I have watched it now. I feel like I can sit relaxed with the rest of you now. It has taken a fair while to view this impressive film, and if there is blame to be aimed, I think it goes to the marketing and advertising for the film. But then how else could it be sold to us?
MOON was a small and modest debut movie from Duncan Jones, who more recently directed another great film called Source Code which had a very tense time-travel theme. This first feature certainly stood apart from other science fiction films on release, as it is a very quiet, scaled down situation and reasonably small budget movie.
I do know most classic science fiction movies, and personally I could watch some repeatedly for days on end such as two of my favorites-Stanley Kubrick’s 2001:A Space Odyssey and the lesser known cult film Silent Running. These are two films which have huge influence upon MOON. Duncan Jones knew this and I am sure did not at all try to hide this at all, and the film pays recognisable homage to these classics.
The film started off with a sudden quick intro montage, which sets the back story and explains how the main character Sam, is working on the Moon. From there it soon goes on to show us this lonely man, content with his quiet work but revealing increasing signs of nervous paranoia. This far in, it sadly begins to look like just yet another well crafted tribute to Kubrick’s 2001. If you have never seen that film-go and watch it this minute okay-then at this point, MOON is probably very interesting and will keep you watching. But knowing the sci-fi classic 2001, I did need much more in this set up to stop me from switching off early.
Well, thankfully Jones chose the suitably skilled actor Sam Rockwell to play the lead role, who is almost the only character we see on screen for the majority of the movie-well, the only actor mostly. It most certainly is Rockwell who carries this film along, and for one actor it is definitely one of the most impressive and captivating performances that I have witnessed in a long while.
I had not personally been a huge fan of his from other roles that he had played in films previously, but in this movie it is probably his most suitable and fine played performance in his career so far.
Other than bringing to mind the epic visions in space of 2001 and the quiet rebellious nature of Silent Running, MOON also shares many similarities to the Solaris films. Most notably from early on, we see Sam alone on his lunar station base, but he does maintain an artificial relationship with his computer Gertie. The director Jones knows that it would be almost impossible to escape comparison to 2001’s Hal, so we simply go ahead with this similar calm-voiced computer (voiced by Kevin Spacey).
Then like Solaris, soon enough the film reveals and inspects the pressure put upon lone characters left out in space, with the continued irregularities and depression growing in and around Sam.
Already, even with the danger of the film becoming just another sci-fi copy, Rockwell holds us watching until soon enough a finely original and engaging narrative comes to us.
It is one of the more very existential, thoughtful and philosophical science fiction movies but do not let that make you turn away. It does have some very outstanding visual imagery around a future Moon, and from the start is directed very well visually.
It is not as vaguely cryptic as 2001 or simply as casual as Silent Running, and probably is the more emotionally engaging and touching of all three movies. This is a tragic tale, but comes to pull together a rewarding conclusion, in another way similar to the Danny Boyle film Sunshine, where we see how Earth continues on however it can even beyond future space exploration.
After a couple of years of negatively assuming Moon to be far too close to 2001 in existential deep sci-fi posturing, I have seen an original movie which was worth the wait and one that I now, like many others, highly recommend to be seen.