Joshua's Review of Moon
Moon: Analysis and Review
Most science fiction nowadays has a level of shallowness about it; computer imagery has changed the way we look at cinema, for the worst more often than not. However, every so often a film will come along that reminds us of why we love science fiction. Enter Moon, directed by Duncan Jones and starring the always-charming Sam Rockwell. Moon is about a man who works, well, on the moon, harvesting moon gas as an energy source. Having been on the planet for three years, Sam is longing to be with his family. One day while exploring the planet, Sam stumbles upon an accident and discovers.... himself, literally. What follows is an exquisitely made film, which is smart in it's direction and simplistic storytelling.
Moon, like Metropolis and The Twilight Zone, shows man for what it really is - a shallow, depraved creature. But, similar to the pieces mentioned above, Moon also shows man's efforts to cover up it's true nature and to act like it is a perfect, all-powerful force. Not much is said in Moon about Earth's current status beyond that it needs the moon's gas for energy - but this is great because fleshing out Earth would've put the film out of focus on it's main character, Sam. Sam is a simple man, like a man in pursuit of the American Dream, he loves his family and his hobbies. Sam is nothing more than his job, and Sam is very good at that job. The beginning of the film sets up his everyday routine, which in turn causes the viewer to invest in Sam when his routine gets interrupted. Unlike the heroes in Blade Runner and Metropolis, Sam has to confront himself - directly and literally. When Sam finds himself in an accident, he saves him. The two's relationship then becomes the heart of the film. Despite the positive relationship, Sam does very clearly live in a Dystopic world, which is controlled by a corporation that does something horrific in concept, but perfectly in execution.
From a religious standpoint, Moon can be seen as a message about man's desire for companionship. Almost all of the motivation for Sam in the film is to get back to Earth and to be with his family. It asks, what would you do in this situation? How would you respond to yourself? What does it mean to be human? God clearly wants us to be in companionship, i.e. with Him and with others - in friendship, and in marriage. Ironically, in a film focused exclusively on one character that is alone, the message is about companionship and the lengths man will go to get those relationships. Sam wants those things too, however given his circumstances Sam's only real companion is his station's A.I. system, Gerty.
Gerty (voiced by Kevin Spacey) is meant to serve as comic relief and as a plea for technology. Nothing about Gerty speaks for a negative viewpoint of technology (unlike Blade Runner and Metropolis which clearly do so), in fact, he is very positive and his actions throughout the film demonstrate that if used right, technology will do what it has always been meant to do - serve mankind. Gerty and Sam have a professional, but entertaining relationship, that is always in its place. Gerty is not some computer that goes beyond his limits - he is no T1000 as in Terminator 2, and he is no R2-D2. But, Gerty isn't meant to be. Gerty is a literal translation of A.I. perfected. And this, along with Sam's motivations and desires, serves the story harmoniously. Sam never takes advantage of Gerty, and Gerty never tries to trick Sam in anyway that would lead Sam to harm.
Moon is a wonderful, simple little film, which explodes into a thought-provoking character study. It reminds us that the idea of Dystopia is purely a product of man. Gerty is perfect and harmless, even helpful, and unlike Blade Runner and Metroplis, which point at technology as being the root of destruction in society, Moon says the opposite - that man, the creator of technology is the root of evil - the only antagonistic acts in the film come from man itself, in it's desire for wealth, and in it's desire for love. Sam himself proves this point later on in the film, although I don't believe the film has a true antagonist in the purest form of the word. There is no real villain. And that is smart filmmaking, and only enriches the other reasons that I enjoyed this film.
Coupled with a good bit of humor, and some truly emotional moments, Moon is an interesting unique take on the future of mankind. It's smarter than it seems and its lead delivers a knockout, stand-alone performance. However, I will say Moon is a tad slow at times, which I feel could be seen as an artistic decision; the entire film does take place on the moon after all.
Overall, what Moon accomplishes best is its message. The message being, that man himself will in someway fail - be it through other men, technology, or himself. Although not a sad film entirely, Moon definitely accomplishes tugging at the heartstrings of an invested viewer. It is an enjoyable time that should be seen at least once, in a quiet room that's a little chilly. That's how you should experience Moon. Science Fiction is at it's best when it effectively sends a message, and Moon does just that.