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"One of these Days, Alice, Pow!" Moon review

 

Moon

Finally, after years of memorable secondary performances and quirky leads in indies, underrated journeyman actor Sam Rockwell gets a film all to himself. Of course, he has to be sent to outer space to get it. In Moon, Rockwell follows the footsteps of former co-stars Tom Hanks(from Green Mile) and Nicolas Cage(from Matchstick Men) by attempting to do one better, carry a film with a solo performance like Hanks did in Castaway while playing two characters like Cage did in Adaptation. This off the radar sci-fi from Duncan Jones has the charismatic Rockwell play Sam Bell, an engineer/Astronaut sent to the moon to run the power plant and harvesters that use the Sun to generate energy for the whole world all by himself(this Energy Corporation apparently runs on a low payroll). With his three year contract about to expire, the very tired and lonely Bell spends his remaining time running on a treadmill, nursing his plants, carving miniature wood sculptures of his hometown, and watching delayed video feeds from his wife Tess and newborn daughter Eve. Bell converses with his robot assistant GERTY(voiced by Kevin Spacey), a sort of benevolent brother to HAL with the same monotone voice, but unlike his evil counterpart, Gentry is one devoted droid with a smiley face on it's monitor eager to please his slightly annoyed master.

Desperate to go home, Bell begins to have a series of bizarre dreams about his wife and him in bed while he as he tires to reach out to her from underneath the blanket. His already vulnerable sanity is fractured more when he begins to see a teenage girl sitting on his desk. Trying to keep composure, the disturbed cast-off is more than willing to investigate the condition of an apparently malfunctioning harvester. While he drives his mover around the lunar surface, another hallucination distracts him and causes him to crash under the haywired harvester.

Bell wakes up in his station, and with the confused stare of a newborn, repeats his feat of fixing the now stuck harvester under the protest of his bosses and GERTY. Bell, who doesn't seem to remember that he had done this before, gets away from the station to repair the erratic crop machine. He gets closer to the buried mover, similar to the one he is driving, and sees a man is trapped inside it. It is him. Shocked and angry, Bell inquires to GERTY but instead of answers he gets a rather laid back doppelganger he sternly reproaches. The two Bells struggle with each other while they try to learn who is the real Bell, if they both are Bell, or is there is something else being hidden from them?

Duncan Jones helms a kind of atmospheric sci- fi with a solid score and music video-like visuals reminiscent of young director. The film touches the current topic of alternative energy with a somewhat plausible premise while exploring the everlasting callous nature of corporate functionality as well as a tale of self evaluation and existence while also being a conspiracy thriller(thew! Never thought I would finish that sentence). The problem with the movie is that never touches any of these subjects head-on, and like it's hero, wanders in space trying to find an identity. Jones is so focused on the movie looking good that all the things he tries to say feel segmented, so it's never clear if his aim was to make a pure, abstract sci-fi story or a straightforward thriller, since it moves too slow to be thrilling and too fast to be introspective. However, many of these things are in the backburner thanks to Sam Rockwell. He gives meat and character to both men, one a very passive Bell while the other Bell holds all of his aggression. Hopefully, Rockwell will get another crack at stardom with his role in next summer's Iron Man 2, a franchise that made Robert Downey Jr. into a superstar. As for Moon, don't put much thought on it and enjoy it for what it is, a beautifully shot film with plenty of interesting but half executed ideas, showcasing an underrated actor deserving of this shot many moons ago.

Images:

Trailer:

Official website:

Moon

Credits:

Directed by: Duncan Jones
Written by: Duncan Jones, Nathan Parker
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey





Source of the Bitter: John Rojas

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