Overview: Astronaut Sam Bell attempts to finish out the last few weeks of his three year stay on the moon, but things start to unravel in an unimaginable way. 2009 Rated PG-13: 97 Minutes
Space Oddity: First time director Duncan Jones builds a space epic set around Sam Bell’s (Sam Rockwell) descent into madness, and his coming to terms with a situation that is as bleak as the darkness on his side of the moon. The film builds its science-fiction strength by building up from a fictional but conceivable base: mining the moon for reality based Helium-3. The path travelled by Sam in this movie is a fall from hope, to confusion, to melancholy, to complete existential despair; viewers will want Sam to be back with his family and resume a normal life. This reaction is a credit to fine filmmaking and the hopefulness that sets up the doom that the character will endure during a breathtaking finale.
Labyrinth: Jones gives his film a mesmerizing minimalism, allowing the utmost precision from scene to scene. The film has one central setting–the inside of the mining base—and incorporates one other predominant acting talent. Voiced by Kevin Spacey, GERTY is a robotic arm with emoticons that represent his feelings at any given time. His free flowing artificial intelligence allows remorse for what happens to Sam, and eventually leads to him helping Sam in the movie’s most important stretches, adding an exploration of robotic compassion to an already-rich sci-fi narrative. Moon’s pacing is excellent. The delicate score fills every crevice of cosmological darkness. The CGI is below standard, which is excusable given the small budget, but the movie is shot so well that it feels natural and honest in its lunar placement.
Golden Years: There is a sense that this movie was written for Sam Rockwell. His endearing, relatable approach and general onscreen talent have allowed Jones and the audience to connect with the character of Sam Bell to the fullest. He is a fine actor and Moon is his bravest performance yet.
Overall: Simply stated, if you like sci-fi movies see Moon. The acting by Rockwell is top notch. Clint Mansell composes a top grade score. Fans of in-your-face, shoot-em up sci-fi may want to abstain, as Moon is a slow build of great philosophical and psychological power, and completely worth the patience. The future for Duncan Jones is bright.