Film Reviews, Rants and Opinions

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

DVD Review: MOON

Moon [DVD] [2009] is a 2009 Sci-Fi/Psychological Drama, the first feature film from Director Duncan Jones (Source Code). The Film stars Sam Rockwell (Iron Man 2, Choke) as Sam Bell, a man who is tasked with the job of mining for Helium-3 on the far-side of the Moon. We join Sam towards the end of his “3 year mission” to find a man on the edge of sanity: His only companion is a Robot, GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey), all contact with the people he loves on earth is via recorded video messages, he has begun hallucinating and to top it all off he’s beginning to get sick. Things take a turn for the unexpected when Sam is revived back on base following a mining accident. He discovers GERTY, his only companion, may be hiding a secret. A trip to the scene of the incident leads the story down a whole new, and unexpected route. What Sam discovers there will make him question everything he believes in.

“Moon” is a beautifully shot film. This may be Jones’ first feature, but it looks like the well-polished work of a seasoned great. You really get a feel of the great Sci-Fi films of the 70’s/early 80’s to which Jones is obviously paying homage. The look of the film owes itself (in my opinion) mainly to Ridley Scott’s classic Alien - Definitive Edition [DVD] [1979]
, with just a touch of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey [1968] [DVD]
thrown in for good measure. The base has a real “lived-in” feel, and the use of models and miniatures for the exterior scenes on the Moon’s surface was the right way to go. The design of GERTY, Sam’s Robot companion, is suitably low-tech: he looks like he belongs in a Car Manufacturing Factory. The little screen that flashes emoticons while GERTY converses is a nice touch, too.

Sam Rockwell is a joy to watch. Not many actors could single-handedly hold your attention for 98 minutes, but Rockwell is compelling. As a character actor he often finds himself in the quirky, more comedic roles, but films like this prove his brilliance as a believable, serious actor. The fact that we get to see him tackle two facets of the same character - Sam Bell in his early days on the job: brash, impatient and quick to temper, and Sam at the end of his contract: a more stoic, relaxed albeit broken man – brings dynamic to the character and allows Rockwell to really sink his teeth into the part.

Rockwell’s co-star Spacey is a perfect choice for the voice of Robot GERTY. Not many actors could bring a subtle, layered performance to such a role. GERTY is at times compassionate and friendly, yet still very robotic. There are clear undertones of 2001’s HAL and you don’t know for a while who’s side he is on.

For a film one would dub “Hard Sci-Fi” (the science is entirely plausible) I would say that “Moon” has a very human story at its heart. It takes a good look at the psychological effects of isolation, as well as the nature of individuality and companionship. This film takes you to some really deep, emotional places that most conventional dramas would struggle to do whilst still maintaining your interest. Everything about this film, from Cinematographer Gary Shaw’s choice of shots to the beautiful set design work to remind you of how alone Sam really is.

“Moon” may be a Low-Budget Indie-film from a first time Director; it may be a Hard Sci-Fi; it may be the story of a glorified Lighthouse Keeper, but it has a lot to say. It is funny how often these small Sci-Fi movies seem to really delve into the nature of morality, and have the most to say about what it is to be human.


  1. This was one of my favourite films of 2009 and I've tried to recommend it to everyone since then. Nice review! Though... a little idea, If you're gonna do DVD reviews as well as just general films like I do you might want to include a brief summary/review of the extras. Just an idea though and obviously depends on whether you have the time to watch them all.

    1. Yeah I bought it on spec when it first came to DVD because I liked the sound of it and wasn't disappointed. I had thought of reviewing the extras as well, I may do a redux to include the extras...