This is a film that’s taken me two attempts to watch it. The first time, I found myself dozing, so switched it off. Ironically this was right before it starts to get really good. Not that anything before that point, before the big reveal, is rubbish. Far from it. I guess as much as I try to fight it, being fed on a diet of fast paced, CGI fuelled blockbusters creates certain expectations.
Maybe if someone hasn’t crashed a car through a window, or back flipped over someones head and kicked them in the arse in slow motion, I switch off. But when Moon is viewed as a whole, it creates an appreciation for the groundwork that’s been laid before the twist. It's a film that's worth the effort.
Sam Rockwell is an astronaut at a point in Earth’s future, a lone worker in a largely automated station located on the dark side of the moon. Along with a Kevin Spacey voiced supercomputer, he makes sure that the mining of Helium-3 — used for clean fusion energy back on Earth — runs smoothly.
There’s problems from the outset, when Rockwell, cut off from Earth for nearly 3 years, starts suffering from hallucinations. But the really big problem starts when he’s out on the moon’s surface, and crashes his rover into one of the Helium-3 harvesters. If you haven’t seen the film by now, I’ll stay tight lipped on plot details from hereonin.
Having said that, even if you know the twist going in, like I did, it takes nothing away from the film. Unlike, say, The Sixth Sense, Moon’s story is one that moves beyond it’s big reveal to be something more. This is thanks to thoughtful, unflashy direction by
Zowie Bowie Duncan Jones, and an excellent mood building score by Clint Mansell. Most of all, it’s thanks to Sam Rockwell.
Other than Kevin Spacey’s supercomputer chirping in the background, and brief scenes where he talks to family, he has to carry the entire film by himself. And he does a remarkable job, holding the attention for the whole running time. Angry, sad, depressed, funny, I could go on all day ticking off the Big List of Actor’s Emotions™, because Rockwell nails them all, and with great subtlety.
There are times when I was genuinely moved by Rockwell’s predicament, and Moon is a great reminder of what seems to have been lost in recent times: the science fiction movie that touches us (or even at the very least, tries to) on an emotional level, a film that doesn’t rely on a bag of CGI explosions and cliches to wow us.