The critical response on Moon generally runs along the lines of: “A return to real sci-fi!” and some praise for the lead and nearly sole actor in the film Sam Rockwell (Clownhouse). While the film certainly recalls the glory days of “hard” sci-fi films like 2001 it is difficult to take it too seriously when the film’s big reveal doesn’t make a terribly large amount of sense. To discuss this further, there will be spoilers, so let’s dispense with the non-plot elements of the film and general reviewing.
Sam Rockwell delivers another in his long line of excellent performances as Sam Bell, the sole inhabitant of a mining station on the Moon, which harvests the element needed to produce clean fusion energy on Earth. Sam is nearing the end of his tenure on the station and longs to return to his wife Tess (Dominique McElligott) and infant daughter Eve, who he only sees through taped messages. The satellite up-link is down and greater communication with Earth is impossible. The loneliness and isolation are affecting Sam and he begins seeing things-or is something bigger going on?
As stated, Rockwell is excellent, as is Kevin Spacey (See No Evil, Hear No Evil) as the voice of GERTY, Rockwell’s computer and robotic assistant, whose creators made less HAL-like with a small screen for emoticons. The film looks great despite a tiny ($5 million) budget, with just enough effects and sets to suspend our disbelief and an economical set-up that limits the number of sets and actors. First time feature director Duncan “son of David Bowie” Jones delivers us a wonderful performance from Rockwell and some great visuals. This is definitely a must-see for sci-fi fans, even though there is one major fault with the film, which is the script.
SPOILERS after the trailer
While hyped as being a return to intelligent sci-fi, the sci-fi side of things mainly serves to give us a mega dose of “WHAT A TWIST!” and “heavy thoughts about what it means to be human via the dilemma of clones”. So Bell is a clone. Okay, fine. It’s hazardous up there, probably hard to get people to sign on at a reasonable rate, and perhaps a remote is too unreliable. What seems silly, though, is that they don’t create a clone when they need one-they have seeming thousands of them sitting in storage. This seems like a very strange misappropriation of resources, which seems to defeat the “cost” angle. Would it really be that hard to get people to sign up? Is it so different from lighthouse keepers and solitary monks? Perhaps the clones are somehow cheaper to feed and house, but all evidence points to the idea that they mostly function like us (though they do seem to expire rather quickly when their time is up, so perhaps they aren’t quite fed like humans). Since they’re still shipping their product to Earth, it just seems more like a vehicle for speculation on the state of being alive and on the moral issues involved than it does a logical or necessary process.