Posted in Film Commentary

Review: Moon

Science Fiction has evolved quite a bit in the last sixty years or so, and Moon is a very good representation of where science fiction has been and where it is going. While the movie does not explicitly state when it takes place, Moon is a film about a man who has a three-year contract to harvest helium-3 from the moon to use for energy back on Earth. That is about as normal as this movie gets.

It is very clear that this movie takes influence from sci-fi of all sorts. T.S. Eliot once wrote an essay discussing literary tradition and how new works of literature work within that tradition, not separate from it. This film does exactly that by taking influence from movies such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and building something new out of that tradition. Moon is reminiscent of great sci-fi of the past but still feels new and exciting.

In most of my reviews, I talk about the plot and the other elements shamelessly without much regard to spoilers. However, since this is an indie film produced in the UK and there is a chance that many of you have not seen it, I will not be discussing the plot in detail. What I will say is that I felt the timeline was a little bit off. The amount of time the characters are given to make the realizations they come to, devise a plan, and execute said plan seems far too limited for the types of decisions that are made.

While I won’t say how the movie does this, I love the way the film explores the idea of what it means to be human. Is it our memories or emotions? Is it simply that we are flesh and blood? One thing that is also great about this is the movie doesn’t claim to have come up with one solid answer to this question, and it is very clear that the answer the characters come up with is simply the right answer for them. No one can pin down the exact thing that makes us human, but the movie does a great job of exploring how important it is to be treated humanely and with respect.

This is an indie film that only had a budget of $5 million. Considering that, the scenery and set designs for this film were great. The base was very well designed and helps invest the audience in the claustrophobic feeling of being stuck on the moon with nowhere to go. Once again, this film is reminiscent of sci-fi films of the past by designing the base with lots of angles and white walls. However, the natural wear and tear from Sam working and living there so long gives the base an almost abandoned feeling, like looking at pictures of Chernobyl.  While the indoor scenes feel relatively hostile, the scenes that take place on the surface of the moon are breathtaking and magical. The scenery accents the romantic idea of what it would be like to be in space while still adding to the mystery of the story.

The music also serves a huge purpose in this film, accenting the scenes with perfect subtlety. The score itself might seem repetitive to some, but that fits the idea of this film perfectly. Sam Bell has spent all of this time on the moon with no companion other than GERTY. With the same theme playing on and off throughout the film, we are immersed in Sam’s mindset. There are variations on the theme depending on severity of the situation of course, but this still helps to emphasize the monotony of being on the moon and the emotional troubles to come.

Finally, this movie would not be the gem it is without the excellent performance of Sam Rockwell. It is hard to believe that he is the same actor who played Zaphod Beeblebrox in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Guy Fleegman (or “the red shirt”) in Galaxy Quest. Sam Rockwell has come a long way from being the comic relief we’re so used to and proves in this film that he is capable of carrying a movie on his own. He is under-appreciated as an actor and deserves more credit for this role than he has gotten. Had this film gotten more publication following its release three and a half years ago, I can imagine we would have seen much more of Sam Rockwell.

Normally I end my reviews with a favorite scene, but I have good news and bad news. Bad news is there aren’t very many clips from this movie online. Good news, the entire film is on Youtube!  Feel free to watch the movie and comment if you want to discuss the plot in further detail! Enjoy your weekend, everyone!