When it comes to sci-fi movies, big isn’t always necessarily better, and Moon is a great example of this. Costing a tiny (in movie terms) 5 million to make, it makes your brain, rather than your eyes do the work, concentrating on the narrative rather than flashy over the top special effects to sell the film. Moon has far more in common with the great distopian sci-fis of the early 70s (Silent Running, Soylent Green) than the modern sci-fi blockbuster.
Moon opens on Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), an astronaut coming to the end of his 3 year contract maintaining a lunar mining facility for Lunar Industries. His only company is the station’s on-board computer/robot GERTY (voiced brilliantly by Kevin Spacey), and the occasional message from his wife back on Earth. Whilst out checking one of the giant energy harvesters, a freak accident occurs, trapping Sam in the lunar rover. Sam wakes up back in the base being cared for by GERTY, apparently recovering from the crash. Despite having been ordered to rest up, Sam convinces GERTY to let him outside, where he heads out to the site of the crash, only to discover what appears to be himself, injured but alive, still inside the lunar rover…
Sam Rockwell’s performance as both version’s of Sam Bell is an extraordinary piece of work. Although Rockwell does have some experience with sci-fi (Hitchhiker’s Guide, Galaxy Quest), this is about as far from those comedy ensemble pieces as you can get. All most all of the screen time is Rockwell either on his own, acting against GERTY, or another version of himself. Not once did I feel the interactions between the 2 versions of Bell were unconvincing or unrealistic. It really is a flawless and Oscar-worthy performance.
Spacey also pitches the vocal performance of GERTY with a wonderfully eerie stillness of tone, with only the digitised smile emoticon on the computer’s interface giving you any hint as to whether you should trust GERTY, or be reaching for it’s off switch.
Moon is the debut feature from director Duncan Jones (son of David Bowie… i’m avoiding Space Oddity jokes), and he certainly makes a great first impression. Moon is a far more cerebral outing that most modern sci-fi, but is in no way worse off for it. Jones has proved he’s a director to watch out for over the next few years.
Moon is out on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK on November 16, 2009
For more info on Moon, visit the website here.