The science fiction movies these days have been produced in a very lavish and spectacular way. They are delivering the thrills of interplanetary travel and uncovering new out of this planet territories. They even go a step beyond, by creating scenarios that destroy and create worlds in a matter of seconds. Space has been a frequent theme and inspiration not just in the movie industry, but also in gaming. Designers develop themes and scenarios where planets collide, spaceships fly, and stars burst in small particles like in this Starburst slot game. However, sci-fi movies don’t necessarily flourish in deep space. The best ones blossom and mature over time, somewhere between the fertile grey matter, and that’s precisely where Moon is shot.
In films like J.J Abrams’s Star Trek or series like Battlestar Galactica, outer space can seem crowded and disturbing. Moon, on the other hand, offers another alternative, presenting a vision of a life beyond Earth that emphasises claustrophobia and isolation. This is a self-conscious drama of human loneliness, directed by Duncan Jones, the son of the late pop legend David Bowie.
The plot is set in a future world that has solved its energy crisis by mining fuel from the moon. Sam Rockwell plays Sam Bell, a guy that works as a lunar station keeper. He is the single human host in this mechanised moon-mine, where he spends his 3-year timeline of duty. His only companion is the AI voice of a computer named Gerty portrayed by Kevin Spacey. His chilling and mysterious voice fits perfectly with the mood of this movie.
Sam comes to the very end of his job contract, a duty which seems that has driven him round the bend. But then, something strange starts to happen while he counts the last days in the lunar station. He has visions of a dark-haired woman that follows him around the lunar station. Even when he is driving across the gloomy moon surface in his big-wheeled truck, he can’t escape the feeling of being followed and supervised. Later, he overhears the space robot talking to the corporate controllers about a problem with the human employee.
We know Sam Rockwell as the ultimate Hollywood villain, but in Moon his character is very engaging and relatable. So engaging in fact that he may very well convince audiences that Duncan Jones’ film is a brainteaser for the sci-fi fans. He is pretty charismatic, as he holds the attention for two hours all by himself. In this film, he successfully illuminated a vulnerable and fractured personality that is both at war with itself and its own best friend. The actor proves capable of embodying all sorts of contradictory impulses as his character becomes self-aware for the situation.
If you are familiar with the genre, you can see why Jones might have decided to film this movie and fill in a gap. In that time there haven’t been a lot of films to offer a lurk of the future that does not involve aliens or mutated humans adapted to survive in space. The story in Moon represents a throwback to an earlier breed of science fiction- a psychodrama with sceptical, isolated-in-space episodes.
The form of psychodrama blossomed for a time after Stanley Kubrick demonstrated a comforting dystopia in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Think about Silent Running (1971) with Bruce Dern trying to return the normal flora on the Earth, keeping what is left of the Earth’s plant life in pressurised geodesic domes out near the rings of Saturn. There is Tarkovsky’s Solaris, when a distraught space-station crew experienced hallucinatory episodes, slowly realising that they’re being caused by the planet they’re orbiting.
The strength of Moon is also its weakness – the summons of loneliness and the vast, silent reaches of outer space. The daily routine of Sam is more than fascination – doing the same routine for three consecutive years. You feel the need for another character to show up, apart from the disloyal computer voice. However, Sam does get to talk to someone, but we won’t reveal the secret here, as you’ll probably figure out very early in the beginning.
Like many science fiction movies, Moon is a reflection on the conflict between the technological progress and feelings that can’t be tamed by utilitarian imperatives. Rockwell’s intense introspective performance gives this dreary movie a beauty that’s more than skin deep. Shot in 33 days with a $5 million budget, this is a Sundance movie in outer space. With no giant explosions, no monstrous aliens and recalling flashbacks to sci-fi classics, Moon delivers a story about a profoundly isolated man in space, living through many unpleasant circumstances. This movie asks proper stimulating questions about what it means to be human, without being cold, distant or boring. If you are for a portion of brainfood that has a perfect visual presentation, this is the movie for you.