Sunday, March 07, 2010

Movie Review - Moon

Summary from Metacritic:

It is the near future. Astronaut Sam Bell is living on the far side of the moon, completing a three-year contract with Lunar Industries to mine Earth’s primary source of energy, Helium-3. It is a lonely job, made harder by a broken satellite that allows no live communications home. Taped messages are all Sam can send and receive. Thankfully, his time on the moon is nearly over, and Sam will be reunited with his wife, Tess, and their three-year-old daughter, Eve, in only a few short weeks. But, Sam’s health starts to deteriorate. Painful headaches, hallucinations and a lack of focus lead to an almost fatal accident on a routine drive on the moon in a lunar rover. While recuperating back at the base (with no memory of how he got there), Sam meets a younger, angrier version of himself, who claims to be there to fulfill the same three year contract Sam started all those years ago. Confined with what appears to be a clone of his earlier self, and with a “support crew” on its way to help put the base back into productive order, Sam is fighting the clock to discover what’s going on and where he fits into company plans.

Is he going crazy?  Is that other version of himself really there?  Bearing more resemblence to the existential sci-fi of the past than of modern crap like Transformers II, Moon is a welcome little surprise.  The story is by, and the movie is directed by Duncan Jones.  That name is probably not familiar, but his lineage is.  Duncan Jones is David Bowie's son.
Old school special effects evocative of 2001 and a general look not unlike that movie and maybe the inside of the Nostromo in Alien.  This was a low-budget independent ($5 million budget, I heard) but the effects are not bad.  They really play to the story of a man who has been alone on the moon base for many years (longer than he knows).  There are subtle references and similarities to 2001, most notably in the robot voiced by Kevin Spacey.

In pacing and theme, reminds me of Solaris.  It's largely psychological like that movie.  Don't go into this expecting a shoot-em-up Hollywood sci-fi movie.  It's contemplative, some might even consider it plodding.  But I feel it's essential for the development of the plot.  And only an actor as talented as Sam Rockwell could pull it off.  Sam Rockwell is great. His performance is more than a little reminiscent of Tom Hanks in Castaway in that his acting is about playing off himself.  I really think he is one of the best American actors out there but he doesn't get a lot of credit.

 Moon explores the nature of consciousness, loving oneself, loneliness, paranoia, and even the individual's role in corporations.

There have been some really good sci-fi movies over the last few years (District 9, Serenity, Star Trek, Sunshine) and Moon is proof that the trend is continuing.  Grade:  A-


wunelle said...

Interesting that you mention Solaris; that's the film that came to mind (for whatever reason) when I read the synopsis. I loved that movie--perhaps in part because of Natasha McElhone--and I'll have to look for this one.

CyberKitten said...

I saw this @ a friends house after Christmas. After hearing good things about it I must admit to being less than impressed.

I see what you meant about Solaris. The Clooney version was very good - especially Clooney himself (proving the man can actually act).

Wunelle - totally agree about Natasha McElhone [swoons]

dbackdad said...

Yeah, I liked Solaris too. Moody, atmospheric.

SadieLou said...

oooo, thanks. Just the fact that the movie is directed by Davis Bowie's son caught my attention and led me to add it to my netflix...which reminds me, did you quit netflix?

dbackdad said...

CK - I get what you are saying. A lot of people have been pumping up Moon for awhile. It's tough to go into something with hightened expectations and then it turns out to be meh. I had heard some of the hype but was still only expecting a cheap indie film in space. As such, it didn't disappoint me. It's not all about what was on the screen but a lot about the subtext, and what was going on in the character's head. And I kinda like the throwback style of it.

Sadie - We quit Netflix quite awhile ago. I really had no complaint about it. We just found that we were not great about watching the films in a timely manner. I am so much of a film nut, I just buy passes in bulk at Costco and I buy gobs of used DVD's at Blockbuster and Hollywood Video. I bought Moon, Drag me To Hell, Zombieland, District 9, Up and City of Ember, and, you'll love this, Gran Torino, just in the last couple of weeks. I'm the kind of cinenerd that will watch them multiple times, watch the documentary extras and even watch them with director commentory on. Seriously, someone needs to pay me for all the ways I manage to waste colossal amounts of time.

BTW, my Word Verification was "mensa" ... gotta love that.

SadieLou said...

Did we already talk about City of Ember? I really liked it. Have you watched it?
The older kids enjoyed it-Andy was bored.
The girl was amazing-is she the girl from Lovely Bones?
It's sad that I can't see some of the Oscar Nominated movies but I have learned to trust my sensitivities.

Inglorious Basterds-I don't agree with the premise. This sort of re-writing history and repaying evil for evil...doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

The Lovely Bones-Cannot watch kids in serious peril. I couldn't even watch the clip for Stanley Tucci's Oscar nomination.

What did you think about both of those? I watched Shutter Island and I had to look away a few times-and plug my ears actually...LOL

dbackdad said...

Alex and I are watching Ember tonight. And, yes, that's the girl from Lovely Bones (and Atonement).

Basterds was good ... but I agree the premise is a bit weird to accept. The two women German actresses and the guy that won the Oscar were all great.

Tucci was the epitome of creepy in Lovely Bones ... maybe that was the point. He was better in Julie and Julia. I reviewed Lovely Bones, the book, on my blog. Can't remember if I reviewed the movie. I liked the imagery and acting, just couldn't buy into the premise.

As much as I like Scorcese, Leo and Ruffalo, I can't bring myself to see Shutter Island. Have heard too many bad reviews.

Will let you know what I think of Ember tomorrow.

SadieLou said...

Yeah, I'll pass on Lovely Bones-I don't think I could handle the book either.

Here's my take on Shutter Island:
I am a huge fan of Alfred Hitchcock and the Psychological Thriller genre. Huge Fan. This movie had all the right ingredients.
I just think Scorsese overplayed his hand a bit. He tried too hard with some of it. The soundtrack, for instance, was over the top.
Little nitpicking things like that throughout the whole movie so you have this overall feeling of disappointment even though the bones of the film like plot, direction, character development, cinematography, all that stuff was spot on.
It's really too bad because it's really, really good.
You should rent it.

dbackdad said...

I'm sure I'll still see Shutter Island. I'm just not going to see it in the first-run theaters.

City of Ember was good. My wife watched it too and liked it. I do like that young actress. I'm sure we are going to be seeing quite a bit of her over the years.

Because of how I am, I couldn't help taking the story as an alleghory about religion. The people seemed overly pious, prone to singing and unwilling to try and leave. There were several lines about a "candle in the dark" that reminded me of Carl Sagan's "Science as a Candle in the Dark". My take on the story is not what the author intended, I believe. Nothing I can find on the internet indicates is was. The story is about closed-mindedness in general, but not something specific.

Regardless, I like the story and it was enjoyable to Alex, who is 9.

watch movies said...

Interesting movie. Its a great sci-fic movie which doesn't have any aliens or other creatures but a robot and a lonely space craft. The story is about how one survives on a lonely planet...