commonly associate with the Sci-fi of today: it is the simplicity. It is the realization that this movie, unlike so many before it, is not so far-fetched. It could happen. It is realistic. A few decades, a dedicated scientific community—and the soul-crushing implications of Moon could be very well at hand.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

~ by Chris G. on May 28, 2010.

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