Duncan Jones has captured the term Sci-Fi in this tiny film that lacks all of the laser shootouts, stunning phasers and starfighter battles that the genre is known for. Notably fans of Sci-Fi will tell you that Science Fiction is beyond the action of the Star Wars and much more than the drama of the Battlestar Galacticas. Sci-Fi for true fans is a bit of everything but mostly the “what if” of our existences. What if we could fold space to travel great distances, what if there was an alternate reality separated by a mystical gate and what if a tiny planet-like structure could be developed to destroy whole planets. Moon bypasses all of the cheap thrills of the typical theater fodder and gives us a simple enough tale about a lone astronaut.
Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is a husband, a new father and the most recent astronaut to inhabit the moon harvesting Helium-3 (a source of energy that powers 75% of the world’s energy) from an automated lunar mine. Sam and his robot partner GERTY (Kevin Spacey) go through a daily routine that borders on maddening in it’s monotony. So as his 3 year stint comes to an end, Sam eagerly sends messages of love to his wife and daughter, does his duty, and draws smiley faces to countdown the days till his return. As the days tick away Sam begins to go a bit stir-crazy and starts hallucinating and becoming careless. We are led into a battle of his mind which inevitably uncovers a terrible truth behind his mission. A truth that I am sure will query the minds of the Sci-Fi crowd as to whether his plight is inhumane or merely a means to an end for the greater good.
Moon gives us Sam Rockwell mid-screen for an hour or so, being that he and he alone is the center of this tale. His emotional rise and fall is felt through his acting and with the help of make-up you are taken into his life and are made to feel sorry for him. No-one should have to stick it out on the moon away from his loved ones but astronaut Sam has a mission and we are taken along for the ride with him. Though it took me awhile to get warmed up to GERTY due to Kevin Spacey’s creepy voice, he turned out to be a pretty good choice for it and my misgivings were dispelled not long after being introduced to him.
With a good soundtrack and the brevity of the movie that will seem like a novel of thought for the intelligent movie watching mind, Moon took me back to the type of Sci-Fi that was made in the early 70s. After seeing the credits roll and contemplating the loneliness of poor Sam Bell, the song “Space Oddity” by David Bowie came to mind and I found myself singing the lyrics. This seems to make perfect sense being that the director is the son of Bowie. Moon is the first in a 3-part series, and with this one being so good, I can only anticipate the rest being just as stellar.