Space Week #2 – No independence on the Moon (2009)

moon3Sam Rockwell plays Sam in Moon (2009), an independent film.  The studio may be independent, but the main theme of the movie is independence too.  The people of Earth want to be independent from fossil fuels, so they’ve turned to a huge corporation who provides them helium-3, the newest gas-replacement.  Sam is the sole caretaker of the helium-3 mining station on the Moon, so it seems like he is the most independent man in the Universe.  At first.  Then he learns the truth.  

moon5Sam works on the Moon under contract to a large corporation.  He is to supervise the automated helium-3 mining thingies and do some other technical crap.  His only help and his only companion is GERTY.  Sam exercises like Dave in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and goes about his daily work.  He records and watches video messages like Dave too, but the practical and human nature to this film make it a very different movie from 2001: A Space Odyssey.  In a funny comparison, 2001 has a boisterous score, and I didn’t even notice the one in Moon.  My point is, the comparisons are superficial.  

This is a very claustrophobic movie, but the camera stays at a relative distance most of the time.  The camera comes closer later on when things become more intimate, but never too close.  I don’t know what the hell I’m really talking about, but a movie with only one character is not the most personal one around.  

moon4GERTY is played by Kevin Spacey, the sentient computer.  He is Sam’s HAL9000.  Kevin Spacey has the perfect evil voice for this part and he seems like he’s being deceptive every time he talks.  Even when he is just chatting with Sam, he sounds like he’s being deceptive.  When things get serious, Sam asks him a question and the bastard answers with a question.  Kinda funny actually.

Sam is a very two-dimensional character.  He grows over the course of the movie and later realizes how he needs to change.  He has a routine and everything seems very natural about him.  When the twists are thrown in, they are believable and pretty well-done.  Director Duncan Jones is pretty young, but you can see his talent in this film.

The tension is one complaint I have about this movie.  There is none.  Or at least not enough.  There is a countdown to rescue, but it doesn’t inspire any tension in the movie at all.  The rescue doesn’t mean anything.  Everything else is pretty darn good.  It is entertaining, exciting, mysterious, and even comedic at times.  The characters are good and the visuals are even better.

moon7Like Intersteller (2014), this movie is what science fiction is.  I like that.  It’s great.  Roger Ebert gave this movie three and a half stars and I agree.  It has a great concept, and a good setting.  The themes are obvious, but well-presented.  They are not in your face screaming at you like in Silent Running (1972).  The themes are more understated.  The questions this movie raises are thought-provoking: Do we really know ourselves?  Can we trust ourselves?  Does science or industry have a right to mess with human individuality?  What kind of guy would let this kind of thing happen?  The movie tells us.  I mean, it tells us, but not with an exposition sandwich, and not with cryptic allegories either.

I’ve tried to review this movie without giving spoilers, so I apologize if most of this is confusing.  However, you can see that this movie does go deeper than most.  This is the kind of movie I don’t see anymore, and I missed it back in 2009 when it was released.  It was originally released in June, which is a stupid time to release this kind of movie, because that’s the beginning of summer.  Summer is the land of action and adventure movies, so I have no doubt that this one was lost in a sea of explosions.  I recommend people unearth this movie, because the story is a welcome addition to the genre.