Sunday, 5 June 2011

Moon


Sam Rockwell is Sam Bell, the lone crew member on a Lunar Industries moonbase; a human presence to ensure that the largely automated operations all run smoothly. The company is mining Helium-3 which is abundant on the moon, but also happens to be the magic bullet to solve Earth’s energy crisis. His only company is the on-board computer GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey), as there is no working communications link with Earth. Sam has a three year contract to work alone on this isolated moon-base; so what happens if he is seriously injured, or gets ill? Not a problem, because as it turns out, Sam is a clone and there are plenty of copies of him waiting in stasis to carry on operation of the mining facility. Of course, he doesn’t know this.

So, Sam has an accident while driving one of the lunar Rovers and a new Sam is woken up, told he’s recovering from an accident and his memory has been affected. We find out about the clones when new Sam goes to investigate the Rover crash site and finds old Sam in a bad way, but still alive. Sam(s) then embark on a journey of self-discovery, helped along the way by GERTY. Although he is initially keeping up the ruse that Sam is human (and, we discover, has been doing so for many years and through several Sam clones); with the clone’s increasing self-awareness GERTY actively helps Sam escape back to Earth, just as a rescue ship arrives to investigate the crash involving old Sam.

This really is Sam Rockwell’s film. Apart from a few video messages from Lunar Industries executives (including the fantastic Matt Berry), recorded messages from his wife and a call to his daughter, there is really no other cast. He plays the role of Sam in a very calm way. Compared to, for example 127 Hours, (also a one-man film), Sam Bell is very accepting of the situations he finds himself in (apart from when he crashes); presumably all traits that would be selected for when considering applicants for a three-year solo contract on the moon. Even when the two Sams are trying to figure out what the hell is going on, he rarely freaks out. I’m reminded of Morpheus telling Neo that he accepts what he’s seeing because he expects to wake from a dream at any moment. Though Sam Rockwell is excellent, his performance is very understated; it’s quite different from the dynamic performance of James Franco in 127 Hours, or Daniel Day Lewis in There Will be Blood, both of which I would consider are “their” films; just as Moon is Sam Rockwell’s film.

Moon takes a lot of inspiration from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Sam (Dave) is alone on the moon (orbiting Jupiter) with no way to communicate with Earth. His only companion is GERTY (HAL), though where HAL takes control of Discovery forcing Dave to disconnect him, GERTY is very benign (though initially I wasn't sure). Orchestral music is played over some of the exterior moon shots, and there is even a homage to Dave entering the obelisk on Sam’s returns to Earth when everything gets really trippy. None of this detracts from the movie at all, rather it enhances it.

                                              HAL never had a holder for coffee cups

A great film, and very impressive given that it was Duncan Jones’ first film (Source Code is his second); I can’t think of anything I disliked about it at all. A very interesting story, all of the special effects look fab, and Sam Rockwell is great (did I say that already?).