A throw back to such classic sci-fi films as Blade Runner, Silent Running and Outland, Moon is the directorial debut for Duncan Jones. Co-written by Jones and Nathan Parker, the film examines the solitary journey of astronaut Sam Bell, played brilliantly by Sam Rockwell, as he is finishing out a three -year contract on the moon for a large energy corporation.
The film opening is that of an advertisement for Lunar Industries, which claims to be the number one provider of clean energy. The opening sequence seemed to be a tribute of sorts to Jones’ many years working in the ad world as a very successful commercial director. The film then delves into the world of the Moon inhabited by numerous machines including a friendly robot named Gerty who not so coincidentally reminds the audience of Hal in 2001 Space Odyssey. Gerty, voiced by Kevin Spacey, is Sam’s only companion inside the confines of the ship in which he resides.
At the beginning of the film, we find Sam almost at the end of his three-year contract, eager to go home to his wife and three year old little girl with whom he has only seen in video taped messages sent to him periodically. However, as the days back to earth draw near, Sam’s health begins to deteriorate and this is where the story takes an interesting twist. What we come to find out is that Sam is actually not the only person on his ship after all as writer/ director Jones explores themes of humanity, identity and morality.
Sam Rockwell, best known for his roles in such independent films as Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, The Assassination of Jesse James and Choke, is once again captivating in the title role of Sam Bell. The role seemed to be made for the actor, and in fact was; Jones wrote the role specifically with Rockwell in mind. Rockwell plays Sam with great humor, his comedic timing is sharp, and vulnerability, which brings a lot of depth to the character of Bell. Rockwell’s performance certainly made me question why this talented actor isn’t working more and Jones should also be commended for creating a role that allows Rockwell to truly shine.
Filmed entirely at Shepperton Studios in London, the film was shot in thirty-three days on a budget of only five million dollars, and though clearly money was saved on cast, the film certainly looks far more expensive than it’s budget alludes. The shots of the moon, the base and the machinery all look incredible, and the special effects, which were mostly miniatures, were constructed with marvelous detail. Along with a score that will stay in your head long after the movie is over by composer Clint Mansell who also composed music for Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream and The Wrestler, The Moon is a shining example to big studio Hollywood that you don’t need an inflated $100 million budget to make something look good. Jones certainly should have a brilliant and long career ahead of him, as long as Sony Classics does a bang up job promoting the limited release of this science fiction gem.
Check out Moon when it opens in theaters June 12th.