Of all the movies I’ve seen, even the strangest still give me something to say. It is at the rarest occasion that I am almost at a loss for words. One of these rare occasions occurred as I watched Duncan Jones’ “Moon.”
This doesn’t at all mean that “Moon” is a bad movie; it is in fact quite a good one. It is just so complex and almost non-linear that it will take a lot to explain what I just saw.
The film is a mixture of both the sci-fi and psychological thriller genres. Along with “District 9″ and “Avatar,” “Moon” proves why 2009 was the year that sci-fi made a comeback.
“Moon” is set sometime in the near future. At this point, humans have gone beyond using dirty forms of energy and have found a clean form of energy in fusion from the sun. This form of energy can only be found on the surface of the moon so the company Lunar Industries sends people to the moon to harvest it.
At the moment, the man on the moon is Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell). Sam is under a three year contract and, being the only person on the moon, faces extreme loneliness. He especially misses his wife (Dominique McElligott) and daughter. The only company he has is a robot named GERTY (Kevin Spacey). The only thing that makes GERTY seem remotely human is the little smiley face attached to him, which at times seems more intimidating than friendly.
One day, Sam is involved in a vehicle crash and wakes up to find himself in the middle of Lunar’s twisted, new experiment.
It’s going to be hard to discuss both the thematic and narrative implications of “Moon” without giving away a giant spoiler. Therefore, I will do my best to avoid revealing this huge plot point. What I will say though is that Rockwell does an amazing job dealing with this twist. I always knew he had talent, but “Moon” just proves it even further. He shows some great skill handling a character with a tendency toward both lunacy and normalcy. In the face of the very strange journey he goes on, he manages to seem as realistically perplexed as the viewer is.
Jones’ writing and directing also deserves great praise. I am always fascinated by visions of the future. Where do artists believe we are headed as a species? “Moon” definitely has some interesting things to say on that topic. While a lot of dystopian genres take the bad things of present day society and amplify them in the future, Jones does the opposite and takes the clean energy craze and turns it into something that could doom us all.
However, Jones also does tie in the topic of technology. Sam’s isolation could be a tool to show how our increasingly computerized world can be dehumanizing. In fact, the future of “Moon” seems like a time in which humans are treated more like machines that can be easily programmed and deprogrammed then like actual human beings with thoughts and emotions. The future will quite literally be dehumanizing.
“Moon” also manages to create a convincing futuristic hell through the amazing set designs. A lot of the cold, white hallways of the station were reminiscent of “2001: A Space Odyssey.” This isn’t very surprising, as that film also portrays a future where humans have been taken over by technology. Also, the utter attention and focus put on every detail of this time create a world that seems so vividly real that the viewer might almost feel a part of it. That is the true essence of a Kubrickian filmmaker.
The film also felt slightly like “Alien,” as it pits helpless crew members in space against a corporation with shady intentions. “Moon” also uses outer space the same way “Alien” did and uses it as a tool for being both trapped and extremely isolated. When you’re in space and you’re life is in danger, there aren’t many places you can turn to.
“Moon” will likely leave you feeling perplexed, and shaken up. It uses both genres it combines to compliment each other and create an extremely original and satisfying whole. It’s engaging from its very first shot and it never lets you go from there.
This is a Sci-Fi film not reliant on action but rather on character study and it reveals what the genre does best: use the extraterrestrial or technological world to reveal human nature. When you walk out of this film, you will question what it means to truly be a living, breathing, human being.