I like Sam Rockwell. I like weird SF. I like realistic SF. I like indie movies. These four things are all true of Moon. I also do not like lots of people in a theater. Unfortunately, this last one was also true. Moon is a very-indie, low-budget SF flick kind of out in theaters right now. Kind of because it is only one one small screen in all of Huntsville. It is too good to be this ignored. I am not surprised, though. When we watched Scanner Darkly, Sarah and I were not the only people in there, but there were maybe three or four more people, and this old couple where the husband seemed really into it and the wife kept asking "What was that? What just happened?" I kept hoping to see them again.
I think I digressed. Ok, let's try again. Moon is about Sam Bell, played by Sam Rockwell, and he is on the Moon as part of a three-year stint overseeing a Helium-3 mining expedition. Solo work. Deep solitary, if you will, complicated by a break in the com-sat making it deeper. You have three movies heavily influencing this plot, and it shows, with a fair amount of the special effects appearing to either reference, or replicate, scenes from them: Dark Star, 2001, and Silent Running. If you liked those three movies, or, say, any two of them, and if you like Sam Rockwell, you will like this movie. If either of those things are not true, you may not like this movie. If neither or those things are true, you will not like this movie.
Sam starts having a few hallucinations, one of which causes him to crash into the back of a harvester. Sam wakes up on a table and starts going through the motions of recovery, but is stuck inside of the base and cannot go out to fix the stalled harvester. He finally finds a way to get out so that he can get the harvester unstalled, and finds the crashed rover with him still inside. I cannot really go any deeper into the plot without doing damage to your expectations, but I will say that the weird psychological "what's going on?!" is played out well and even better than expected. The nature of identity, reality, perception, and causality are classic fodder for SF stories, and this one uses them, and our expectations of them. There is a long and varied history, and it can go any which way. Sit back and enjoy the ride to find out which.
I will say that in something of a change of pace, this movie actually has answers in the end. I just realized how rare that is for psychological/weird SF to do this. It can detract, sometimes, when a movie answers itself, but I think the bringing it all to light was a good choice for this film. It helped to make it feel like a testimony to the spirit of humanity, not the breakdown of humanity.
With that being said, you have two actors, a set designer, a director, and a soundtrack. The first actor is Sam Rockwell. He plays a man named Sam Bell who just happens to act like Sam Rockwell. Thumbs up on nailing that role. The other is Kevin Spacey, who does the voice of the base's robot. His voice is dead-panned and somewhat modulated, so it's not so much Kevin Spacey as something like Kevin Spacey if he was used as the prototype for voice software, but there you go. His part, GERTY-3000, is enhanced by a series of smiley faces that appear on the computer's screen. It's both creepy and endearing at the same time. You also have a wife and a daughter and some people in communication from base and such, but you see these folks for maybe three or four total minutes for the wife and maybe two or three minutes for every one else combined. You only see/hear GERTY for half or less of the film, and most of that is in conversation with Rockwell's Sam Bell. You end up with half of the movie being Bell interacting with, well, Sam Bell, and Rockwell makes that work.
The music is good, and really helps out the mood. By which I mean this is not a score that just serves up barely adequate notes but a score that works for and with the plot of the movie. The direction is good. Only in one or two scenes did the timing feel off. There has been some whining about the old school sets, looking retro in both the style and technique, but I really dug it. This is a movie reminding us that SF used to be about more than some new Arnold clone wisecracking and fighting. Besides, any movie that limits CG is awesome in my book. Much can be done without it, it's a shame how many movies rush to overuse it.
All said and done, I have no idea how long that movie was. Two hours? One hour and forty-five minutes? I never felt, outside of a righteous need to release some Cherry Coke back into the wild, like filler was being put in or that things were being stretched just because the director and writer could. I felt like the movie was just the right length to tell what it needed to tell. It does not fly by. It is a slow paced movie, part thriller and part thinker, but it is full of things and sparse of things in proper amounts.
If it makes it back for another week, I am likely to see it again. Will definitely pre-order the DVD.
I am going to award it a Great, worth my time and money.
Si Vales, Valeo
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Written by Doug Bolden
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