Thursday, November 19, 2009

Moon: Good Old-fashioned Sci-fi


Moon is a sci-fi film that doesn’t rely on spectacular computer graphic action and aliens for its impact. It’s an entertaining and thought provoking experience.

In a near future, our energy problems have been solved. Earth uses non-polluting fusion reactors powered by Helium-3 mined on the moon. Sam Bell is the sole worker for Lunar Industries on the dark side of the moon. As he nears the end of his 3-year contract, things start to warp badly around him.

He has been out of direct live contact and has to rely on recorded messages. His only companion has been the computer system GERTY, voiced by Kevin Spacey, a less sinister version of HAL 9000. It is torn between its role of helping him and its instructions from the company.

Director/writer Duncan Jones has created a film with attitude. It’s an old fashioned movie in many ways, which may help to explain some critic’s negativity. The sets have the look and feeling of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Alien. Model miniatures with CG effects layered on top were used to create this engaging atmosphere.

The pace glides along. There is no video game speed here. Moon is as much about the human condition as it is about technology. Jones is clearly a Ridley Scott fan but rather than Blade Runner’s replicants he uses a more realistic scientific twist to explore what it means to be human.

It took only 33 days to shoot but it’s not a complex story and its minuscule cast hardly needed coordination. Sam Rockwell as his namesake protagonist puts in a first class performance.

Some of the plot is a bit hard to accept. For instance Lunar Industries have spent an extraordinary amount of money on their deception. It’s hard to figure out the cost/benefit.

At the end we hear a radio broadcast from earth complete with a shock-jock airing familiar populist prejudices. It’s a nasty way to bring us back to earth. I really enjoyed the trip.
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