200 of 215 people found the following review helpful
It was easy to dismiss Moon as a 2001: A Space Odyssey clone based on the trailers, claustrophobic space station setting and the HAL 9000-like robot assistant (GERTY). It is a surprisingly fun space mystery and I'm glad I was wrong. The film opens with a commercial from Lunar Industries, promising a safe, dependable, and clean energy source from the moon. Then it cuts right to the lunar surface where astronaut/miner Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is preparing a cargo of helium for launch back to Earth.
With 2 weeks left of his contract, he is more than ready to go home. Living in isolation on the dark side of the moon for the past 3 years, with the satellite dish down, his only link with Earth are company transmissions, delayed TV feeds of sporting events, and the occasional pre-recorded video relay from his wife. With not another living soul on the moon, Sam occupies himself by talking to his plants, carving a miniature model of his town, and talking to GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey). Sam thinks he's going insane from the psychological stress of isolation and starts seeing things. He scalds his hand on boiling water and later causes a serious crash with his rover, knocking out one of the giant combine harvesters. This is where the real mystery begins, as Sam discovers that he is not alone. I won't spoil the surprise, but what follows is an entertaining and suspenseful experience.
GERTY's monotone diction, calm demeanor, and design are unmistakably inspired by HAL 9000, a perhaps deliberate decision by the filmmakers to heighten the sense of mystery and play on our preconceived notions of the sci-fi genre built up by other films. He also has a camera "eye" like HAL, and we've also seen the maniacal ship's AI Otto from Wall-E. We don't know if GERTY's pleasantly warm voice and smiley face LCD display means he is genuinely helpful or if he's concealing a secret agenda. Director Duncan Jones is using our expectations against us, and this is part of the fun of unraveling the drama of Moon.
The film draws influences from other films like Blade Runner,Aliens, and of course, 2001 (whose vision of the future is clean and white interiors with bright lights) and Silent Running. With a 90 min runtime, the film is short. Made on a tiny budget (by today's standards) of $5 million, it is carried by the remarkable performance of Rockwell whose shows many sides of the Sam character. Interiors are very convincingly designed, with some lunar surface shots and CG that are perhaps a bit too heavy on lens flare. Except one instance of backal nudity (unfortunately, it's from Rockwell and not the lovely Dominique McElligott), a scene of nasty vomiting and a fist-fight, nothing too graphic is shown. The ending could've used maybe 3-5 minutes more of exposition as it did feel a bit rushed, but don't let me dissuade you from watching this wonderful film. A totally worthwhile way to spend movie night. 4.5/5
101 of 117 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 2009
If you are fortunate enough to live in a city where this movie is playing, I highly advise that you go see it. Despite falling under the category of science-fiction, Moon is not a movie where you have to be a science-fiction buff to appreciate its many virtues. In fact, it might be more accurate to describe Moon as a drama. The drama in this case is to be found within oneself, as Moon is pretty much a one man show.
The movie begins with a commercial for Lunar Industries, a company that has found alternative energy sources on the moon. True to the nature of any corporation, costs are apparently kept to a minimum by having only a single human being on their moon base to oversee the extraction of Helium 3 -- the precious alternative energy source. Consequently, Sam Bell is that sole employee who is serving out his 3 year contract on the moon. Stationed with him on this moon base is a computer with an emoticon personality named Gherty 3000. Other than, he has only himself for company. In the final stretch of his contract Sam slips into despair and falls prey to his own hallucinations. Moon is a survival story. The drama, however, is not in Sam's fight for physical survival or even mental survival. His battle is an emotional one. His memories of earth and loved ones waiting for him are the raw materials for his survival -- but may also be the wellsprings for his rapid slip into despair.
Artistically, Moon pays its greatest homage to Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. The Gherty 3000 is an obvious nod to the Hal 9000 in both its name and in the ominous voice that is provided by Kevin Spacey. Even the design of the computer interface and its typography is a revival of Kubrick's vision of the Discovery One ship. Unlike 2001, which remained mostly silent and stoic throughout, Moon is full of emotional inflections that curve our perception of both Sam and Gherty. Isolation has its quirky side with Moon. Space movies often evoke the question, "Are we alone in this universe?" Moon truncates that question to this: "Are we alone?"
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Once in a while, and more frequently in this genre than most others it seems; a film comes along with a very modest budget (in this case $5M), a limited cast, and a whole lot of heart. In the case of Moon, director Duncan Jones continues on in the tradition of works like Danny Boyle's Sunshine or perhaps even more appropriately, Neil Blomkamp's District 9. However, its inclusion in the oft-suspect category of independent science fiction entertainment is by no means synonymous with cheesy rubber masks, shoddy sets, or below par CGI; in fact quite contraire. Moon manages to accomplish a surprising deal of well-written plot structure and melds it with consistent, appropriate and believable visuals (whether special effect shots or otherwise). Amidst the current trend of bloated CG-overloaded "blockbusters" that attempt to make up for their lack of substance with flashy visuals, Moon is a refreshing diversion to say the least.
The tale centers on Sam Bell, the only man living on the moon in an undisclosed future date (but based on the technology, certainly the foreseeable future), who is nearing the conclusion of a three-year contract to work for Lunar Industries.
As the lone employee stationed at their lunar facility, Sam's primary job responsibility is to harvest and periodically ship (via rocket) to Earth supplies of helium-3; the clean and apparently extremely abundant fuel source used by future society.
In addition to the loneliness Sam experiences in complete isolation, there apparently is no direct communication link available between the lunar station and Earth. Fortunately he does experience a good deal of daily interaction with GERTY; an artificially intelligent computer/ robot that tends to his daily needs (voiced brilliantly by Kevin Spacey).
While the viewer is treated to a heartfelt demonstration of Sam's almost singular desire to complete his contract and return to Earth to be with his wife Tess and their infant daughter Eve, things start to get very interesting when with only two weeks to go, he gets into a rover accident at one of the mechanical harvesters and is rendered unconscious.
To continue on with the plot summation would not only provide critical spoilers (something I despise personally and make a practice of avoiding in my critiques) but it would also jeopardize some of the most spectacular moments of the prose whereby the viewer, through the bewilderment of the lead character, discovers that all is not as it initially appears.
What is revealed as the layers of mystery are rolled back like the skin of so many proverbial onions is actually a subliminally sad account of the cruelty of the human mind and the frailty of the human body. And while there is undeniable hope to be found in the tale's conclusion, it comes with the bittersweet lacing of the would ifs, could ifs and what-nows that are left for the viewer to ponder once the credits roll. This fact alone is nearly a guarantee that the film will continue popping up in your thoughts for days, maybe even weeks after viewing. In fact I'm thoroughly convinced that this is one of those rare pieces that, like a fine wine, requires a lengthy period of digestion (processing) to fully appreciate.
Sam Rockwell's performance of lead character Sam Bell is remarkable upon first impression and perhaps even more so upon examination of the unique capture process in the film's "making of" documentaries.
Speaking of, the single disc DVD boasts a surprisingly robust extra-feature set including two full-length commentary tracks (one with Writer/Director Duncan Jones, Director of Photography Gary Shaw, Concept Designer Gavin Rothery and Production Designer Tony Noble and the second with Writer/Director Duncan Jones again and Producer Stuart Fenegan), "Whistle" a Short Film by Duncan Jones, The Making of Moon, Creating the Visual Effects, Science Center Q&A with Director Duncan Jones, a Filmmaker's Q&A at the Sundance Film Festival, and like a whole lot of Sony trailers.
About the biggest complaint I've encountered surrounding the project would have to be gripes that the prose isn't action-packed, particularly comedic, or even that the pacing is a bit tedious. While I cannot dispute all such claims, I can assure that the cleverness of the script is solid enough to command even the most restless viewer's curiosity. Coming in at a runtime of 97-minutes, there is no fluff or unnecessary plotting to cloud the potency of the tale.
In all it is very easy to recommend this piece of independent science fiction as it represents the culmination of all that is wrong with big budget filmmaking these days by contrast. The fact that Sony Classics was wise enough to recognize this reality is hopeful of things to come in and of itself. Duncan Jones deserves credit on having written and directed a wonderfully entertaining motion picture that will, hopefully be only the first of many such future developments.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
"Moon" stars Sam Rockwell as Sam Bell, an employee of a moon-based energy company called Lunar. Sam lives in an isolated base that controls three massive "harvesters," which travel across the surface of the moon to collect rocks containing Helium-3. His only companion is a large robot named Gerty (voiced by Kevin Spacey) who looks like a copy machine suspended from the ceiling. Gerty also has a screen that displays emoticons to express his feelings. With his three-year contract nearly up, Sam is preparing to return to earth and the loving arms of his wife and new-born daughter, both of whom we see in video calls. However, Sam has an accident while trying to attend to one of the harvesters, and he wakes up confused in the infirmary. Gerty tells him that he was unconscious for only a short time; however, Gerty is acting rather oddly (his emoticon's eyes do that darting back forth thing that cartoon characters do when they lie). Is he lying?
First time director Duncan Jones (AKA Zowie Bowie - the son of David Bowie) helmed this indie sci-fi flick with a meager $5 million dollar budget, or roughly the amount "Avatar" spent on bagels for the craft services table. Nevertheless, the film's look and effects are quite believable. Scenes on the moon were filmed with models overlayed with CGI, which gives them a fairly realistic look. Written by Jones with Nathan Parker, The plot has some predictable elements (a meddling evil company, a lying robot). However, the story manages to hold some surprises and intelligently explores Rockwell's predicament. To borrow a line from his father's first hit single, Jones "really made the grade" with his debut.
Jones wrote the movie for Sam Rockwell. I'm not a fan of Rockwell's work but he definitely brings something different to the role as a twitchy astronaut who (to borrow from another song) finds that "it's lonely out in space." [Actually, now that I think about it, Elton John's "Rocket Man" is much better description of "Moon" than is "Space Oddity."] One of my favorite parts of sci-fi films is the robots, and I loved Gerty and his emoticon face. Spacey's vocals strike the perfect balance between a human-sounding robot and still sounding vaguely ominous (apparently his vocals were altered slightly). Another major strength is the haunting score by Clint Mansell, which manages to highlight and elevate key scenes without being the least bit intrusive. I enjoyed "Moon" and was happy to read that Jones is planning a follow-up of sorts called "Mute," which will explore another story set in this timeline.
The DVD is packed with extras including two commentaries with the director (one with the writer/producer and another with members of the technical crew) and several behind the scenes making of flicks.
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2009
I have seen a lot of movies this year and "Moon" is one of the few that I truly and thoroughly enjoyed. I don't even know where to begin with my praise. It is hard for me to believe that this movie was made on the meagre budget of only 5 million Dollars! Most Hollywood directors would have a laughing fit and say it is impossible to make a movie with pocket money like that, but "Moon" doesn't look cheap. Not one bit. It is a very sleek movie. The SFX are not used to dazzle but to enhance the look and turn the already wonderful set of a lunar base into something that really sits on the moon. It is re-freshing to have a SciFi movie in which the SFX take a back seat. The score by Clint Mansell is a beautiful understated affair that fits perfectly to the tone of the overall story. No. This movie is not cheap. It is elegant and Duncan Jones and the whole production team need to be congratulated for this amazing achievement!
For Sam Rockwell the movie is a tour de force. This is a one man show and it could have gone all horribly wrong with a less talented actor, but his acting just blew me away. I am hoping against hope that this movie will have a wider release. So far it has been only shown on various film festivals like the Viennale, Sundance or Tribeca and only had a wider release in the UK. I really do not want to see this movie to become an insider like "The Fall". It really deserves recognition. It doesn't happen very often, that a movie this good comes along and Sam Rockwell and Duncan Jones should receive at least some awards. I will cross my fingers.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2010
Here is an intelligent sci-fi movie which will lead you to ask questions about certain areas of morality and existence. It includes a couple of main plot twists which occupy the majority of the movie. The appeal of this movie isn't the special effects or cinematography like many sci-fi movies (although both are perfectly adequate), but the characterization and emotional turmoil of the main character, Sam Bell.
For the past 3 years Sam has been alone at a station on the moon where they supply a significant portion of the Earth's clean energy. It's a worthy cause, although you eventually question the goodness of the company running the operation. Sam's only companionship is Gerty, a computer which helps him run the station. Does Gerty have Sam's interests and well-being in mind or not? While Gerty is reminiscent of HAL from "2001: A Space Odyssey", don't think for a moment this movie is just a rehash of it.
Sam's only contact with Earth comes from exchanging videos because the live connection is down. Through these, Sam keeps in touch with the company and with his wife and young daughter. Living alone and away from his family has clearly been taking a toll on Sam's mental and physical condition. He admits to talking to himself and tries to find things to occupy himself, but he doesn't seem to dislike or fault the job itself. Thankfully, he is scheduled to be replaced in a couple weeks. However, everything changes after he gets into an accident, crashing his lunar rover into one of the devices helping drive the energy development. Soon after waking up in sick bay, he is driven to return to the crash site, against the wishes of the company as enforced by Gerty. Everything Sam knows changes after he revisits the crash site.
Sam Rockwell gives a great performance as Sam, one of the best of 2009 despite not getting any awards recognition. Kevin Spacey is a good fit for the voice of Gerty, and the smiley faces used to convey the computer's moods are sometimes comical. This movie excels most because of the writing and directing of Duncan Jones (David Bowie's son). I hope to see more from Jones in the future.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2010
There's always a danger when you find a movie that you just LOVED - the natural inclination is to go out and want to share it with everyone. MOON is an usual film in that it will probably hit the viewer in one of two ways. If someone stumbles on it and watches it free of distractions (and likes their movies challenging) it may strike you (as it did me) as an incredibly emotional, tricky and original film experience. However, if someone reads TOO much about it in advance and watches it out of 'obligation' to a fan, they may have the reverse experience. MOON is a subtle, emotional and intelligent film, filled with tiny moments that may give you chills as you also scratch your head and even question what your eyes just witnessed. If you stick with it, you're likely to find it a rewarding, sad but heartening story that raises some interesting notions about man's place in the universe. Part optical illusion, part waking nightmare but always warm and involving, the core of the film is the story of a man struggling with his mortality. Sam Rockwell gives an Oscar-worthy performance (SHAME on the academy for ignoring him this year!)as intelligent and sympathetic as anything I've seen in years. And don't be turned off by MOON'S comparison's to 2001 (in case you're not a fan of the Kubrick film) - it may be similar in design or 'tone', but this film is as personal as any 'earthbound' tale you're likely to view. I now add MOON to my list of favorite all-time films - sharing my list with features like Robert Altman's 'MASH' and 'Long Goodbye', Robert Duvall's 'Tender Mercies', George Romero's 'Dawn of the Dead' (78) and Terrence Hill's 'My Name is Nobody'.) How's THAT for variety?
...and THANK YOU, Sam.
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Moon is probably the best "true" science fiction movie to come into theaters in many years. What do I mean by true? Well the science fiction genre has many facets to it. You have the space opera (Star Wars, Fifth Element, etc), the stellar exploration (2001, Destination Moon, etc), the monster movie (Cloverfield, Alien, etc), cyber punk (The Matrix, Ghost in the Shell), and a few other categories that all make up the sci-fi genre. What many fans call a true science fiction is one where the story moves beyond the confines of a futuristic setting or technology. When a science fiction concept is placed in a situation that really gets you thinking is that these fans are hungry for, and Moon is the perfect meal for what they crave.
Moon is not an action film so don't expect Bruckheimer-esque explosions or flashing guns. Moon is a drama at the highest sense of the word. The unfolding story is dramatic. Dramatic in a what they can really mess with your head if you really stop and think about it. Moon is about a single man working in a mining facility on (of course) the moon. Just when he is about to finish his three year assignment everything he knew falls horribly out of control. There is of course a plot twist that brings this about, but the masterful way director Duncan Jones presents it makes the twist itself less surprising than the implications that it represents. We are talking a major screwing around with your thoughts and emotions. I don't want to ruin it for you and I really recommend you NOT to try and find out before you see the movie. It really will spoil the effect for you.
Speaking of effect the movie has a top notch production on both sets and special effects. Moon's budget is reported to be a minuscule $5 million, however the movie looks like it was made with ten times that amount. The sets are very convincing and make you believe there can actually be a moon facility. The style is very much like Stanley Kubrick's 2001 or the first two Alien movies. Absolutely no computer generated special effects are in this film. The sets are really built. The moon and the buildings/vehicles on it are actual models. So much is done with practical techniques and the results are more impressive than many CG-heavy films made today. In other words eye candy.
There is essentially one actor in the movie and that's Sam Rockwell. Playing the character that has, oh lets say 99.9% of the screen time, Sam has to really carry the movie all on his own. This he does with gusto. Rockwell makes this movie just as much as the impressive sets and excellent script. You also get Kevin Spacey's voice as the station's computer, GERTY. You can think 2001's HAL with a bit more personality and charm.
This movie has such a wonderful combination of style and substance. Add to that the fact it's an independent film made with a budget that wouldn't even pay for an A-list actor. If this underdog story can get any more endearing I have no idea how. Moon made it's money in worldwide box office sales and never was shown in much more than 250 theaters. So odds are you may have missed this film's theatrical release altogether. Now you have a perfect opportunity to see this amazing film for yourself. Here are the extras on the Blu-Ray:
- 1080p 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- English, Italian and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
- English, Italian, Spanish and Hindu subtitles
- Two commentaries with Director Duncan Jones on other production staff members
- "Whistle" a short sci-fi film made by Duncan Jones back in 2000. It's a rather cool concept about a high tech assassin, but the story is also a bit disturbing as well as predictable. Masterfully executed by the way.
- Documentary "The Making of Moon" has a good deal of interviews with Duncan Jones on how the movie came to be and what his influences were. From this feature and the Q&A's it seems the biggest influences are Silent Running, Outland and Alien (in pretty much that order). Serious sci-fi fans should be able to pick out those influences easy enough from the film.
- Documentary "Creating the Visual Effects" delves into not only the digital and CG effects, but also the practical effects like models and forced perspective. I was surprised to see what was computer generated.
- Featurette "How Did They Do That: Cloning Sam" touches on how they got the two Sam's together on film interacting with each other. Some of it is the technical aspect, but the fun stuff is hearing about how Sam Rockwell dealt with acting against 'himself' when he won't see it until post production.
- Science Center Q&A with Director Duncan Jones is a little speed with questions answered before an audience within the scientific community. Not really any science questions came out, but still very interesting.
- Filmmaker's Q&A at the Sundance Film Festival is a pre and post speech from Moon's Sundance appearance along with question and answers after. A little better than the previous Q&A.
- Concept Art Library
If you are a science fiction fan, a true science fiction fan, then you absolutely must see this movie. Trust me. It's right up there with Blade Runner, 2001, Gattaca and other great sci-fi dramas. If you like dramas I think you should check this movie out too, and don't be afraid of the fact it's in outer space. The story that you get from this "space" movie will be far greater than you reluctance to trust in a good sci-fi drama. For the rest of you if you love a good story that will make you think and don't mind it not being your standard popcorn movie I say give it a shot. You won't be sorry.
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
That's right ladies and gentlemen. The deservedly critically acclaimed low-budget/high quality science fiction film will be released on DVD in Great Britain in November and in the U.S.A in January. Here's what the British release has announced for the DVD:
- 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- English Dolby Digital 5.1
- English and Hindu subtitles
- Two commentaries with Director Duncan Jones on other production staff members
- "Whistle" a short sci-fi film made by Duncan Jones back in 2000.
- Documentary "The Making of Moon"
- Documentary "Creating the Visual Effects"
- Science Center Q&A with Director Duncan Jones
- Filmmaker's Q&A at the Sundance Film Festival
The Blu-Ray release has a few extras not on DVD that make it worthwhile. You get all the stuff from the DVD, plus:
- 1080p 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- Italian and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
- Italian and Spanish subtitles
- Featurette "How Did They Do That: Cloning Sam"
- Concept Art Library
No announcements for TrueHD or any other high definition audio (still Dolby Digital is nothing to sneeze at), but you never know. As for if the U.S. release will be the same as the British release I see no reason why it wouldn't considering how incredibly easier it would be to port that release (aside from changing the region code) than to produce a completely different compilation. Keep an eye out for announcements around the holidays, folks. The movie that is a truly amazing achievement will be coming soon to a home near you.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Director Duncan Jones came up with a smart plot and a fine production with a low budget, but good enough to earn a place within the classics of the genre, and there is no question he intended a homage to 2001 - A Space Odyssey. Sam Rockwell delivers an outstanding performance, but unfortunately it is not possible to go into the details without spoiling the story for those that haven't seen it yet (just like telling how The Sixth Sense ends, so you got to see it).
Despite the slow beginning, the story takes quite an unexpected turn (no spoiler again), and Jones delivers quite an interesting movie, with less than a dozen actors and without the need of fast action or breathtaking special effects. This is a US$5 million film and Jones choose to make limited used of digital special effects, so they built a real size prop in the studio for the entire interior of the lunar base, and the exterior lunar landscape and vehicles and equipment were shot using good old miniature models, complemented with just a bit digital imaginary. Considering this is technology from the 70s the end result is amazing, and quite a reminiscence of the TV series Space 1999. I watched the DVD version on a 50" flat screen, and it is unbelievable the movie has such good image and realism without the taking full advantage of the latest digital SFX technology. My only complaint has to do with the images of Earth in the Moon horizon. I think they could have been better, as they look like old NASA pictures.
Together with District 9 and Avatar, these flicks are the best of the 2009 sci-fi crop, and surely good candidates to become classics of the genre, so don't miss it. As usual, this kind of movies are not a commercial hit in the box-office (Moon barely covered its cost), so other than sci-fi buffs, I do recommend it also for lovers of good cinema in general. And finally for those curious about Duncan's previous work, the DVD version I bought came with a short film directed by him called "Whistle", interesting but not on par to "Moon".