Sunday, March 20, 2011

Canon Movie Review: Moon

In honor of tonight's 'super moon', and because my brother has been asking me to watch this movie for months, I decided to watch the 2009 film Moon. Directed by first-time director Duncan James, Moon stars Sam Rockwell, Robin Chalk, Kaya Scodelario, and Kevin Spacey as the voice of GERTY. In the movie, Rockwell plays Sam Bell, an astronaut working for an energy company on the moon to help harvest helium-3 for use on Earth. Bell's only contact on the station is with a supercomputer called GERTY, and as such he leads an existence of near solitude. But things are looking up for Bell, as the end of his three year stint is coming soon, and Bell looks forward to reuniting with his family on Earth. However, a crash in a lunar car complicates things, and Bell is left to wonder whether he will ever return to Earth. A few notes about this film, and there probably will be SPOILERS, so read carefully.

- From the start of the film, you can tell that Jones was greatly inspired by Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. For one thing, both films are set on the moon, with space stations that look somewhat similar to each other. Also, the sense of loneliness in space is a theme explored in both movies. But the most obvious similarity is that both films have a super computer running the space station, as GERTY is quite similar to 2001's HAL 9000. In interviews after the film, Jones admits that he was greatly inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey (and other films). Also, Jones's father was inspired in his musical career by the same film. Jones's father, by the way, is David Bowie.

- GERTY, voiced by Spacey, is not just a simple HAL 9000 clone. True, the computer has a giant glowing light (blue in GERTY's case, compared to the red light in HAL 9000), but GERTY also comes with a smiley face emoticon screen that can mimic emotions based on how Sam is feeling at the moment. At one point, GERTY even sheds an imaginary tear. More importantly, whereas HAL became self aware and started doing things to serve it's own purposes, GERTY remains completely loyal to Sam throughout the movie, even if its action hurts the company that designed him. A question for those that have seen this movie: Do we ever find out what GERTY stands for? I mean, I just watched the film, then tried to look it up on the internet, but I've come up empty. How peculiar.

- With only eight actors in the entire film, and every other actor either only supplying a voice or on the screen for less than two minutes, this is a vehicle entirely driven by the acting skill of Sam Rockwell. Whereas some actors may take a role like this and drive the movie off a cliff, Rockwell not only stays on the road, but he also wins the big race with his performance here (enough driving references for you?). Rockwell is given a challenging role, with little or no on-screen help, and excels at it. Rockwell's so good in this film that it makes me wonder just how in the world he didn't get at least a Best Actor nomination from the Academy in 2009. I mean, surely Rockwell did better in this film than Morgan Freeman in Invictus or George Clooney in Up In The Air? Besides, they already have their Oscars.

- Despite a budget of only $5 million, Jones and his special effects crew did a fantastic job of showing their vision of a moon populated by an energy plant. Jones and crew are able to create a setting that looks both futuristic and realistic, and use the blank surfaces of the moon and the empty feeling of the space station to add tension to the film. As for the plot, Jones and writer Nathan Parker come up with a story that is kind of hard to follow at the beginning, but ultimately starts to make sense towards the middle of the film. However, there are a couple of plot holes that I found somewhat unexplained, which I won't discuss here because I don't want to spoil the film too much.

- Here's another question for people that have seen this movie: Is it just me, or did anybody else find the ending to be a bit rushed and anticlimactic? Personally, I was kind of interested in what would happen after the climatic event, but other than a few voices gabbing, we don't really get a whole lot of answers. Also, did anyone else find that song that they kept using in every major scene a bit annoying? I know I started to get tired of it after the seventh time I heard it.

Overall, Moon's not the perfect movie, but it is a movie definitely worth seeing. Jones did a heck of a job as director, especially considering this was his first feature film, and Rockwell gives the best performance of his career as Sam Bell. Overall, I'd give Moon a 7.95 out of 10. Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any thoughts about this review, or ideas for a future review, then please feel free to share those thoughts either by leaving a comment or by sending me an e-mail at

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