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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 28.85%
Just Average: 3.85%
Pretty Crappy: 7.69%
Sucks: 5.77%

4 reviews, 28 user ratings

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by Peter Sobczynski

"Space Oddity"
5 stars

A few weeks ago, some of you may recall, I gave a review of “Star Trek” that was not entirely salutary. This did not exactly endear me to a lot of people--I will merely state that I haven’t been called “douchebag” that many times since prom--but in reading the complaints, I noticed that the majority of them seemed to focus just on the fact that I gave it a bad review and never delved into the reasons why I didn’t like it in the first place. My chief complaint was that while the old incarnation of “Star Trek” tried to appeal to the intellect of its viewers with episodes that offered up moral and ethical questions alongside the aliens and fight scenes, the new incarnation largely jettisoned those elements, not to mention the traces of humanity that resulted from their presence, in order to jam in more special effects and battle scenes. The fact that none of the people who complained about my review ever touched on this angle upset me for two reasons--partly because it suggested that they didn’t even finish reading the review but mostly because I had the perfect rejoinder if any of them were to ask me to give them an example of just such a film. That would be “Moon,” an absolutely fascinating new sci-fi film that, like such grand examples of the genre as “2001,” “Blade Runner” and “Dark City,” is as concerned with inspiring (and eventually blowing) the mind with heady ideas as it is with dazzling the eye with splashy special effects. Throw in one of the more assured directorial debuts in recent memory and a truly audacious lead performance from Sam Rockwell and you have one of the best films of its type to come around in a while, the kind that even those who don’t normally watch such things will find absolutely fascinating.

In the not-too-distant future, science has figured out a way of alleviating the energy crisis by discovering a way to harvest a clean energy source from the rocks found on the moon and the Japanese corporation Lunar has figured out a way to make money off of it by sending single astronauts off for three-year stints manning the mining operations. Currently, that post is held by Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), who runs things in a smooth and efficient manner with only a robot named GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey) as his only companion. As the story opens, Sam has about two weeks left on his contract before he is due to be rotated home and while he has done a good job, he is more than eager to return home to his wife and young daughter. It is at this point, however, that strange things begin to happen to Sam--he begins to have hallucinations and when he goes out on a retrieval mission, he cracks up his vehicle and wakes up in the infirmary with GERTY ordering him not to go outside the base under any circumstances. Of course, this only raises his suspicions further and when he senses that GERTY is not telling the truth about certain things, he decides to sneak out of the craft and investigate for himself.

It is at this point, which comes roughly 20 minutes or so into the film, that I must stop giving even the slightest description of what happens next because a great deal of the initial power of “Moon” comes from the surprises that it has in store. Instead, I will tell you that director Duncan Jones (who also came up with the original story) and screenwriter Nathan Parker have created a brilliant story that fuses together two distinct approaches to the sci-fi genre--the trippy intellectual type embodied by the likes of “2001,” “Solaris” and “Blade Runner” and the more industrial, blue-collar version seen in things like “Alien” and “Outland”--into a fascinating single variant in which each take unexpectedly complements the other. I will tell you that Parker’s screenplay pays homage to any number of classics of the genre while cleverly using our knowledge of said classics to make us think that things are going to go one way before spinning off in new and highly unexpected directions. I will say that Jones, making his directorial debut, does a very impressive job of telling an increasingly complex tale in a simple and direct manner while also demonstrating a keen visual style that grabs the eye without resorting to expensive special effects to grab attention. (The film was shot for around five million dollars and looks as if it cost at least ten times that amount.) In fact, Jones--who, as you may or may not know, is the son of David Bowie--shows himself as being so adept as a genre filmmaker in only his first feature outing that I would suggest that if 20th Century Fox has any brains or taste whatsoever and can’t get Ridley Scott to sign on as director, they should hire him as soon as possible for that “Alien” prequel that is currently being discussed--based on his work here, I suspect he could knock that potentially dodgy project out of the park.

The only problem is that the one non-plot aspect of “Moon” that I cannot say anything about, for reasons that will be abundantly clear when you see the film, is the amazing work done by Sam Rockwell. Of course, the notion of him being capable of giving a great performance will come as no surprise to anyone who has seen him before in movies as varied as “The Green Mile,” “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” and “Snow Angels” but even the complexities of those roles more or less pale in comparison to the immense technical and emotional challenges provided by this part. In the hands of most actors, this kind of role would have been approached primarily as an attention-getting stunt and nothing more but Rockwell goes for something deeper and more truthful here and pulls it off with such success that you may find yourself forgetting about the certain element that I am trying so hard not to reveal. Beyond that, all I am going to say is that if someone handed me a voting ballot for any of the year-end awards right now, I would have no problem marking him down for every slot in the Best Actor category.

I’m sorry if I haven’t been entirely forthcoming about the particulars of “Moon” but it really is the kind of film that is best experienced with as little advanced knowledge as possible, though I can easily see it standing up to many repeat viewings as well. While most attempts at the genre of late force you to shut off your brain in order to enjoy or at least tolerate them, this is the rare example of the genre that is smart and thoughtful and not afraid to show it. Although I realize that this is little more than a pipe dream, it is my fervent hope that everyone who trudged out to see “Star Trek”--or at least the people who assailed my review--will make a similar effort to go see “Moon” as well. After all, if they finally get a load of what great science-fiction looks like, perhaps they won’t settle so easily for the junkier stuff in the future.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=18247&reviewer=389
originally posted: 06/18/09 23:58:53
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2009 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2009 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 CineVegas Film Festival For more in the 2009 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Philadelphia Film Festival For more in the 2009 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Seattle International Film Festival For more in the 2009 Seattle International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Edinburgh International Film Festival For more in the 2009 Edinburgh International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/30/16 morris campbell overrated bore skip it 1 stars
3/28/16 Aj wales Dreary overated. Story poor. What was the whole point. 2 stars
4/07/15 Vaselir 5031f06cb9aaf10295a17fca86ac0644 3 stars
11/15/14 Rashad What's the last date I can post this to to arrive in time for Christmas? <a href=" h 4 stars
10/23/14 Jonathan We work together <a href=" ">buy bimatoprost overnight free delivery</a> The economic slo 2 stars
6/13/12 Josie Cotton is a goddess Slow but good 4 stars
10/19/11 Magic This movie beats other sci fi movies with five times its budget. Rockwell's acting. Whoa. 5 stars
6/11/11 Merle It is a great movie to put you to sleep. 2 stars
4/21/11 Ace-of-Stars My only complaint was waiting for Sam to share his more grim discoveries, which never came 4 stars
2/28/11 Captain Slog My favourite sci fi movie of all time. Great soundtrack too 5 stars
2/11/11 Ionicera Amazing performance by Sam Rockwell but leaves too many plot strings dangling 4 stars
11/20/10 mr.mike The miniatures looked fake , distracting from a good story. 3 stars
5/12/10 Dave Bowman Rockwell's performance was pure cinematic Gestalt. 4 stars
4/05/10 erik if you fell asleep, you need a brain. 5 stars
3/11/10 daveyt loved the seamless normality, Rockwell's on top form 4 stars
2/18/10 Craig Brilliant. A must see. 5 stars
1/31/10 Langano Best film of 2009. 5 stars
1/15/10 Sevarian Excellent all across the board 5 stars
11/19/09 DsTiOSo Hi! rQheRkx 1 stars
8/13/09 thejames good soundtrack, entertaining, ends too soon. 4 stars
7/13/09 damalc excellent; like "2001" without the pretentiousness 4 stars
7/13/09 Suzz don't miss this film if you like great sci-fi 5 stars
6/26/09 Tim a challenging sci-fi posing so many pertinent questions in such discreet fashion 5 stars
6/22/09 Toni Awesome! So much to like abt the movie - the emoticon on GERTY was genius 5 stars
6/20/09 Ming sorry this film make me falling asleep..not much exciting happening 2 stars
6/17/09 jurisprudence man this sucked 1 stars
6/17/09 george ljjhKW bkwPpwvo03NXzw47jvGa 4 stars
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  12-Jun-2009 (R)
  DVD: 29-Dec-2009


  DVD: 29-Dec-2009

Directed by
  Duncan Jones

Written by
  Nathan Parker

  Sam Rockwell
  Kevin Spacey
  Matt Berry
  Kaya Scodelario
  Benedict Wong
  Malcolm Stewart

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