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Moon
Genre Sci-Fi
Year: 2009
 
Review:

Moon is the perfect blend of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Solaris, starring Sam Rockwell as Sam Bell with Kevin Spacey as the voice of GERTY. Duncan Jones, aka Zowie Bowie, writes alongside Nathan Parker and directs what will no doubt become a staple entry in the science fiction genre... and not because Ziggy Stardust is his father. Jones in his debut feature film, demonstrates his directorial ability within the confines of a limited budget as Sam Rockwell delivers a powerhouse performance.

Moon harnesses the same empty, slow-moving, deep space quiet of Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, except the scope is narrowed to a moon-base, HAL9000 is GERTY and Dr. Dave Bowman (Dullea) is replaced by Sam Bell (Rockwell). While Solaris's influence is experienced in the surreal, weightless and emotional circumstances of our astronaut protagonist as he comes to the end of a lonely, three-year stint harvesting and dispatching a resource capable of blunting Earth's energy crisis (nothing like Dune).

Essentially, Duncan Jones has created a space odyssey of his own by moving the telescope from the stars to focus on the Moon with a stronger lead performance and a more complex computer, while retaining the thought-provoking, timeless and monolithic scope of Kubrick's classic. While the telescope is focussed on the Moon, looking from the other end will narrow the focus on humanity, which is a primary undercurrent to the story of Moon and Sci-Fi in general.

Moon has also been strongly influenced by Soderbergh's vision for Solaris, a hauntingly beautiful and surreal Sci-Fi starring George Clooney. Both films have the same feel in terms of size, their understanding of alienation and the characterisation of Sam Bell in Moon and Snow in Solaris, played by Jeremy Davies. The character of Sam Bell shares the same strange love/hate relationship for his occupation as an astronaut.

Essentially, Duncan Jones has learned from other's triumphs and failures. The difference between him and other directors working within the genre, is that he has taken the best elements of two noteworthy Sci-Fi films and refined them. Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey was all director, Soderbergh's Solaris was too abstract. Jones has harmonised these inadequacies, by bringing in the talent of Sam Rockwell and tying a string back to Earth, instead of letting the balloon float into a black hole as witnessed in Solaris. The result is a contemporary Sci-Fi, which has a pointed message about resources and technology that reverberates realism and a sense of future truth.

Moon could easily be a one-man stage play if audiences were willing to use a little imagination. Sam Rockwell is the central character with Kevin Spacey's voice as supporting actor from inside GERTY, a mobile computer console with an emoticon display panel to denote its emotional state (a movie on its own). There are televised transmissions of several other characters, but its Sam Rockwell and Kevin Spacey for about 90% of the screen time.

This ambitious move would certainly destroy a film's entertainment value if it weren't for the story's regenerative ability to build upon itself (and the achievement of its influences). Jones is literally standing on the shoulders of giants, which would put him amongst the stars if it weren't for Moon's interdependent relationship with its influences. Whatever its origins, one can't help but admire the film's strengths for what they are. Its ambitious accomplishment as a film and haunting, mysterious quality leave other Sci-Fi entries in its moon dust. Moon is an excellent, well-rounded Sci-Fi... from its small budget to its monolithic message for humanity, it's a film about Earth as much as it is about the Moon.

The bottom line: Haunting.

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