Monday, August 3, 2009

Moon (2009) - Duncan Jones

Moon (2009)
Director: Duncan Jones
Writers: Duncan Jones (Original Story), Nathan Parker (Screenplay)
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey, Matt Berry, Robin Chalk, Dominique McElligott, Kaya Scodelario, Malcolm Stewart, Benedict Wong

I will start off by saying that Moon (2009) was not at all what I expected. That is not at all a bad thing though. While the trailers made the film look interesting, it kind of came across as more suspenseful, thriller type movie. While the movie does have quite a few moments of suspense, it is more of a character drama than it is a thriller. The story was a lot more straight forward than I expected it to be and I think I really liked that about the film.

I don't want to give to much away but when it comes down to it Moon is a deceptively simple film. Sam Bell is nearing the end of his three year contract as a miner alone on the moon. He is responsible for keeping the machinery running and making sure the Earth gets the Helium-3 that has become our main source of energy. Now that he is so close to going home things begin to happen that make him question everything around him.

Two things make this film work. First, the script is really well done. Sam Bell is an interesting character and his story is very well told. The other thing that makes the film work is Sam Rockwell. He carries this movie by himself for the most part. For most of the film he is talking to himself except of course when he is talking to GERTY, the computer on the station voiced by Kevin Spacey. This movie would not work if Sam Rockwell were not up to the task of starring in a film practically by himself but he is able to rise to the challenge.

The film is in some ways very original but it also takes some inspiration from some really great science fiction films. The two most notable films that I thought of while watching Moon were 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Alien (1979). The homages to 2001: A Space Odyssey are not just that Moon has a HAL like computer but also in the way the film was shot. Duncan Jones decided to use miniatures when he could have easily have gotten away with computer graphics. While not on the same level as the effects 2001: A Space Odyssey, there is just something about using practical effects that makes things in the movie seem much more real than anything that can be created with a computer.

The film also manages to bring forward feelings of claustrophobia and isolation that are prominent in both Alien and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Also, like Alien, this film also has some things to say about the way corporations can sometimes treat there employees as disposable, of course to say anymore would be to give away too much. Even though there are many homages to both these films, Moon does not borrow too much from either film. It manages to be much more original that most things in Hollywood.

The sets created for the film are simply amazing. This is one of those science fiction films that seems like it could actually take place in the real world, just a few years down the road. It seems like the film makers put a lot of thought into how to make the set look realistic and how to realistically portray living alone on the moon. They also took time to personalize the sets to really give it the feel that Sam had been there for three years. The space looks like a clean and tidy space station but at the same time looks very lived in; Sam has left his personal touches all over the station.

Overall I found the film to be really enjoyable. The script, directing and acting were all done really well. The story is well told and has a enough surprises to really keep the audiences wondering where it is going. The film never goes where one would expect it to go but it also manages to tell a grounded and realistic story. It doesn't rely on shocks and scares to keep you interested. The film takes a good story with an interesting characters and manages to completely pull you in right from the beginning.

Rating: 8/10

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