Popped of to the pictures the other day to catch the film Moon while I was trying to kill some time waiting for a train and thought I’d do a little review on it.
I don’t go to the cinema a great deal which is a shame but I’m rather glad I dropped in to see this film on nothing more of a basis than having seen a trailer for it a few weeks previously and thought it looked interesting.
A brief synopsis of the film pretty much goes like this. Sam Bell, played by Sam Rockwell is the sole resident of a mining installation called Sarang on the moon where he generally keeps all the automated harvesters (they really do resemble like combine harvesters) running smoothly while they plough up and collect ‘Helium 3’ from the lunar surface which is a revolutionary energy supply that has solved the Earth’s energy problems. His routine follows driving out to pick up the canisters and then shooting them off back to earth.
He’s coming to the end of a 3 year mission where he has only had a robotic companion Gerty (voiced by Kevin Spacey) for company and can look forward to returning to Earth to see his wife and 3 year old daughter when things start getting a bit strange.
That’s about all that can be said about the plot without giving anything away and there’s a great deal of other things of note in the film so I’ll go through the main components of what makes a film special.
We all have things we look for specifically in films that attract us. For some it’s the way the actors interact, for others it’s the scripting. Personally myself, I’ve always been a bit of a cinematography kind of guy which may in some way be attributable to a bit of a background in light engineering, or quite possibly not.
In the case of Moon I was pretty impressed. We’re not talking about a film with a huge budget, we’re talking a low budget British flick here but it’s done extremely well. There are probably only around half a dozen actual sets in the moon base that are used for filming but the usage of those spaces with the camera are well done. As are some beautiful camera panning work. Although it was a little strange at first and I’m moving more into the realms of special effects but the film has effectively already started before the credits are finished at the beginning. We know the usual routine is some introduction section, possibly involving landscapes or a generated background but the way various people’s position and names were superimposed onto various wall panels I thought was a particularly nice touch even though they were still appearing as the film was obviously already underway.
If we move on to special effects and sets in general then there’s some really good stuff but just a few seconds of the film don’t quite clinch it convincingly. If we’re talking the internal sets then there’s a lot in there that wouldn’t look out of place as a mixture between Kubrick’s 2001 – A Space Odessey and Red Dwarf series 3 onwards (when they got a new set). It does however work wonderfully and there’s nothing in there that would make anyone think that a mining station on the moon wouldn’t look like that. When the film switches to external shots, lunar landscapes, the harvesters and the ‘rovers’ for lack of a better descriptive word that Sam uses to travel about in then there’s a few slips. Think Red Dwarf series 1-2 and you’re not far off the style that you’ll experience. That shouldn’t in any way be taken as a criticism, it’s just the style which is very well executed. However there are a few seconds in the film when little things like how you would expect the interaction between the rover and lunar surface taking into account the differential in gravity that it just doesn’t quite look right and gives that “I’m looking at a model here aren’t I feel”.
As I also used to dabble a bit in the old sound engineering I do like a good score to a film and in the case of Moon, it’s not disappointing. The vast bulk of which takes the form on simple piano music to set the various scenes with perhaps only one instance where I felt it was a little overdone. It is also notable the one (I think) exception to this which is the introduction of a bit of a track by Katrina and the Waves which represents possibly the funniest scene in the film. That said, this is a rather serious film so there’s not much that’s funny in it apart from possibly the varying smiley faces (we don’t call them acid men anymore do we) on the digital display of the robot Gerty.
Acting wise there’s not much to really mention as the film has (barring the odd flashback to Earth moment and the very long distance telephone call scene) effectively only one actor in it and he plays the role brilliantly.
After catching the trailers I’d thought there’d be more interaction between Sam and Gerty in a sort of patient therapist kind of interaction but Gerty doesn’t play such a central role and hense there’s not exactly a massive amount of dialogue to analyse coming from Kevin Spacey. This film is first and foremost about one single character and I quite like that as a bit of a change from the usual run of the mill movie.
That’s about it for Moon apart from I’m going to do a bit more but it will involve spoilers but you’ve been forewarned about it so if you haven’t seen the film don’t scroll down. If you have or don’t mind then do scroll down. Final point. Go and see it, it’s good.
Moon – Review (this section contains spoilers, do not read if you don’t want to know various bits of the plot that could ruin the surprises or outcome of the film)
As I noted, I’d expected a lot more of the interaction between Sam and Gerty but upon actually seeing the film, you realise it’s the interaction between Sam and Sam which at first has you wondering whether you’re just seeing him going a bit mental and imagining things through to the realisation that there’s something a lot dodgier going on involving cloning.
I like the way almost from the outset of the film you can tell something is not quite right from in particular, the slight glitches in the recorded transmissions from Sam’s wife back on Earth. The way there is a certain element of mistrust in the Gerty robot character right up until the end of which the ‘kick me’ post-it note touch was good.
Things that I didn’t understand about the film:
This is a one man lunar station – why the hell does it have a ping pong table?