Intelligent science-fiction is something of a rarity these days, the genre having been overtaken by loud, silly things that focus on technology (weapons, usually) rather than on how humans are affected by it. So, Moon should be enthusiastically greeted by serious sci-fi devotees because it’s a smart story, meant for grown-ups. It doesn’t spell everything out, but isn’t maddeningly ambiguous, either.
It’s set later in this century on the moon, where Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is nearing the end of his three-year stint as the only human employee overseeing machines that harvest the moon’s resources for use back on Earth. After being critically injured while driving the lunar rover, Sam wakes up in the infirmary, tended to by the ship’s robotic computer (voice of Kevin Spacey) but having no memory of the accident. Curious, Sam drives back out to the crash site and discovers that the wrecked rover still has an occupant: himself.
And I will tell you no more! While the film doesn’t rely on twists or surprises, per se, it does reward the viewer by parceling out information methodically and satisfyingly. You might figure out which sci-fi staple is being employed before anyone in the movie uses the word, but it doesn’t matter; the enjoyment is in watching Sam figure it out (and, even more, watching him figure out what to do once he knows).
It’s an impressive feature debut by director Duncan Jones (working from a screenplay by Nathan Parker), both for its stylish production design and its avoidance of clichés. Many filmmakers with much more experience have made sci-fi films far less convincing than this one. Yet for all its technical achievements, the film remains off-puttingly cold. Sam Rockwell, usually so easy-going, seems detached here, so caught up in the futuristic sci-fi milieu that he’s forgotten to be a real person. It isn’t a deal-breaker, though. It’s a film worth seeing—and, perhaps, one that hardcore sci-fi buffs will absolutely love.
Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey