Sunday, January 17, 2010


I’d heard quite a bit of good buzz about this film, so we checked it out. And I’m glad we did, because it’s excellent.

Sam Rockwell, who really carries this movie, plays Sam Bell, an employee of a corporation that mines Helium-3 (a cheap, clean energy source) on the Moon. Sam is the only person in the mostly automated station, and his job is to collect the cylinders of Helium-3 mined by some mobile harvesting machines and send them back to Earth by rocket. There are problems with the communications system, so the only contact he has with Earth is through delayed messages. He does have a robot called Gerty (I’m sure the letters stand for something, but I never picked up what it was), voiced by Kevin Spacey.

The isolation gets to Sam after a while, but he has a three-year contract that’s almost up, so he’ll soon be going back to Earth. Before that can happen, though, some vaguely sinister things begin to happen, and eventually Sam’s life on the Moon turns downright weird, not to mention dangerous, because (cue spooky music) he may not be alone in the mining station after all.

Despite that set-up, MOON isn’t a horror movie, although it’s pretty creepy at times. It’s pure science fiction, the sort of low-key, intelligent yarn you might find in a Fifties issue of GALAXY or F&SF. The special effects aren’t flashy at all, but they’re very effective. Rockwell is in every scene and does a great job. It’s really his show, along with the direction by Duncan Jones (the son of David Bowie, I believe, who was also in a good science fiction film, THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH). If you’re a science fiction fan, I can’t recommend MOON highly enough. It’s not a swashbuckling spectacle like STAR WARS (hey, I love those, too), but it is a smart, compelling film.


Scott Parker said...

James, I enjoyed it as much as you did. It's nice to see a real science fiction film that tackles brainy issues with as much gusto as blowing away aliens in other films. It and District 9 were my two fav SF films from 2009.

Bruce said...

The whole film rests on Sam Rockwell's performance and he pulls it off perfectly. The only probalem I had with the movie was I figured it out really early.

Todd Mason said...

That it might've appeared in the back pages of a 1950s GALAXY is probably the nice way of saying what I found problematic about this film...overfamiliar, at best. Also, I have a problem with cute robots and Eevul Corporations which spend vast amounts of money to keep the equivalent of a stoner (or stoners) in a position that robots could do much less expensively, except then they wouldn't be EEEEVULL!

I fell asleep at one point in the theater.

James Reasoner said...

I can't really argue with your logic or anything else that you say, but since most current movie SF still reminds me of stuff from Forties issues of AMAZING or THRILLING WONDER STORIES (not always a bad thing, I hasten to add), I found MOON to be a nice change.

Carl V. said...

I'm starting to hear good buzz as well and I will definitely be checking this one out. I was pleasantly surprised to see it at the Redbox when I was there earlier today.

Greg Zimmerman said...

Nice review - I also enjoyed this little-seen film. Rockwell is fantastic!

Cool blog, too - I'm a first-time visitor, am following now, and am looking forward to reading what you have to say!