film review: Moon (2009)

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Moon is a sci-fi film conceived and directed by Duncan Jones. It stars Sam Rockwell as the sole inhabitant of a moon base that serves as the operational centre for a team of helium-3 harvesters.

I started this review in this conventional manner as, in many ways, this is a very conventional film. I hadn’t heard much about this film except that it’s been widely hailed as a return to classic ’70s hard sci-fi. I suppose it is classic sci-fi, but personally I don’t think hard sci-fi has gone anywhere… last I checked it was alive and well in films like WALL·E, Sunshine and Children of Men. But that’s not a criticism of the film, more a criticism of the publicity… and the publicity is relevant, it colours your view of a film just as much as mood or the company you see it in… I try not the let these things affect how I see a film but the fact is, it’s impossible.

There was nothing particularly wrong with this film. I enjoyed it really, as I enjoy most of the films I see, especially sci-fi. But then again I didn’t feel there was anything in this film that I hadn’t seen before. Themes of isolation and abandonment are abound in fiction and this film reminded of quite a few other films I’ve seen… and I should point out that I haven’t seen 2001: a space odyssey or Solaris, the two which a lot of people are referencing in the context of this film.

It was a nice, self-contained, interesting piece of sci-fi story-telling but I can’t help wishing that it was a little bit more. It could have been a longer film, or it could have been a good book; I don’t know, it was too removed, too tidy, I just didn’t feel involved, there was no sense of introspection – which is what I would expect from classic science fiction. I expect to read or watch classic hard sci-fi and think “What would I do?” or “Could we , actually get to that situtation?”, this film didn’t leave me with any of that. Sure, technically you could ask yourself those questions about Moon, but it didn’t bring me to that point and that’s what I was looking for.

I tend to criticise then try to find some nice things to say in my reviews, so why break a tradition? This was a good film and Sam Rockwell puts on a great performance. It’s an engaging enough story and it’s worth seeing if you like classic sci-fi – along the lines of Issac Asimov and Philip K. Dick I mean, as opposed to say, The Terminator or Star Wars.


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