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Wick's Review

Created Jun 29, 2009 07:51PM PST • Edited Sep 26, 2013 12:49AM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Really Great 4.5

    The best SciFi movie in recent memory, this under-titled triumph features a brilliantly conceived concept, wonderfully realized visuals and Sam Rockwell’s superior performance. Thrilling and thought provoking, the movie credibly creates a world where a solo lunar miner satisfies Earth’s insatiable energy needs, the human cost of this endeavor becoming fascinating and horrific as the movie progresses from a slow start.

    The miner spending three years on the dark side of the moon gets played for a sap by Lunar Industries, his employer back on Earth. Fishy from the outset, the scale of deceit unfolds slowly, becoming devastating – and intellectually provocative – as the movie reaches its second reel.

    MOON is inevitably being compared to 2001: A Space Odyssey given that each uses a talking computer. Fine, but four decades have passed since Kubrick’s cultural phenomenon hit the screen. Enough already. Sentient machines have long been the wave of the future. Let’s stop comparing them to HAL 9000.

    As for the dull and non-evocative title, was Men on the Moon taken? How about Me, Myself & Me? In any case, plain old MOON sure as hell doesn’t get it done.

    This truly great movie deserves cult classic status, which is about all it can hope for given its useless title, poor poster and minimal promotion.

  3. Great 4.0

    Sam Rockwell, Best Actor of the Summer so far, delivers a performance of the highest order as the apparently stir-crazy moon miner. His character’s various incarnations allow this terrific actor to demonstrate sardonic archness, tender nerdiness and virile masculinity, the first of these recalling how he played the ranting Nixon hunter in Frost/Nixon. Once the summer’s over, he deserves a statuette or at least a nomination for this role.

    Dominique McElligott jumps off the screen as his luscious wife, even though she’s seen only in video mail and the occasional flashback (pictured in the WikChip). Sounding like she’s from Ireland and looking like she’s from Victoria’s Secret, she makes the most of her brief time on screen. A newcomer, one suspects she’ll get many more roles after her memorable turn here as the living pin-up who keeps hope alive for her man on the moon.

    The great Kevin Spacey ably – even wonderfully – voices the butler-like robot Gerty. Patented emotional control playing here as ambiguity, Spacey’s performance stays perfectly calibrated to the limited emotive range of this instant classic robotic character.

  4. Male Stars Really Great 4.5
  5. Female Stars Great 4.0
  6. Female Costars Very Good 3.5
  7. Male Costars Very Good 3.5
  8. Really Great 4.5

    Duncan Jones jumps to the first rank of writer-directors with this richly conceived and cleverly executed debut. Accomplished as a music video and TV commercial director, he has created a feature film full of thrilling intrigue, moral ambiguity and technical fascination. Jones deserves more and larger movie commissions after this triumph.

    David Bowie, Jones’ dad, famously had his first major hit with Space Oddity, the classic ode to spacey alienation that began “Ground Control to Major Tom.” Inspired by Neal Armstrong’s moon landing as well as Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, the father must have passed along a lunar fascination to the son.

  9. Direction Perfect 5.0
  10. Play Great 4.0

    The script’s repetition of incidents and lines creates a mesmerizing effect just this side of annoyance, while emphasizing the banality of life for the man on the moon.

  11. Music Very Good 3.5
  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0

    Outstanding visuals, especially for a $5 million budget.

    The opening commercial slickly sets the stage for the world and life changing story, while the moon base and machines look convincingly workaday and real.

    Gerty, the robotic butler, works especially well. His sole changing feature – an emotively dexterous Happy Face icon – is a bit of understated genius, especially when paired with the Great Spacey’s line readings.

    In short, this is an instant icon of SciFi visualization.

  13. Content
  14. Risqué 1.6

    Mild, yes, but still creepy and claustrophobic.

  15. Sex Titillating 1.6
  16. Violence Fierce 1.7
  17. Rudeness Polite 1.5
  18. Glib 1.7

    Impressively natural as SciFi movies go, the science behind MOON seems not entirely unreasonable nor far off. Sadly, the ethics on display seem within the bounds of human capacity as well.

    The easiest engineering to accept is the lunar mining of Helium-3 to fuel clean fusion power back on Earth. This idea turns out to have reasonable underpinnings, as described in the Scientific American article Is MOON’s sci-fi vision of lunar helium 3 mining based in reality? Also on point is the Wikipedia entry on Extraterrestrial Supplies of Helium-3.

    Cloning – its feasibility and ethics – underlay the movie’s more intellectually provocative SciFi concepts. Let’s count a few of the questions that are begged.

    1. Can humans be reliably cloned so that each “awakes” fully formed with a lifetime of training, values and memories in place?
    2. Why would such clones only have a lifespan of three years?
    3. Do clones have the same value as non-cloned humans? For instance, is killing a clone murder?

    My answers: No, To Serve the Story, and Yes. Why yes? The reason we are humane to non-humans (e.g., pets and livestock) is so we don’t coarsen ourselves. Selectively bred or not, we’re all God’s creatures.

  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.2
  20. Biological Surreal 2.1
  21. Physical Glib 1.8


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Apr 12, 2015 5:18PM

Regarding BrianSez’s Review
So happy you got to MOON Bri and that you thought it was really great.

Feb 6, 2010 2:57AM

Regarding Wick’s Review
Great review, Wick, I gotta look for this one.