Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Man on the moon

Yesterday I saw Moon at The Loft, our local movie theater. We were in the upstairs screening room, which is even more loft-like than the lower. Small with fraying decor, and if you don't mind sitting up front you can lounge on bright red sofas.

I'd seen a couple of scenes from the movie online, before the musical score was added, so I already knew Moon was going to have a bit of a 2001: A Space Odyssey feeling about it. It certainly does feel retro. Director Duncan Jones also claims Alien, Silent Runing and Bladerunner as influences. The movie cost $5 million and is all the better for havng a low budget. The interior sets are wonderful, gritty and lived-in, just the way I like them. There are no expensive firefights or chase scenes - and really, who cares about those when the story stands on its own? Well, movie distributors care, so the movie will have no commercial success.

Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), sole caretaker of Lunar Industries' mining operation on the far side of the moon that provides helium-3 for most of Earth's power needs, has two weeks left on his three-year contract. He's lonely and bored and can't wait to get back home to his wife. Gerty, a HAL-like robot that uses smiley faces to express emotion, is his only companion. Gerty is at first as sinister as you'd expect a robot voiced by Kevin Spacey to be, but admirably feigns compassion and other suitable emotions.

After an accident on the lunar surface, Sam wakes up in the infirmary with no memory of the incident. A few days later he recovers an injured man from a crashed rover - a duplicate Sam Bell in rapidly failing health. Sick Sam and Healthy Sam have to figure out what's going on - what the company is up to, whether there are any more Sam Bells, and what they're going to do about the situation.

There are no huge surprises, no twist ending, but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. In some respects Moon reminds me of a watered down The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas (Ursula Le Guin's short story), although by "watered down" I just mean that the main theme is played out on a smaller stage. I hope Duncan Jones remains on the path of making thoughtful science fiction movies, because hardly anyone else is walking it.


1 comment:

Yahzi said...

I figured out how it should have ended - Sam climbs into the transporter, makes it to Earth alive, and when the workers come to open it up, one of the says, "What? Another one? That's 3 escaped clones this month!" Then they shoot him.

Implying that there's Sam Bells all over the moon, and they all keep repeating the same life-experience.

I guess I just favor the ironic ending.