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  Publicity Stills of
(Courtesy of Cathay-Keris Films)

Genre: Mystery/Sci-Fi
Director: Duncan Jones
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Matt Berry, Robin Chalk, Kevin Spacey (Voice)
RunTime: 1 hr 37 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films and Columbia TriStar
Rating: PG (Some Coarse Language)
Official Website: http://www.sonyclassics.com/moon/

Opening Day: 27 Aug 2009 (Exclusively at The Picturehouse)


Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is nearing the end of his contract with Lunar. A faithful employee for three long years, his home has been Selene, a moon base where he has spent his days alone mining Helium-3, a precious gas holds the key to reversing the Earth's energy crisis. Isolated, determined, and steadfast, Sam has followed the rulebook obediently, and his time on the moon has been enlightening, but uneventful. The solitude has given him time to reflect on the mistakes of his past and to work on his raging temper. He does his job mechanically and spends most of his available time dreaming of his imminent return to Earth, to his wife, young daughter and an early retirement. But two weeks shy of his departure from Selene, Sam starts seeing things, hearing things, and feeling strange. And, when a routine extraction goes horribly wrong, he discovers that Lunar have their own plans for replacing him and that the new recruit is eerily familiar.

Movie Review:

Very few actors of our generation can carry an entire movie by themselves. Sam Rockwell is definitely one of them. “Moon” is essentially Rockwell’s one-man show (although it really is a two-men show since he plays two characters in the film), and it is a movie that works thanks to his magnetic performance(s).

The first character of Rockwell’s we meet is an employee of Lunar Industries called Sam Bell. Sam has spent the last three years of his contract with Lunar working on a moon base in solitude, mining a valuable gas that could very well be the key to Earth’s energy crisis. The end of his contract is drawing near, and Sam eagerly awaits his return back to Earth, back to his wife and daughter. Unfortunately, an abrupt accident leaves him unconscious in his vehicle outside the base.

Rockwell’s other character is also another Lunar employee, a doppelganger if you will of the first Sam Bell. Sam Bell No. 2 wakes up on a gurney in the infirmary and doesn’t quite know how or when he got to the base, until his loyal trusted computer of an assistant Gerty (voiced by Kevin Spacey) explains it to him. Suffice to say that Sam Bell 1 and 2 will meet, and unravel the mystery behind their twin/dual existence.

To say any more would be giving too much of the film away, since part of the joy of watching “Moon” comes from discovering its rather intriguing plot. Like all good science fiction movies, “Moon” spins a story out of an all-too possible reality arising from our contemporary scientific developments, with a thought-provoking ethical dilemma thrown in for good measure. Indeed, it is almost a cautionary tale, one that questions the kinds of sacrifices we have made, and will make, in the name of science and progress, and whether it is all worth it in the end- especially when it is our very humanity that is at stake.

One would think that with his single-minded focus on just two characters (Sam Bell 1 and Sam Bell 2), first-time director Duncan Jones (son of David Bowie) would have enough space to develop this subject adequately. Yet somehow, “Moon” ends up being less poignant than one would expect it to. Part of it has to do with the uneven pacing of his movie, which starts off too languorously and moves too quickly after the middle-mark, leaving little time in between to ponder on some of the issues it raises.

What director Jones and screenwriter Nathan Parker succeed at better is in conveying the loneliness of solitude, a loneliness defined by Sam Bell’s lone existence on the moon. Like Steven Soderbergh’s “Solaris”, “Moon” effectively probes the emotional state of mind of a person adrift in space cut off from the rest of civilisation. Indeed, all Sam Bell has for interaction is a voice from a computer that uses various permutations of a yellow smiley face to express its feelings- if you can regard its programming as such.

And who better to capture Sam Bell’s isolation than Sam Rockwell, who injects a measured sense of lonesomeness and warmth into his character that you can’t help but empathize with Bell. The character actor also does a fine job in defining each of the Sam Bells, each unmistakeably distinct from the other and both a testament to Rockwell’s prowess as an actor.

There’s no doubt that Sam Rockwell is the best thing that “Moon” has going for it, a science-fiction film that is best appreciated as an admirable but flawed attempt by a promising director. It’s no small feat playing two characters in the same movie but the actor better known for playing offbeat characters in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” pulls it off marvellously. His is a performance worthy of some acting nods come awards season.  

Movie Rating:

(Sam Rockwell’s performance alone is worth this trip to the Moon)

Review by Gabriel Chong


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. Star Trek (2009)

. Watchmen (2009)

. Choke (2008)

. Joshua (2007)

. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005)

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