Friday, January 15, 2010

Moon: Grade A

Moon (2009)
Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey (voice); Co-writer and director Duncan Jones.

This is a rare bird indeed, a sci-fi movie that is intelligent, dramatic, well-acted, beautiful to look at and thought-provoking. I think it ranks right up there with Kubrik’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Sam Rockwell is an astronaut named Sam, working for a large corporation, alone on a lunar station, remotely managing robot “harvesters” that extract some kind of fuel from the moon that is shipped to Earth in unknown ways. The harvesters look like giant agricultural combines, which is silly, but they seem pretty convincing churning over the lunar surface. You must suspend your disbelief.

Sam's three year contract is up in only two weeks and he longs to return to Earth. When one of the harvesters malfunctions, he goes out to investigate and has an accident. He wakes up back in the moonbase infirmary, tended by the omnipotent and omniscient robot, Gerty, voiced by Spacey, and clearly inspired by Kubrick’s HAL 2000 (“Open the pod bay doors, Hal”). Despite some early autocratic tendencies, we discover that Gerty is not malevolent.

Sam recovers from his accident but discovers that everything is not as it was. The consequent psychological drama is a real mind-bender, amazingly acted and photographed, and raises all sorts of interesting social and moral issues. It also makes you think about the meaning of your own life. How many movies can do that?

Music is adequate, not memorably grand as Kubrik's use of Strauss was. There are a couple of story flaws, such as the assertion that the moon base is on the dark side of the moon, which is clearly not true, due to the lunar lighting and the communications towers (which would be useless on the dark side). But aside from a few scientific errors, it is an amazing production for a low-budget independent film. A must-see for sci-fi fans

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