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Moon, 2009 – Movie Review

Posted by LiveFor on June 22, 2009

Director: Duncan Jones
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey
Running Time: 97 minutes

Another great review by Richard Bodsworth who is having a great time at the Edinburgh Film Festival.

Check out my interview with the director, Duncan Jones.

Transformers and Terminator Salvation are just two of the multi million pound budgeted blockbusters released this summer. We all love a good sci-fi film, but what the majority of the current crop neglect is a fundamental rule of filmmaking, a proper story with interesting and engaging characters. It is a well known fact that Michael Bay is more interested in blowing shit up rather than developing a character or having an intelligent plot. With his debut feature, MOON, Duncan Jones shows that a big budget isn’t everything when creating a sharp, smart and frankly brilliant film.

With the Earth’s immediate energy crisis, corporation Lunar have began extracting helium 3 from the Moon as a viable alternative. Rockwell plays Sam Bell, a lone astronaut stationed at the lunar base with only a talking computer, Gerty (Spacey) for company. His job is to oversee the helium 3 extractions. With only two weeks left of his three year tour, things take a disturbing turn when Sam finds someone else on the Moon. Is he hallucinating, or are the corporation trying to replace him? I don’t really want to go any deeper into plot details in fear of giving anything away, but what ensures is a taught psychological battle and the one man Rockwell show.

At first glance you could easily mistake Moon for a Hollywood picture. It boasts some great visual effects and features two very well know actors in Rockwell and Spacey. I was shocked to discover the film is in fact an independent British film, with a reported budget of less than 5 million dollars, and that most effects were completed using models. The set built lunar surface is a beautifully bleak landscape, its desolation helps enforce the fact Sam is all alone in lunar base Sarang.

The film pays homage to some of the classic sci-fi films of the late 60’s and 70’s, at points you could be forgiven for thinking you are in the Nostromo. The environmental theme parallels with Silent Running and most people will quickly draw a 2001 comparison with the talking computer, Gerty. Jones direction however, stops the film from falling into a simple retro rehash. His razor sharp direction keeps the film fresh and a with the help of Clint Mansell’s wonderful score, creates a eerily claustrophobic and ultimately uneasy atmosphere. Mansell is always an underrated commodity, but his scores often add that extra something as seen in his collaborations with Darren Aronofsky.

Sam Rockwell is outstanding as the astronaut slowly losing his sanity. It must be terribly difficult to be the only person on show, he is rarely off screen, but his intensity holds the audience like super glue and it is impossible to tear your eyes away. Going from bored worker, to emotional husband and father to mentally tortured, Rockwell delivers perhaps his greatest leading role. His performances in The Green Mile and The Assassination Of Jesse James amongst others have always been a personal highlight for me. Throughout all the tension he manages to give the film some breathing room with lightly comical interactions with Gerty.

For the whole 97 minutes there is not a boring moment and is paced just right. Although the plot is tight, there are points where you think you have the whole thing sussed but somehow it manages to make you doubt yourself. This is the thing I enjoyed and admired the most.

The lack of knowledge behind the Lunar corporation adds to the mystery, and if Jones continues with future films based in the Moon realm, there is vast amounts to build on. Moon is the perfect launch platform into a great sci-fi trilogy which, at the moment, the genre sorely needs. My only hope is that Jones sticks to formula that worked so well for him here, and doesn’t jeopardise his outstanding work when offered a bigger budget. I implore everyone to see this amazing piece of British cinema, you will not be disappointed.

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