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DVD Shopping Bag: Duncan Jones’ Moon

Sci-Fi Indie hit arrives on Blu-ray

By Robert T. Trate     January 12, 2010

Sam Rockwell in Duncan Jones’ Moon on Blu-ray
© Bob Trate


What is it about Duncan Jones’ Moon? Last July I eagerly awaited the movie. When July 17th arrived there was not one screening at the local 24 screen cinema. Plenty of Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen screenings (still) but not one for Moon. I opened up Fandango and broadened my search and lo and behold there it was on one screen deep in the heart of the Philadelphia. With traffic an hour’s drive, no traffic thirty minutes. I watched the trailer for the umpteenth time and headed in. It was packed. It was after all only on one screen in the area and I am safe in saying that all those in attendance really wanted to see the movie. It wasn’t a, “Transformers 2 is sold out,” crowd “so let’s see the other science fiction film called Moon.”
I wanted to love the film but I didn’t. I couldn’t figure out why. The premise is brilliant and Sam Rockwell’s performance is equally so. There are enough sci-fi red herrings in there that the story could have fallen into the usual plots but didn’t. This kept us guessing and questioning what was happening to Rockwell’s Sam Bell. Thankfully this wasn’t another sequel, prequel, re-imagined, old TV show feature film re-launch and for that I was incredibly thankful. The special effects are a breath of fresh air instead of the tired digital water colors blending together. So why didn’t I love Moon?
The Blu-ray and DVD arrive today and despite not loving the film I picked it up and gave it another shot. I checked out the surprisingly detailed special features. Each supplied great insight into what drove Jones to make the film and all that Rockwell went through in his dual role. Jones wrote the script with Rockwell in mind after the two couldn’t agree on a part for an earlier project. Rockwell, who loves to improvise, had to remember exactly where he stood and what his hands did while listening for his own voice cues to act opposite of himself. There is an incredible documentary about the miniatures used in Moon which should be a wake up call to all of Hollywood. The blending of simple miniatures and CGI should be done like this all the time. It’s called artistry people. Stop selling out for the quick and easy effects, your films will look better. The revelation that Jones spent 5 million dollars to make the film may be more shocking than the plot’s revelation but even more shocking is how many people went to see Transformers 2, the same movie that had a set of robotic balls hanging off of one of its villains. Finally, just for fun, I watched the trailer again. Then it hit me. It was the trailer that led me to not loving the film.
While watching the trailer (at the bottom via YouTube) I realized something about myself. I wasn’t living in the moment or even Sam’s moment while I was watching the film. I was projecting the outcome the entire time. With each turn in the movie my mind would search back for clues and try to project the outcome. Thus when the big revelation turns out to be so simplistic my own expectations for the film caused it to fail. I believed that perhaps Sam was stuck in purgatory, trapped in an experiment or any one of twenty different episodes of the Twilight Zone. The mystery and solving it was so important that I lost sight of just sitting back and enjoying the movie unfold.
That trailer was so enticing with its incredible hook that perhaps it would have been better to never have seen it all. Then how would I have known or wanted to see this film? Is it possible for me to stop projecting as I sit there desperately trying to solve the clues of the film? I hope so. I don’t love Duncan Jones’ Moon but I like it a whole lot more now. It showed me what I lost sight of sitting there in the dark. That I need to live in the moment and like Sam enjoy every moment as it flickers by me in the darkness. 
Billy Jack [Blu-ray] ~ Tom Laughlin, Delores Taylor, Clark Howat, and Howard Hesseman
Breaking Point ~ Armand Assante, Tom Berenger, Musetta Vander, and Busta Rhymes
Broken Glass (Vidrio Roto) ~ Gustavo Camelot
Ca$h ~ Thom Doty
Cliffhanger [Blu-ray] ~ Sylvester Stallone
Dark Rage ~ Christopher Dunne
The Drummer ~ Jaycee Chan
The Hurt Locker [Blu-ray] ~ Ralph Fiennes
The Hurt Locker
Killer Biker Chicks ~ Rose Gorlano, Brenna Lee Roth, Elske McCain, and Scarlet Salem
Last Action Hero [Blu-ray] ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger
Moment After (1999) ~ David a.R. White
Nun of That
Onimasa ~ Shima Iwashita, Tatsuya Nakadai, Masako Natsume, and Tetsuro Tamba
Sentenciados ~ Armando Hernandez, Grabriela Barajas, and Alan Ciangherotti
Sentenciados [Blu-ray]
The Riverman ~ Bruce Greenwood, Sam Jaeger, Sarah Manninen, and Kathleen Quinlan
When Night Falls ~ Kevin Keys
Wrong Turn at Tahoe ~ Harvey Keitel, Louis Mandylor, Miguel Ferrer, and Cuba Gooding Jr.
Ghost in the Shell 2.0 ~ Atsuko Tanaka, Akio Ôtsuka, Kôichi Yamadera, and Tesshô Genda
Hidamari Sketch: Season 1
Naruto: Shippuden, Vol. 5
Bugs Bunny's Cupid Capers ~ Mel Blanc
The Simpsons: The Complete Twentieth Season ~ Dan Castellaneta, Nancy Cartwright, Julie Kavner, and Yeardley Smith
Transformers: Season 2, Volume 2 (25th Anniversary Edition) ~ Peter Cullen, Frank Welker, Chris Latta, and Corey Burton
Big Fan ~ Patton Oswalt, Marcia Jean Kurtz, Michael Rapaport, and Matt Servitto
The Brothers Bloom ~ Adrien Brody, Robbie Coltrane, Ricky Jay, and Maximilian Schell
The Brothers Bloom [Blu-ray]
Criterion Collection
8 1/2 (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] ~ Marcello Mastroianni, Anouk Aimée, Claudia Cardinale, and Sandra Milo
CockHammer ~ Joe Hammerstone, Erik A. Williams, and Thaddeus Starbuckle
Halloween II [Blu-ray] ~ Brad Dourif, Bill Fagerbakke, Danielle Harris, and Howard Hesseman
Halloween II (Unrated Director's Cut)
Halloween II
House On Sorority Row ~ Kate McNeil, Eileen Davidson, Janis Ward, and Robin Meloy
The Matrix [Blu-ray] ~ Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, and Hugo Weaving (re-release see my review)
Moon [Blu-ray] ~ Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey, Dominique McElligott, and Rosie Shaw
Riot on 42nd Street ~ John Patrick Hayden, Michelle Owens, and Jeff Fahey
10 Things I Hate About You, Vol. 1 ~ Larry Miller
ER: The Complete Twelfth Season ~ Goran Visnjic, Maura Tierney, Mekhi Phifer, and Parminder Nagra
Robin Hood: Season Three ~ Jonas Armstrong, Richard Armitage, and Keith Allen
Robert Trate writes two weekly columns for Mania the DVD Shopping Bag and the Toy Maniac. Robert also participates in a pod cast that reviews movies, comics and celebrates all things geek. Check it out at You’ve Got Geek on You.com.
Watch at Your Own Risk:


Showing items 1 - 8 of 8
redhairs99 1/12/2010 4:41:10 AM

Cockhammer?  Is that actually a movie?  HAHAHAHA!!

StarlightGuard 1/12/2010 5:39:49 AM

I know this is going to be off topic -- but, what the hell? there's a dude in his underwear lounging on a chair as part of the advertisement up above?

when the hell did half naked guys posing for clothing corporations become "genre" specific?

besides Moon, there doesn't seem to be much out there this week...

Hobbs 1/12/2010 9:27:38 AM

I watched Moon last night...thought it was just okay...one of those movies you dont care if you ever watch again.  Not for the home collection, that's for sure.    I didn't find the plot shocking, thought it was predictable.   I think everyone built this thing up all year so its possible my expectations were higher.

invisioner 1/12/2010 10:59:13 AM

 Y'know Hobbs, that is what I liked about the movie, it didn't shock you. It's refreshing to have a pure Sci-Fi film that walks steadily through without horror, tingling suspense or the like, just a good story about something we can all identify with, corporations will screw you. It isn't the super screwing you get by, say, the Weyland company in Aliens (make you an incubator to a wonderful biological weapon) or something like that, but the gentle moving sudden abruption we have experienced, or will. But in Space.

The robots weren't killers, xenomorphs aren't infiltrating, just propaganda at it's worst. It is definitely a "Put yourself in their shoes" kind of film, that, if you imagine yourself as Rockwell, the horror is more tangible.


shac2846 1/12/2010 3:38:26 PM

I picked up Moon today and I'm glad to have it in my collection. There have been some really good jems of movies that came out from Aug to Dec of this year. I usually only buy movies I know I'll watch again but over the past two months I've bought, Inglorious Basterds, District-9, 9, (500) Days of Summer, and now Moon.

I agree with invisioner, it was awsome just to enjoy a purely good story, completely under the radar. Maybe I liked this movie because like the author of the article states that s%$#fest Transformers 2 was out and I had to get the taste of that movie out by watching something actually good. I don't know, I enjoyed Moon, I think Duncan Jones is going to be around for awhile and has some really good movies in him.


hanso 1/12/2010 5:50:37 PM

Just saw it, it's a cool flick but nothing wow about it.  I do want to see what Jones does next with the Source Code which he is suppose to do I think.  Either that or the "Mute" project. 

Hobbs 1/13/2010 6:57:12 AM

I agree that it was refreshing to watch a movie where someone really thought about it before they filmed it.  I don't want to come across as a hater, I think I was just expecting more.  This is the kind of trend I wish all movies would start heading in.  I think the overall pictures would be much better than what we had in 2009.  Hell, if Star Trek would have used half the brain this movie did it would have rocked instead of being a brainless popcorn movie.

mike10 1/13/2010 11:20:00 AM

Hobbs, I agree with you on Star Trek, I am a long time Trek fan and I left the theater feeling disappointed, and don't get me started on Transformers 2. It would have been nice to see a movie that was actually based on the source material.

 Moon is what Sci-Fi should be, thought provoking and leaving you with the feeling that you didn't just waste 2 hours of your life. Not too many Sci-Fi movies did this for me, but Moon did.



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