Posted by: da_nibbler | September 4, 2009

Review: ‘Moon’

I just got back from watching Moon and am quite surprised with my reaction(s) to it. At first I was disappointed, but after letting it sink in while driving home I realized I was only let-down in one regard. A major one. But everything else was top notch and more than makes up for its shortcomings.

The hauntingly appealing premise of having one man on the moon to supply the rest of the world with energy opens this psychological experiment of a film. Sam Rockwell takes us through his standardized day while already laying the detailed groundwork for the breakdown later on. He is on a three-year contract all by himself with only a robot to keep him company. It doesn’t take long for things to go out of the ordinary and pit man against robot and man against himself.

I don’t want to give too much away, but one of my initial fears plot-wise was that the robot was a new HAL (see 2001 – A Space Odyssey for reference). Thankfully that turned out not to be true. Unfortunately everything else I thought would happen did come to pass. The plot is laid out before your eyes as soon as Rockwell’s character hits his first major bump. It could have been a good, solid story if only there was a bit more meat to it than was actually in the film. The resolution(s) is quite a let-down, utterly predictable after the first 20 minutes (if only winning the lottery was that easy). This film would be fantastic if it had a smack-over-the-head factor as Soylent Green did. There was no “aha” or “wow” moment when all was revealed and that took away a lot of the appeal of this film.

With that out of the way let me gush over the chilling yet stunning visuals of the lunar surface. The claustrophobic vastness in its bleak shades of grey really get to the viewer and we can imagine what life for the protagonist must be like. The interior set design is just as great and thought-through, yet won’t dazzle everyone with its simplicity.

The real treat in this film is Sam Rockwell’s performance. He truly shines in what is essentially a theater play. Two people, one set. The story lives off the dialogue and its characters. When I say two people I am definitely counting Kevin Spacey’s voicework as the robot (okay, maybe the robot is just half a person). He is the only counterpart to Rockwell’s character and a full-fledged character in his own right. You forget he is just a robot after the first few encounters between them.

Rockwell’s character goes through ups and downs as he is going through the last two weeks on the job before getting to go home after three years. Not trying to give anything away, but it is in the second half of the film that Rockwell really shows his brilliance. The stages his character goes through in isolation, faced with a mystery aboard his station, deteriorating while trying to hold on – his no-holds-barred performance is the heart of the entire film.

My initial disappointment turned into appreciation and even excitement especially where the acting is concerned. This film lives off Sam Rockwell’s Oscar-worthy performance. He makes this one-and-a-half-man-show a must see. Just don’t expect any surprising plot-twists or huge revelations you didn’t already see coming from lightyears away.

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