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Non-Review Review: Moon

It’s been a good year for niche cinema. And looks to continue to be. For the moment though, Moon is one heck of a science fiction film. I’m goign to try to be careful and not really give away too many spoilers, but sufficed to say hat it is one of the most cleverly constructed science fiction films of the past decade – possibly since The Truman Show and Gattaca.

Sam Rockwell gets spaced out...

Sam Rockwell gets spaced out...

Sam Rockwell plays Sam Bell, a miner maintaining an extensive lunar harvesting operation. He is three weeks away from the end of his three year contract and is looking forward to going home and seeing his wife and new born daughter. But things aren’t quite going to plan. Isolated completely from the planet when the communications device stops receiving a live feed, Sam is starting to see things. Things that aren’t there. His only companion – the base’s artificial intelligence, Gerdy – is starting to worry about Sam.

Sam Rockwell holds the movie together with his bear hands. As the only actor on screen for most of the runtime – though Kevin Spacey does provide voice-over duties – it is Rockwell’s job to hold our attention and suck us into this world. The script cleverly avoids patronising the audience with unnecessary exposition, so it’s Rockwell’s performance that must guide us as to what is really going on, and he does a fantastic job. I do hope that this movie will allow Rockwell to emerge as a quirky leading man in a way that his first attempt (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) didn’t.

The script is tight and focused. There’s no waste and no excess. Save an introduction to Sam’s life in orbit, the movie moves along at a fantastic pace. In fairness, there’s relatively little chance of the audience being left behind, but the movie doesn’t neatly explain everything that happens on screen. I quite liked that approach, but I can see some movie-goers objecting to it. That isn’t to see the movie is as openly surreal as, say, 2001: A Space Oddyssey. It’s a lot simpler and easier to comprehend, but it doesn’t really stop for breath as it movies along.

Duncan Jones has managed a remarkable feat for his first major motion picture. He has completely constructed a new world. Sure there are the staples of science fiction – bright, white corridors; an Artificial Intelligence; wall panels – but Jones manages to cleverly assemble all these conventions and tropes in a fresh way. There is a clearly a lot of work put into making the movie’s world work and it shows. It is to Jones’ credit that this movie looks like it were shot on a budget befitting a blockbuster, even though we know better. There are some fantastic technical shots that make me wonder how Jones did it, and that’s a sign of a solid director.

All in all, one of the better movies of the past year, astonishingly well put together. It’s a movie with big ideas but a small focus, and it’s executed with panache. Anyone interested in science-fiction or solid drama should definitely look this movie up.


Moon is the first film from director Duncan Jones and is rumoured to be the opening salvo of a trilogy. It stars Sam Rockwell (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Frost/Nixon) and the voice of Kevin Spacey (American Beauty, The Usual Suspects). It was released in the US on the 12th of June 2009 and released in the UK and Ireland on the 17th July 2009.

10 Responses

  1. […] get nominated this year. Despite the reception they’ve received, I wouldn’t count on Moon or Star Trek getting through. Up (which hasn’t been released in Ireland yet) has a slightly […]

  2. […] fairness, this year looks to be an epic year for science-fiction – Watchmen is already out, Moon is currently on release, Avatar is due out in the next few months and there seems to be legitimate […]

  3. […] film Moon, starring Sam Rockwell and Kevin Spacey is opening in the States next week. It actually looks quite […]

  4. […] Baldwin (Born on the Fourth of July, A Simple Twist of Fate), Kevin Spacey (American Beauty, Moon), Pete Postlethwaite (Romeo & Juliet, In the Name of the Father), Giancarlo Esposito (Miami […]

  5. […] spoil myself, accidentally or otherwise. I was able to figure out the ‘twist’ to Moon (which, in fairness, is revealed twenty minutes in) before setting foot in the cinema and […]

  6. […] by what is being hailed as the most fresh and original science fiction film since… well, Moon way back in June. Maybe I’m being harsh though. A lot of it was very good, some of it was […]

  7. […] – particularly when two of the films that have seen the best critical reaction this year (Moon and District 9) are inarguably science fiction. You’d think there’s be at least some […]

  8. […] fair share of incredibly important films (Metropolis comes to mind, and this year alone has seen Moon and District 9 among others), the slasher movie genre has produced a handful of good films. And […]

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