Sunday, January 17, 2010

Moon (2009)

This last Tuesday the movie "Moon" was released on DVD, and so this week-end I picked it up. I had wanted to see the film when it hit theaters but it only got a limited release, and so I never got around to it.

Moon is directed by Duncan Jones, and stars Sam Rockwell in a sort of dual role. More on that in a minute. The plot of the film is this:

"Astronaut Sam Bell has a quintessentially personal encounter toward the end of his three-year stint on the Moon, where he, working alongside his computer, GERTY, sends back to Earth parcels of a resource that has helped diminish our planet's power problems"

It's Sam Rockwell's movie since he is in it almost 99% of the time. It is no small feat to do this also. If you have one main character in your movie the story better be interesting, and the character identifiable, or you loose your audience. Fortunately Rockwell's performance elicits our interest and our sympathies.

The film reminded me of films back in the day. Such films as "Silent Running","Alien","Outland", and even a bit of of John Carpenters "Dark Star". The effects weren't all computer generated, and there was some model building done to show the surface of the moon and the complex where Rockwell's character lives. Maybe it's this, or possible the genre itself that reminds me of these older films.

I like films that show space as a lived in dirty environment. 2001 is the only film that shows it a bit more sleeker then the others I've mentioned. Yet the film reminds me of 2001 because of it's effects. Too much now is done with CGI, and though the effects are getting stunning and quite remarkable I still think it is sometimes not necessary.

But all things contribute to the liking of this film. The writing, the acting, the set design, and even the cinematography. That's what a good movie is suppose to do, and here Jones does it really well.

Are there some problems in the movie? Yes, but I believe those problems just didn't make it palatable to audiences in general. Such reviews like:

"Moon actually gets a little dull in the later reels, just when it should be peaking in mystery and tension." or "By halfway the film starts to feel like a mere exercise, one more effort to get maximum value from limited resources. Too much machinery, not enough dread" are valid reviews.

There does not seem to be a lot of urgency, or drama in the film. I myself liked the look, and feel, but their was no tension in the film. Jones does put in a count down to a ships arrival which is suppose to make us feel some dread, but we the audience already know what's happening, and so there is little tension. I know this film was done on a limited budget. I here the budget was about $ 5 million. For a sci-fi film that is low, and so as a filmmaker Jones needed to keep the costs down in his film. How is this done? By the simple trick of keeping the action in one location. That location is of course the moon, so the sets are very well done, and convincing. But again with little tension in the film there isn't much audience involvement.

Maybe that's what hurts the film. If you like sci-fi stories, and are an avid reader of sci-fi this film is for you, but for the mainstream audience it may be a bit too dull. Hence it's limited distribution I guess.

I enjoyed the film, and thought it was really neatly done. The old adage of leaving the audience wanting more may hurt this film. I really wanted to see Rockwell's character deal with his successful escape to Earth. But that would be a totally different type of film, and I think one more interesting. Also I had questions about the clones escape that was never answered. Like did the company design the clones with a limited lifespan so in order to protect their secret of cheap labor, or did the 1st clone die because of injuries due to his accident?

Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but that's what makes "Moon" so cool, and interesting. That's why I like it. It leaves me wanting more, and any movie that does that is good in my book. I recommend the film, and for those low budget filmmakers out there it is a sort of inspirational movie to watch. One can achieve an interesting and good looking movie with little budget. All it takes is ingenuity and this film has a lot of that.

No comments: