At the Movies with Alan Gekko: Moon “09”

MPAA Rating: R/ Genre: Sci-Fi/ Stars: Sam Rockwell, Dominique McElligott, Kaya Scodelario, Benedict Wong, Matt Berry, Malcolm Stewart; Voice of: Kevin Spacey/ Runtime: 97 minutes

I feel that is must be said that the Moon that circles our planet has to our greatest creative minds always been an object of both awe and enigma. This may be because this is one celestial object that is far away, but closer than anything else to us in the solar system. Not only that, but while we as a species have been to the Moon, there is still a huge amount that is a complete mystery to us. Yet there is another fact that is also integral to topics of this nature. That is the fact that enigmas and ice-cold facts aren’t that far removed from one another. Indeed this is an aspect that director Duncan Jones chooses to utilize to great effect in his sci-fi tale known as Moon. Indeed as much a tribute to sci-fi films from the 60’s through the 80’s as much as its own thing Moon is a chance to see what it would look like when this generation finally nailed just what it is about the sci-fi genre that makes both so iconic and so incredible at the same time thus making for one absolutely phenomenal viewing experience.

The plot is as follows: Set in a future where mankind is able to travel to the moon with more ease than currently possible, Moon follows a man by the name of Sam Bell. Bell is an employee for a company known as Lunar Industries which is known for harvesting a substance known as “Helium 3” from the lunar surface. This is also a substance incidentally that, in this movie’s future, is what contributes at least 70% of the total energy across the planet. Yet even though he has had to be alone whilst based at the company’s lunar outpost and tasked with ensuring that the harvesting equipment stays working, Sam is also 2-weeks shy of the end of his 3-year stint on the moon which will see him reunited with his family back on Earth. Yet with the base’s Comm systems going screwy, Sam has slowly begun seeing things and individuals that aren’t there with him. However disaster soon strikes when, one day while traveling inside a lunar rover on a regular assignment, Sam has a collision with one of the harvesters and finds himself waking up in the med clinic in the outpost where his sole partner of sorts, an AI that has been given the distinction of GERTY, proceeds to tell him that he has managed to acquire a severe case of trauma due to the accident. However, it is no spoiler to let you know that as Sam embarks upon the road of recovery while also trying to figure out what is going on with himself, he also finds himself uncovering something else entirely. Something that will change how Sam sees not only himself, but also force him to question just what he knows about the people he works for as well as the people he loves the most….

Now it is my honest opinion that this film manages to be a perfect poster child for just how strong the minimalist-style of filmmaking really can be when properly executed. Indeed due to possessing a layout that is both slightly boring but practical, a single yet not quite expansive main shooting location, and also special effects that are utilized sparingly but effectively, this is a film therefore which must depend not on how the film is viewed, but instead on how it chooses to make the audience feel, its ingenious script instead of a lot of action beats, and some powerful performances instead of a visual effects department in order to triumph in a film-going world where what this movie considers to be positives are usually looked at as just prerequisites for success in bigger films. Indeed this is a film which really brings back to life that kind of movie making which was propelled forward by an incredible story with only some truly remarkable work from the special effects department, and an eerily persuasive near-future setting for the story being what sets this apart from other masterpieces of the sci-fi genre made in the past. Indeed the fact that this movie is a thinking and patient individual’s kind of sci-fi rather than the brand which is action-based and inpatient especially when direction is concerned might be quite startling to the movie goer who isn’t used to that kind of science fiction. However, should a movie goer be willing to come to terms with this film’s way of doing things, they will also find that this pays off by providing them with a true movie marvel that, despite presenting an audience with significantly more questions rather than answers, is a truly remarkable odyssey not only into a man’s heart and soul, but an analysis on the very nature of humanity itself.

Now this film’s concept-based and calculated narrative design is astonishingly not once a road block that the film’s pacing has to overcome. Indeed this is one movie which manages to keep a spellbinding fix on its audience from beginning to end, but especially as the narrative manages to peel back its layers and start revealing solutions to the mysteries while slowly, but surely making its way to a narrative third act that is truly spellbinding and also manages to insert a few actionesque elements as well as a sense of frantic into a cinematic stride that is for the remaining 95% of the runtime a truly scrutinizing and premeditated affair. Indeed much like the surface of where this film takes place, Moon is a chilly film that has a landscape that although a challenge to investigate is also endlessly intriguing to travel around. Indeed this is a film which takes moviegoers on an engaging odyssey that is just as much a detailed examination of society as showcased by the concepts contained in the movie itself of being alone, being abandoned, hopes dashed, befuddlement, materialism, veracity, ramifications, and manipulation. Indeed I cannot honestly think of that many movies which has created a narrative structure and taken what could have been a shallow narrative, cast of players, and more in-depth concepts and tied them all together in a method that is both easily as well as three-dimensionally portrayed as it is in this film. Indeed this movie is quite in-depth, intriguing, and also very insightful material plus most certainly the kind of work that actually requires more than one sit through as well as in-depth thinking about the many concepts and discussion-worthy questions presented in the movie. Indeed “What truly makes us human?” & “How are we meant to begin, and how are we meant to conclude?” These are questions that this movie chooses to ask, and slowly but surely puts in possible answers into the overall narrative though, as always with such theoreticals, these are always better answered when each individual comes up with their own interpretations on everything that this movie brings to the table.

Finally, I also strongly feel that this film manages to possess some absolutely fantastic acting work that really helps enhance just how much this feels like an ode to the classic sci-fi films of yesteryear. Indeed, as pretty much the acting cornerstone that this film is built upon, Sam Rockwell manages to provide audiences with an absolutely phenomenal turn in this movie as the lead and, for about 95% of it, only physical actor on screen. Indeed much in the same vein as the film itself, his performance is quite a showcase for the pondering and thought-provoking design that the movie itself utilizes. Not only that, but his portrayal of an everyday guy who finds himself embroiled in a eerie situation as well as how he is ultimately affected by what he manages to discover is portrayed to uneasy excellence and is a wonderful job that is just as amazing as the movie in which it is rooted in. The other main character in this film is one that we never see in the flesh, but rather only hear. This character is Sam’s AI companion known as GERTY and he (?) is brought vividly to life by Kevin Spacey. Indeed as the voice behind the machine, Spacey manages to provide this cousin to HAL with a one-note, deadpan, and modest dialogue-driven characterization that is only balanced out by a tiny range of emoji-esque smiley faces that actually showcase more in regards to GERTY’s genuine motives as well as quirks and that’s not even beginning to cover just how brilliantly how much the AI truly knows is showcased through opportunely shown faces of contentment, befuddlement, confidentiality, and remorse respectively.

All in all Moon is a member of a unique, but darn near extinct species of film. By that I mean this is a genuine piece of sci-fi art that manages to showcase not just the cosmos, but also the deepest abysses that can exist in a person. Indeed this may be a movie that takes place on another celestial body, but its very roots are embedded in the middle of that notorious element known as the human condition which along with the human soul is easily just as foreboding and as much of a mystery as the moon in and out of itself. Ultimately though, this is a film that is not only a inner look at just what makes us human, but also a look at a person’s conflicts with both isolation as well as uncovering some truly horrific secrets and also a commentary on how even though humanity has evolved in many ways, one way we still need to work on is really connecting with our fellow man on a heart to heart level. Suffice it to say then that Moon really truly is sci-fi cinema when it manages to be at the top of its game and as such audiences are all the more blessed that we are still able to get movie magic just like it. On a scale of 1-5 I give Moon a solid 4 out of 5.