I saw a great new ‘indie’ science fiction film called Moon this past Sunday. I’ve tried not to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie, but describing things got a bit tricky. Directed by Duncan Jones and starring Sam Rockwell, Moon is a beautifully executed film, as well as a loving homage to classic science fiction films of the 1960s and 70s. Basically if you are like me and love 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, and classic psychological science fiction literature, you’ll love Moon. The movie plays like a Ray Bradbury short story come to life.
Moon is the “animatter” to the modern popular science fiction “matter” like the new Star Trek reboot. Don’t get me wrong, I actually enjoyed Star Trek, and thought that it had a decent plot, which is more than a lot of movies out now can say. (I’m looking at you, Transformers.) However the plot didn’t drive the film, the big budget effects did. But that’s one of the many wonderful things about Moon; it relies on the suspense in the narrative, and one terrific actor to move the story along. The pace is slow and meditative, and takes its time to reveal the big secrets of the film.
I thought the best thing about this great film was star Sam Rockwell’s acting. The films that have played a single actor against himself or herself are under a dozen, and the films that do it convincingly (Adaptation springs to mind) can be counted on one hand. Rockwell’s challenge was to play a character that has to confront himself in the most terrifying way possible. If we met ourselves in real life, would we like who we are?
On top of all that, the visual effects, especially the design of the vehicles and the lunar base, are fantastic. The atmosphere of the sets accomplish the rare feat of being futuristic yet realistic. The moon base has clearly been lived in; the floor and robot are dirty, there are pictures and posters littering the walls, you believe that the walls are heavy and the machinery is greasy. In addition, I noticed many visual quotes of 2001 throughout the base:
The padded hallway:
Gerty, the personal assistant robot:
Moon was released around the 40th anniversary of the first lunar landing, and I think it’s a fine tribute that also functions as a cautionary tale. The most frightening thing that we might encounter in space most likely won’t be alien life; it will be the parts of society that us humans choose to bring with us.