August 8, 2009 by Zack
Sci-Fi films have become so flimsy lately; they don’t seem to be about ideas but rather gimmicks just to show off spiffy special effects and create new toy lines. But there are a few movies in the past few years that have been able to delve into what sci-fi is really about: questions rather than answers, and situations that may be far-fetched but still ground into some kind of reality that we can understand and relate to. I think of “Sunshine” and “Children of Men” first, but here’s a little movie that will probably be passed over in the box office, and may not get any kind of attention until it comes out on DVD. That is a shame, but similar things happened with “Sunshine”, and I think that movie is finally getting some due credit.
“Moon” is a film that is hard to give too much away about in terms of plot; there is something that happens about thirty minutes into it that completely turns it on its head, and the rest of the movie–if I were to explain it, would probably ruin your experience. I had no idea what the movie was about going into it. I think that’s the best way to approach it. I urge you not to look up the film on Wikipedia–they give away every single thing about it.
The movie works almost like an “Outer Limits” or “Twilight Zone” episode. It begins with a man named Sam Bell (played by Sam Rockwell) who is on a 3 year contract to carry out harvesting missions on the moon: to mine for helium-3 from the moon’s surface and bring back to Earth to aid in nuclear power. He is all by himself, except for a robot companion named GERTY (Kevin Spacey provides the voice). While he is there, he receives various transmissions from the Lunar Project managers, and his wife, who is with their 3 year old daughter. Sam is two weeks away from the end of his contract when he suddenly injures himself after seeing one of the harvesters break down. He thinks he sees a vision of someone, a girl, and loses concentration. When he awakens, there is a surprise waiting for him. And everything is changed.
And that’s about all I’ll give you for the plot. It is not a complicated movie, but it is very interesting, and Sam Rockwell gives an Oscar-calibur performance that will most likely go unnoticed by Hollywood. I have no idea why this movie was released in the middle of the summer, but it is an independent film that, after it premiered at Sundance, couldn’t get a big release I suppose. It’s not exactly blockbuster material, but it’s thought-provoking, and it’s very well done. Rockwell definitely carries the movie because, well, he has to, he’s the only character throughout. Much like Will Smith in “I Am Legend” and Tom Hanks in “Castaway”, Rockwell shows he has immense power as a leading actor; I can only hope this brings him some bigger roles down the road.
The film is rather short which is also a nice thing; it doesn’t go on too long, it doesn’t get pretentious even with its somewhat strange plot (it does make sense once it’s explained). It stays even throughout, and it never disappoints. If you find a way to see this gem before it leaves theatres, you will not be disappointed. If you do miss it, look for it on DVD when it comes out.