Skip to content

Review: Moon by DrChocolate


In the not too distant future, earth’s primary energy source, helium-3, is mined from the surface of the moon by the faceless Lunar Industries. It’s a one-man job to live on the moon and watch over the equipment and the operation. Currently, Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is on the tail end of his 3-year stint and is itching to go home to his wife and daughter. (There’s a mild spoiler ahead, but its not a guarded Sixth Sense-style spoiler, it’s the impetus to the rest of the story but feel free to stop now.) That is until the situation goes awry and he fids himself standing face-to-face with himself. Is he a clone, is he crazy, has his isolation turned him into a lunar Jack Torrance? What’s going on isn’t really that much of a mystery but the stroy still remains intriguing.

First time director Duncan Jones (who happens to be David Bowie’s kid – nope, no obvious Ziggy Stardust jokes here) works a rather familiar story (his own) into a interesting space fable that feels more 1970’s than 2000’s and that’s actually, in my opinion, really refreshing.

However, Moon is insulated. Insulated from outside elements like the lunar station where the entirety of the movie takes place. It feels distant and aloof; I was constantly reminded of the glass through which I was watching the movie. The fourth wall was painfully solid. I really wanted in, but felt like I wasn’t allowed. I was entertained and fascinated by it but never felt a part of the events. I wanted to be moved, wished to be moved, by what should have been profound, affecting events but instead I found myself curiously distant and apart.

Rockwell is impeccable and further cements himself into that cadre of underrated, underappreciated actors populated by the likes of Mark Ruffalo, Stanley Tucci and Laura Linney. Watching him debate, sympathize, and reason with himself is remarkable, so much so that I forgot it was actually one actor rather than two. Kevin Spacey’s mannered, sly voicing of onboard computer GERTY – an obvious, wry homage to HAL – is a welcome, almost amusing balance to Rockwell’s performance.

For a low-budget film, reportedly only $5 million, the film has a gritty industrial look that trumps much of what a Hollywood future looks like. The geometric station and the hulking mining trucks and diggers are mechanically and aesthetically functional rather than the now favored spacey clean and smooth. There’s no flair or wit in the designs, it all seems realistic, like the objects design only furthers the function. I found this throwback approach rather refreshing in the face of so much futurized, ipod-like gloss that populates much of the current sci-fi scene.

The film also gets bonus points for a beautiful, often haunting, piano based score that could stand alone as a nice musical piece without the need of accompanying visuals and for also having one of my favorite movie posters in a while.

It’s not wildly original, or groundbreaking and, as stated, is unfortunately emotionally distant but it’s definitely worth a viewing. Rockwell’s turn is something to see, the grimy atmosphere is arresting, and I have a feeling that Jones’ is soon going to be a rather well known name – so you can then reasonably say in your best snob accent, “I liked him before you.” Recommended but expect to remain detached.

  • Mooney

    I loved that movie and yeah, Sam Rockwell is awesome.