*THE OFFICIAL BETTER THAN DRIVE SEAL*
I'm deeply impressed by 'Moon', an intelligent science-fiction movie that tells an entertaining and plausible story instead of indulging in sci-fi pyrotechnics. 'Moon' reminds me of '2001' and the first 'Alien' film, and that's high praise indeed.
SPOILERS THROUGHOUT. 'Moon' depicts the isolation and the gruelling routine of Sam Bell, the lone human worker serving a three-year hitch in an isolated base on the far side of the moon (so he can't even see Earth overhead), apparently in the year 2026. Pre-recorded messages can be sent to or from people back home on Earth, but real-time contact is not possible. (More about this below.) Sam's only companion is GERTY, a HAL-like (Halloid?) robot which for some reason has a female name but a male voice and identity. (This is never explained, especially since most male workers would prefer to interact with a female voice.) Gradually, we and Sam discover that all is not as it seems. Actor Sam Rockwell is excellent in what's largely a solo performance. (Or a two-hander, as we'll soon see.)
Although many aspects of this movie impressed me, I'm especially impressed by the splendid 'exterior' shots of the moon. The S/FX team do a fine job of depicting sunlight on the moon (not remotely like sunlight on Earth) as well as the moon's horizon, which would be much closer to the observer than an Earth horizon. Less effective are the brief attempts at depicting the moon's lighter gravity.
The production design is superb: I was impressed by the Eurostile typeface in the moonbase's graphics, and the use of Bank Gothic in the highly original opening credits.
Some scenes are confusing when they shouldn't be. Early on, when Sam is alone in the moonbase, we see him in bed while -- for several seconds -- we hear someone running. If Sam is alone, then who's running? Then a cut to the next shot (of Sam on a treadmill, in a later sequence) reveals that this was an audio transition preceding the image transition, but there's no good reason for the discrepancy.
Some aspects of the story are intentionally confusing. As in 'Alien', the spaceman learns that the glutcorp on Earth has betrayed him ... although here the betrayal is more plausible and arguably defensible.
Visually the limited budget does show but this appears to have been accounted for by giving the entire production a rather endearing lo-fi feel that does match the reality of the future. Too often everything is shiny, white and clean as if dirt has been eliminated and expense is not a limiting factor; it feels more convincing to have things done on the cheap and be worn and old. It has been said endless times already but it does have an engaging "70's" feel to it and, in the wake of the mindless, boring rubbish of Transformers 2, it is nice to find something good being made under the sci-fi banner. In contrast to the models though, the split screen effects are really very good.
For much of this film, there are two of Sam Bell on screen in the same shot: is one of him a clone, or an hallucination? And which is real? In these sequences, the split-screen F/X are seamless. I was particularly impressed by a long sequence of the two Sams playing ping-pong rapidly. But why would a moonbase intended for one crewman contain a ping-pong table? (Does the robot play ping-pong?)
More questions: why do all the clones of Sam Bell have the same facial mole? (Moles aren't genetic; they occur randomly ... which is why I hate all those movies where relatives have matching moles or birthmarks.) Water must be vitally precious on the moon, so why does Sam have a water shower instead of a sonic-wave device to clean himself without using water? When Sam discovers the moonbase's secret lower level that he's not supposed to enter, why does it conveniently have breathable atmosphere and Earth-strength gravity already running so he can explore it? We eventually learn the glutcorp's false reason for why real-time transmissions between Earth and the moonbase are not possible ... but then, when Sam finally phones his family on Earth, the conversation is in GENUINE real time, which IS impossible: there would be a delay of a couple of seconds while transmissions cross the 250,000-mile gap between Earth and the moon. To say nothing of requiring a comsat in selenosynchronous orbit, since Sam's base is on the far side of the moon.
This is a highly intelligent film with a mature story and two solid acting performances by Sam Rockwell at its centre. I look forward to more films by Duncan Jones. My rating: 9 out of 10.