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Film | Moon (2009)

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Ground Control to Major Tom … or in this case, Sam Bell. Moon is the Space Odyssey 2001 meets Philip K Dick film from director (and Bowie son) Duncan Jones.

It’s the not-too-distant future of a post-climate changed planet Earth. Us humans have discovered a new and seemingly sustainable source of energy — fusion power from the Moon. Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell; Frost/Nixon) is stationed at a base that harvests the energy on the moon. For the duration of his 3-year contract, he’s pretty much alone. Well, all except for GERTY, an artificially intelligent computer modelled on Space Odyssey’s HAL9000 and with a penchant for using emoticons for expression. GERTY is voiced by Kevin Spacey.

Sam has just two weeks before his 3-year contract ends and he can return home to his wife and daughter. But, like that quintessential cop about to retire, something big is about to happen and it might just pull that hope from right under his feet. It’s not an alien or Sigourney Weaver. It’s something much closer to home. The rest you’ll have to see for yourself.

For a movie that features one character (and a robot) and one location, it’s a gripping and compelling story. Moon stands alongside those sci-fi films that put humans alongside machines and technology, and asks us to consider what it is to be human (think Bladerunner). Sam has to confront some pretty hard hitting things, and seeing him do this is extremely moving. All of this takes place in a desolate, lonely, existential lunar landscape — the perfect backdrop for an exploration of the human condition.

There’s no doubt Moon is pretty derivative, with obvious allusions to Space Odyssey — the AI computer, the musical score over lunar/space scenes, the minimalism. I was pretty cynical and skeptical at first. But the story pushes through this — I found myself growing very much attached to Sam and captivated by the plot enough to forget about Space Odyssey.

Rockwell gives a great performance as Sam and, as you’ll see, the plot throws up an interesting ask for him as an actor, to which he responds well for the most part. I did feel that Sam’s immediate response to his crisis was a little understated and matter of fact. It’s a profound crisis for the character and it did feel a little contrived or rushed. [I’d also add that Rockwell’s butt makes a very fine performance throughout the movie.]

GERTY is great. With the knowledge I brought to this film of HAL900, I was teetering with suspicion over this clinical, potentially passive-aggressive computer. Whose side is it on? Will it be like HAL900? Spacey, name aside, was a good choice for the voice.

No amazing special effects in this movie and, at times, it was quite obvious models were being used — all too obvious in a Thunderbirds kinda way. Though, this makes the film endearing.

Moon is a touching reminder of what it is to be human. Watch the trailer below. Also, an interview with Duncan Jones and Sam Rockwell below.

» Moon Official Website

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Written by Darren Smith

11 October 2009 at 2:08 pm

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