Friday, January 29, 2010
So what the heck is going on? Is this an hallucination? Is one of these “Sams” a clone or a robot? Both Sam and the audience get the answer to these questions fairly quick. This isn’t one of those movies all about some “mind blowing” secret. It’s about the ramifications of what Sam learns, both for him personally, and in a broader sense, for all of human society. This is the sort of thoughtful and adult science fiction film that used to be commonplace in the late sixties and early seventies. Comparisons to 2001: A Space Odyssey and Silent Running seem particularly apt, but this is no mere homage. Rather Moon is a film that embodies the spirit of those films and applies it to something fresh.
I also have to give the movie kudos for using old school special effects techniques. When I was watching the movie, I thought to myself, “wow, that’s some of the best CGI I’ve ever seen. That land rover looks like it’s really there.” Well, it was really there. The film used models, and there’s a subtle feeling of tactile reality you get from using models that just isn’t there with CGI yet. Most of the moonbase was built as an actual set, as well. Everything looks so good, it’s hard to believe this movie was made for $5 million.
This is a very minimalist film. To a large degree, it’s just Sam Rockwell talking to himself. Luckily Rockwell is one of the best actors working these days, and he’s more than up to the challenge of carrying the film. That said, Spacey does a great job as the voice of GERTY, recalling HAL9000 while at the same time presenting a different take on artificial intelligence.
I have to applaud the vision of writer/director Duncan Jones. Moon is smart, relevant, and gripping, with the science fiction elements always subservient to story and theme. There are no action scenes or moments of artificial drama, but the film is never for a second dull. This is just a great story told well, and easily one of the best movies of 2009. Sadly I’m just now seeing it, but it would have landed somewhere in my top 5 for sure. 4 out of 4 stars.