Moon, Liberty Films UK, 2009
By Bryant Francis
This summer saw plenty of big-budget sci-fi extravaganzas. Lots of giant robots, explosions, more giant robots (it was a pretty big theme). So in all the noise and grinding of metallic limbs, it’s fairly easy to let a small, quiet film like Moon slip under the radar.
Moon, directed by first-timer Duncan Jones, is about a man named Sam Bell (played by Sam Rockwell) as he is about to finish up his three-year contract serving on an isolated mining base that provides Earth with enough Helium-3 to power most of its energy needs.
There’s some real science as to how that works out, but the movie doesn’t bog you down with details. Sam just runs the computers, performs maintenance on the machines and has hallucinatory visions about a young woman around the base.
Actually the last bit isn’t surprising considering the only entity keeping him company is a computer named GERDY, voiced by Kevin Spacey. For all of you genre-savvy readers out there, he is very reminiscent of HAL of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Trouble ensues when Sam crashes a lunar rover after having one of these hallucinations and wakes up in the base infirmary only to go back out and find a clone of himself in the crashed vehicle.
This is the film’s twist. By delivering it in the first 30 minutes, Moon does something different than other movies—it examines the twist. The film follows the two Sams (both played by Rockwell, who does a great job of talking to himself) as they both try and grapple with the knowledge that at least one of them is a clone and try to out figure just what exactly is going on.
It’s these examinations, not the actual discovery of the plot points, which make Moon great. The major plot moments are presented nonchalantly, with more focus being on how Sam one and Sam two deal with the revelations, rather than the revelations themselves. There are some great moments, ranging from gut-wrenching to hilarious, as the two Sams, who actually have very different personalities, react to the new information and try to propose solutions.
There are other moments that contribute to the success of Moon. GERDY is hilarious at points, and manages to play with your expectations regarding his actions. The visual effects of the moon’s surface are stunning, and the ending doesn’t confuse you like 2001 did. Overall, Moon follows in the footsteps of Clarke and Asimov, taking a small scientific twist and examining how it affects individuals rather than having them be slaves to the twist.