Film review by: Witney Seibold

 Moon 2 Sams

            I usually don’t try to second-guess films. If I can see a plot twist or a surprise ending coming, I’ll still allow the film to tell it to me in its own idiom; it’s not the surprise itself that will necessarily grab me, but the skill with which it is given. I always know that Othello with die at the end of the play, but a good production will make me think he won’t once again.


            “Moon,” sadly, moves so ploddingly, that second-guessing may come naturally to the anxious viewer. I wasn’t surprised by any of the big “twists,” but that’s not what bothered me. What bothered me was that, once the surprises started to drop, the film didn’t do anything to explore them. It was content to rest on its laurels.


            This is not to say that “Moon” is not a good film; indeed I enjoyed it very much. It’s creepy, it’s atmospheric, and it is able to convey a sense of isolation rarely seen in film. Sam Rockwell, in the only real on-screen role give a tremendous performance of a man slowly deteriorating, both mentally and physically, under the weight of his own loneliness and unstaunchable work ethic.


            Sam Bell (Rockwell) is the only worker manning a lunar outpost. His job is to manage enormous mining machines that are sucking a potent form of energy from moon rocks. His only assistant is a friendly intelligent computer named GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey). He is coming to the end of a three-year tenure, and can’t wait to get home. He cannot communicate with Earth because of an unfixable malfunction in the communications equipment, so has been surviving on recorded messages.


            Sam lives like a man trapped in space would. He does not stand on decorum, he chats openly to himself and to GERTY, he doesn’t bother cleaning up, and he makes damn sure that his job is being done correctly.


            One day, he suffers an accident in his LEM. He is retrieved from the wreckage somehow, and brought to. GERTY begins treating him strangely, forbidding him to leave the lunar compound. When Sam gives GERTY the slip, he discovers the wreckage he survived from, and finds resting inside of it… himself.


            I will give away that one plot detail (as it was given away in the theatrical trailer), but none of the others. Needless to say, the two Sams begin to discuss just what the Sam Hill is goin’ on around here.

 Moon LEM

            Director Duncan Jones (son of pop star David Bowie) skirts very close to some very important questions, but doesn’t really bother to address them. It’s like existentialist angst without the existentialist problems. Once the big revels start to come, you are in awe for a moment, and then begin to question the logic and science of the thing.


            I still recommend this film for its quiet and intense solitude. It also manages to do what only some science fiction does: makes the on-screen technology seem workable and believable; you get the feeling that such a lunar base could actually exist. Well, if you don’t question the issue of gravity.


            I also recommend it for Rockwell’s performance. Rockwell is an underrated actor who will only continue to do good work. He may not always been in the best of films, but he always gives something memorable. I just wish that “Moon” had been smarted than it was.

Published in: on July 6, 2009 at 4:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

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