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Moon DVD

2009 independent science fiction film starring Sam Rockwell in dual roles.

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A Surprisingly Well-Constructed Piece of Indie Filmmaking

  • Apr 13, 2010

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. 

A Surprisingly Well-Constructed Piece of Indy Filmmaking

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April 19, 2010
Great review, Jason! This definitely sounds like one that I would probably enjoy. I love films that can entertain and make you think!
April 19, 2010
Thanks for the feedback Adrianna. I would definitely suggest at least giving it a rental as it will most certainly get you thinking!
April 19, 2010
You're welcome. I shall put it in my queue of movies. :)
April 16, 2010
I only skimmed parts of the first reviews to appear on this for the obvious reason that they almost always disclosed the entire plot. Congratulations again for keeping your cards close to your vest and still managing to turn out an excellent review. Gotta love Rockwell's performance and those old school effects. I've heard something about a possible sequel to this film.
April 13, 2010
"Moon" gets the JRider treatment! Very nice review, Jason. Glad you liked this one, I really liked it myself and it was surprisingly great for a low budget sci-fi film. You know that the special EFX for the moon rover and the moon effects weren't CGI but they used models? Impressive. Excellent review!
April 13, 2010
I had heard that! I mean models, how fantastic is that?! This right here is where I hope future science fiction gets back to (no more Michael Bay!!). Thanks for the feedback my man. I purposely steered clear of your critique in recent weeks so as not to accidentally borrow from it! Now that mine is complete, I will get back to enjoying yours!
April 16, 2010
It only goes to prove my contention that film makers should rely more heavily on old school effects and use CGI for blending and polishing them or when old school simply can't do the job at all.
April 17, 2010
Amen Queen B! Your insight is further proof that true film buffs understand/ recognize the solution to this most disturbing of trends.
More Moon (2009 movie) reviews
review by . January 14, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
What Makes a SOUL?
   I’ve always had a fondness for movies about isolation, science fiction and most especially psychological thrillers. Little wonder that I would be interested in the debut film of director Duncan Jones with the movie called “MOON” since it blends all three of those themes. “Moon” premiered in the Sundance film festival and enjoyed a limited theatrical run. It was the recipient of the “Best British Independent Film” in BIFA (British Independent …
review by . January 22, 2010
I thought this was a great movie that really makes you contemplate the issues. I highly recommend adding this to your Netflix Queue now!      Solid acting was performance by Rockwell, he deserves an Oscar nod for his performance of Sam.      SPOILER ALERT -- Please see the movie first before reading any further.      I liked the starting point, we have fixed the worlds energy crisis, we are now clean and green. Wow, I wonder if we can get …
review by . July 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Moon is sci-fi in the order of 2001 A Space Odyssey, not Star Wars. It's great film to make you think.      I don't wanna give things away either.  I watched Moon not knowing anything about what was going to happen and I think that made it much more better.  Thus I suggest avoiding any spoilers or even the trailer if you can.      The computer in Moon instantly reminded me of HAL from 2001.  I will say that things are not as they appear …
review by . March 28, 2010
There was a time when Science Fiction movies were about big ideas, not big explosions. The 1960's and 70's produced movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Silent Running, Solaris, and Dark Star. Moon, the directoral debut of Duncan "Son of David Bowie" Jones, is definitely of that lineage.       From the start, it's apparent that Moon wears its influences unashamedly on its sleeve - all of the aforementioned films are echoed in some way, with the addition of Alien and Outland. …
review by . January 22, 2010
Here's a funny thing: I had a moment of desperation towards the end of Act 2 where I thought it was going to fall apart. Everything was going well - tight dialog, well acted, interesting twists - and I could predict a cliche, see-it-all-before Hollywood ending that was going to destroy the film. I actually paused and opened a bottle of wine to numb the potential studio train wreck that was bound to happen. Yet bizarrely, the writers managed to take the film in a completely different direction in …
review by . April 11, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
  Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is a man working for the Lunar Industries on a trip by himself to the moon. He has a three year contract to live there alongside the most helpful computer GERTY (Kevin Spacey). Unfortunately for Sam, there is no direct communication from where he is and Earth, making Sam all too lonely over the years doing nothing but talking to himself and his intelligent computer that attends to his needs everyday. Sam desperately wants to go home to Earth where his wife and child …
review by . February 27, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
In a not-so-distant future, Earth's energy is being supplied through extraction of Helium-3 from the Moon. Sam Rockwell plays Sam Bell, a space miner whose job is to make sure that the massive mining machines keep running and to ship the fuel they extract back to Earth. He's at the tail end of a three year stint, and can't wait to go home -- and Gerty 3000, his robot companion whose design and mission is a significant twist from that of Hal 9000 (of 2001 - A Space Odyssey), seems worried …
review by . February 27, 2011
posted in SF Signal
   I finally got to see this much talked about, minimalist science fiction film from debut director David Bowie's Son (Duncan Jones). I have to say up-front that I was bothered about the premise of this film from the moment that I first heard it in teaser ads: lone inhabitant of a Lunar mining station goes bonkers - maybe. People go nutso when they are all alone for too long and there is no way that anyone investing the untold billions necessary to mine the moon would risk their …
review by . May 09, 2010
Initially, Moon might seem like a remake of 2001 - A Space Odyssey - it even has a HAL-like computer called Gerty - but it takes a different turn. In fact, after the first half-hour, Moon is more about lunar technician Sam Bell's mysterious origins than space exploration. The plot is surprisingly thick and takes some unexpected turns. I won't spoil it, but it's definitely pretty cool.     I love the ambience of the movie. The sterile, white setting really does seem like a realistic …
Quick Tip by . September 19, 2010
Not for everyone. Those expecting a SciFi adventure with lots of action and dumbed down dialogue will be disappointed. Instead, this is a slow, nuanced, quiet, powerful movie that features Sam Rockwell acting his butt off in every scene. The story goes in an interesting and unexpected direction, and if you stay with it, this movie will stay with you
About the reviewer

Ranked #14
Jason Rider (AKA OneNeo on Amazon.com) is the author of the successful children's fantasy novel series The Uncommon Adventures of Tucker O'Doyle from Bellissima Publishing.      … more
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About this movie


Moon is a 2009 science fiction/thriller film about a solitary lunar employee who finds that he may not be able to go home to Earth so easily. The film is the feature film debut of commercial director Duncan Jones, and actor Sam Rockwell stars as the lunar employee. Kevin Spacey voices his robot companion. The film premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival in January 2009, and was released in selected theatres in New York and Los Angeles on 12 June 2009. The film will expand to additional theaters in the United States on 3 July 2009 and 10 July 2009, and will be released in the United Kingdom on 17 July 2009.
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Director: Duncan Jones
Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller, Fantasy
Release Date: January 23, 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Duncan Jones, Nathan Parker
DVD Release Date: January 12, 2010
Runtime: 97 minutes
Studio: Sony Picture Classics
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