It’s amazing that films like Transformers 2 and Terminator Salvation make truck loads of cash. They’re empty-headed, dull, idiotic movies yet they have mass idiot-appeal and therefore bring the feckless masses into the cinemas to gawp at the screen and marvel at the shiny things and ‘splosions. And then you have a film like Duncan Jones’ Moon. A film that is playing in three cinemas in this country, yet is probably one of the best films you’ll see this year. Have the general public heard of it? Unlikely. It’s a sad indictment of the cinema industry.
Moon takes place, surprisingly, on the Moon. Sam Bell is the sole operator of a mining operation on the dark side of the moon. His three-year stint in charge of the operation is coming to an end, and he is looking forward to returning to his wife and daughter on Earth. However, after an accident involving one of the mining machines, Sam wakes up to find he isn’t alone in the station. The other person in the station is himself.
You don’t need hundreds of millions of dollars in order to distract attention from a badly-written story and hold the audience’s attention. Start of with a well-written screenplay and the audience will forgive all the little mistakes or limitations your budget will have when it comes to special effects. Moon has a brilliantly-written script, effects that involve miniatures instead of computers and a superb dual-performance from Sam Rockwell and it’s a genuinely brilliant film. Along with Sunshine and Children of Men, Moon is the best Sci-Fi film of the last ten years. It’s a film about isolation and identity and yet still manages to have a solid story that keeps you guessing.
Sam Rockwell’s performances as two versions of the same character are integral to what works about this film. I can’t say too much without giving story elements away, but his performances are essentially the same person with major changes, which affect the characters differently. It’s his ability to differentiate between the two characters that really grounds the film. Duncan Jones really captures the mood and feeling of the paranoid sci-fi films of the 1970’s, yet the film doesn’t at all feel dated in any way. Jones writing and directing certainly make him a name to watch in the future.
There’s not much else that can be said about Moon without giving away story elements, so I’ll keep it brief. It’s brilliant. Finally, a film that breaks the monotonous parade of shite that has been this summer’s films. Sci-fi at it’s very best, Moon will be in the top 10 of 2009. It’s a really, really great film.