starring Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey (voice)
written by Duncan Jones & Nathan Parker
directed by Duncan Jones
release: 10 July 2009 (wide)
Sony Pictures Classics, 97 mins., Rated R
Pretty Frakkin' Good
There's little little indie production called Moon that has been making its rounds at theaters the last month, and has got quite a lot of attention and praise from critics and audiences alike. It being a science fiction tale, which automatically interests me, and it receiving plenty of thumbs up, I decided to check out the trailer. Looks awesome. Looks confusing. So very excitedly, went to my local Carmike Stadium 20 (the only theater outside Minneapolis that has the film), bought my ticket, and enjoyed a hour and a half intimate human sci-fi story that left me craving more. Exiting out a viewing of Moon at your local multiplex, I would imagine ones thoughts would be similar to mind (at least hopefully):
1) Sam Rockwell gave frakkin' fantastic performances, all two characters
2) That was pretty neat
3) Pretty cool story, and holy cow wasn't Clint Mansell's score AWESOME?
Nearing the end of his three-year contract with Lunar Industries, Sam Bell (Rockwell) is as giddy as a Star Wars geek meeting Princess Leia to get back home. Stationed on the moon to collect helium-3, a fuel source for the earth, Sam's home sick, and time can't go fast enough. His sole company is GERTY, a intelligent computer whose function is to service Sam and his everyday needs. On yet another particularly uneventful day, Sam suffers an accident on one of his harvesters, and wakes up the next day in the infirmary healed, clean, and rested. Despite GERTY's wishes, Sam makes an trip to the broken down harvester, and finds himself still laying there. Understandably shocked and completely flabbergasted, Sam brings the other Sam back with him. Who is he? Is he real? Is Sam losing his mind? What the frak is going on? Now more than ever, Sam's desperate to leave, but the arrival of a rescue crew with ulterior motives in mind may sorta impede that plan...
The trailer looked complicated, making it seem like this was one of those sci-fi pieces that you had to pay attention to every little tiny detail because it's signifcant to understanding the story and perhaps figuring out the 'twists' a little early. Turns out Moon isn't all that complicated, not reaching convoluted heights of incomprehensible complexity. Not saying that's a bad thing, just a nice surprise. In fact, the script is very well written, with very real, very intense emotional and psychological drama with the character(s) of Sam Bell and his dilemma.
As nearly the only actor in the films entirety, Sam Rockwell gives his career performance as Sam Bell and Sam Bell, respectively. Rockwell, for me, has always been 'that one guy', the dude you point out to your friend and say, 'It's that one guy from [insert movie title]'. I associate him with Charlie's Angels, which I'm so very sure he would appreciate, where he just played an damn awesome villain. Last year, though, he seemed bored out of his mind in Choke, though I can't imagine why since he gets to snog plenty of very attractive women. As a guy who hasn't seen all his movies, I'm just saying right now that this is his best performance that I've seen.
Disoriented from an accident, maybe perhaps losing his mind from three years of isolation on the moon and the arrival of a second Sam Bell, Rockwell is on fire! I honestly can't give this performance enough kudos. (Spoiler follows) Towards the last forty minutes of the movie, one of the Sam Bells is deteriorating, and watching this happen is absolutely heartbreaking, truly the Rockwell's bright shiny moment in the picture. (End spoiler) The difference in demeanor and personality of both Sam Bell's is perfectly defined, leaving no 'what one's which?' dilemmas or complications. Again, Rockwell kicks ass.
It's a fantastic story about Sam asking himself, who and what am I? Not only is it an intersting story, but the amazing performance of Rockwell's keeps ones eyes glued to the screen, unwavering because he is just so damn impactful and the screen is so tight and perfectly crafted. As both Sams do everything they can think of to find out the answers to their questions, I half didn't want them to find out because I cared and I didn't want their worlds to be turned upside down (well, worse than they already were by this point).
And what review of Moon would be complete without talking about GERTY, voiced by the always great Kevin Spacey (Superman Returns)? GERTY the robot is Sam's only companion for the duration of his three year contract, and I personally would love this computers company. Speaking in a cool, human voice instead of robot soundy, GERTY also has a small viewscreen that consists of multiple emoticons that signal his 'mood', from sadness to happy! I'm extremely glad that writer/director Jones didn't do a 2001 and make GERTY a evil robot hellbent on keeping the truth of Lunar Industries from Sam, but instead actually helped him. One can't help but love that little robot.
Oh, and as mentioned above, Clint Mansell (The Fountain) composes a FANTASTIC score, and I easily recommend anyone to purchase or download the soundtrack immediately. Of particular note, if you wish to download only one track, I recommend the last 10-minute suite 'Welcome to Lunar Industries.' Brilliant, brilliant work, and easily one of my favorite compositions of 2009 yet.
Mainly probably due to the small $5 million budget - well, small in Hollywood terms - Moon utilizes minatures and painted backgrounds, etc., etc. Basically, old school techniques pretty much abandoned in this day of age where CGI is as abundant as real actors. It was very refreshing seeing this old-school technique brought back to the big screen, and to such staggeringly spectacular results.
Taking a look over Wikipedia's page on the movie, there's apparently talk about a "Moon Trilogy", with Rockwell possibly giving a cameo in the second installment. Well, Mr. Jones, you have my complete unasked for blessings to proceed, because I super duper really want to find out what's next in this story. It's interesting, absolutely engaging, and quite clever. Give us more! Give us more! So, yes, I know I'm quite subtle about it, but I liked Moon, and I can't recommend it enough. It's something different from the usual summer fare (yes, I know it wasn't designed as a summer release), deep and thoughtful, beautiful to look at and the time runs by, don't miss Moon.