Review

Harry looks up at the MOON and wonders if it will save us!

Published at: March 10, 2009, 6:46 a.m. CST by headgeek

This year's SXSW is loaded with high quality films that many of you will want to immediately write down as something to seek out when the opportunity arises. MOON is one of those that you should immediately take note of. This is the first feature film of David Bowie's son, Duncan Jones. Duncan's first feature is not a vehicle for his father, but as I watched it - there was a part of me that thought about how had this film been made in the Seventies, Bowie could have very well found himself playing the lead character... which in our age is being played by Sam Rockwell. MOON premiered at SUNDANCE where the buzz wasn't necessarily stellar, something that often time occurs in a festival that has become increasingly concerned less with talking about the quality of the films, their ability to entertain and make people think... and has instead drifted into a realm of comparative commerce. Which film could play to the most people? An attitude that often means that a genuine jewel like MOON can slip one by. Luckily, Sony Pictures Classics looked closer and MOON and found it quite worthy of acquisition... and have brought it to SXSW to reposition the film. They had an advanced screening for local critics a week or so back - and I was lucky enough to attend. I found MOON to be a fantastic tonal combination of films I love like SILENT RUNNING and OUTLAND. The film isn't reliant on CG for its effects, but the old school world of Models - and GOD BLESS THEM! This film looks fantastic. What is MOON about? Well, it's about a man named Sam Bell - played by Sam Rockwell. Sam is a lunar miner working in a fairly automated mining effort on the moon. It seems that science, when faced with the energy crisis that had hit Earth in the latter part of the 20th Century and threatened to derail society at the head of the 21st Century... well Science struck gold with a substance known as HELIUM 3 aka H3 - which can be mined remotely on the surface of the moon. This substance is extremely powerful and creates a peaceful prospering utopia on Earth. But poor ol Sam Bell, he's a guy stuck on the Moon in a 3 year contract mining to provide power for the whole of humanity. And he's all alone. The corporation that placed him there hasn't even fixed the Relay Communication satellite that would help with Real Time Communication, so now - he gets essentially Video Emails. Now Sam isn't quite alone on this Mining base, he has the company of the Robot/Computer system that is programmed to assist Sam and help him in his endeavors on the Moon. This Automated Helper is voiced by Kevin Spacey. I know - I had the same reaction. WHO IN FUCK'S SAKE WOULD HAVE SPACEY VOICE AN ALLEGEDLY BENEVOLENT ARTIFICIALLY INTELLIGENT BEING? Spacey's voice gives me a wicked case of Heebie Jeebies - and the mere fact that it was Spacey made me constantly doubting the AI's true purpose. It is all Kubrick's fault really. Bastard made me cynical about all artificial intelligence's true nature. Here, you'll wonder again and be delighted at the story's choices. Suffice to say, something goes terribly wrong just a short time before Sam is supposed to head back to Earth and things get incredibly fucked up. The classic staples of paranoid Science Fiction are all in place. Doubt Reality, Question Perceptions and Authority - and lastly... FUCK CORPORATIONS! They definitely do not have an individual's best interests at heart. Everyone at this early screening loved the film. Rockwell carries this film on his shoulders - and Duncan Jones does a superb job of balancing this updating of the 70s Science Fiction aesthetic for a modern age. If you're in town for SXSW, do not hesitate to line up for this one, it is extremely worthy!

Readers Talkback

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  • March 10, 2009, 6:50 a.m. CST

    First?

    by twisted_lullaby

    Sick.

  • March 10, 2009, 6:51 a.m. CST

    Indeed you are

    by Finchy

    Well done, Squire!

  • March 10, 2009, 6:56 a.m. CST

    A new sci-fi...

    by Finchy

    A new sci-fi made with good ol' fashioned models and sets gets a thumbs up in my books. 2001 and CE3K still look gorgeous today. Nothing's inherently wrong with CGI, but it should be used only as a last resort.

  • March 10, 2009, 6:57 a.m. CST

    I don't know...

    by wampa 1

    ...but it sure smells good!

  • March 10, 2009, 6:57 a.m. CST

    4th!

    by Dead_Geek

  • March 10, 2009, 6:57 a.m. CST

    5th!

    by Dead_Geek

  • March 10, 2009, 6:59 a.m. CST

    Also

    by twisted_lullaby

    Is the title of this article another not-so-subtle homage to a line from Watchmen? Give it a rest big man...

  • March 10, 2009, 7 a.m. CST

    That's no moon! It's a battle station!

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    M-O-O-N...that spells "battle station".

  • March 10, 2009, 7:10 a.m. CST

    Did Zowie Bowie change his name to Duncan?!?!

    by seppukudkurosawa

    Or is this a different son?

  • March 10, 2009, 7:19 a.m. CST

    I've got this on my schedule for the first full day

    by Shepard Wong

    of the Philly Cinefest. This is one I was already looking forward to. Glad to here some positive buzz around it.

  • March 10, 2009, 7:20 a.m. CST

    I--

    by DrunkyMcLush

    --can't wait to see this movie! I know all about the whole story, unfortunately (believe it, or not some fuckers on the internet like to spoilers with no warnings), so no surprises will be coming my way in terms of plot :( but I'm sure I'll be in for surprises in terms of the emotional nature of the movie and the performances.....

  • March 10, 2009, 7:23 a.m. CST

    Sounds interesting...

    by Kid Z

    ...supposedly the moon actually is chock full of, not cheese (sorry Wallace, Grommit), but Helium 3 and this would constitute a cheap, virtually unlimited energy source IF, (always a GD "if" ain't there?) it didn't cost so FN much to travel there, mine the stuff and transport it back. Nice to see a science fiction film base it's premise on actual, real world science, though. My only gripe would be that Duncan should've cast dear ol' dad as the AI. Bowie's a non-human intelligence already, anyway. Would've been perfect.

  • March 10, 2009, 7:29 a.m. CST

    By God, Tom Cullen better post on this thread

    by Shut the Fuck up Donny

    as this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for him.

  • March 10, 2009, 7:29 a.m. CST

    I guess we should have seen this coming

    by seppukudkurosawa

    from the son of the guy who wrote Life on Mars and dressed like a giant transexual alien.

  • March 10, 2009, 7:40 a.m. CST

    Yeah man, it sounds really old school and cool!

    by sonnyfern

    Plus Sam Rockwell is just amazingly entertaining. Wanna see this!

  • March 10, 2009, 7:42 a.m. CST

    Here's the link to the Chaos review

    by seppukudkurosawa

    (and, more importantly, the talkback): http://www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=24309.

  • March 10, 2009, 7:43 a.m. CST

    Heh wrong thread

    by seppukudkurosawa

    That's what happens when you post high, kids.

  • March 10, 2009, 8:10 a.m. CST

    Battle station? BATTLE STATION?!

    by Fawst

    Jesus FUCK! GET THE QUOTE RIGHT!<br><br>You remind me of a guy. A guy I don't know. A guy who, at the end of a Star Trek film marathon (Motion Picture through Undiscovered Country), stood up after Kirk says "First star on the right..." and shouted "AND STRAIGHT ON TIL MIDNIGHT!!!" and then Kirk on the screen goes "...and straight on til morning!" And EVERY. ONE. BOOED.<br><br>Join me now, as I boo you, sir. BOO!

  • March 10, 2009, 8:37 a.m. CST

    SPAY-C one-ups Bumblebee

    by spacehog

    Upon their triumphant return to Earth, the giant Spacey-bot squats and releases a torrent of gears, washers and motor oil all over the CEO of the evil MoonCutter Corp.

  • March 10, 2009, 8:38 a.m. CST

    Also: FLAG ON THE MOON.

    by spacehog

    HOW DID IT GET THERE?

  • March 10, 2009, 8:59 a.m. CST

    The Moon is Sort of a Harsh Mistress....

    by Dr Lisa Cuddy

    Heinlein light, anyone? Libertarian nerds will not stand for this, man.

  • March 10, 2009, 9:18 a.m. CST

    David Bowie

    by Series7

    Has genitalia?

  • March 10, 2009, 9:33 a.m. CST

    The "proverbial good science fiction movie"?

    by Royston Lodge

    Is this the "proverbial good science fiction movie" that Stanley Kubrick was talking about when he started working with Arthur C. Clarke on 2001?

  • March 10, 2009, 9:35 a.m. CST

    And to think . . .

    by Royston Lodge

    . . . I JUST downloaded The Ice Pirates. I bet this would make a good double-bill! JUST KIDDING!

  • March 10, 2009, 9:42 a.m. CST

    The movie is great and really ambitious for a debut

    by Lovecraftfan

    Why its ambitious is because of its main conciet in the 2nd half which I can't ruin here. It also looks like a several million dollar film. Just gorgrous particuraly the models on the moons surface. The movie also shows once again why Sam Rockwell is just fantastic. Saw it at Sundance.

  • March 10, 2009, 9:43 a.m. CST

    And another thing . . .

    by Royston Lodge

    . . . I really think that way more young filmmakers should take a chance and try making good low-budget sci-fi using models. The free computer software that is out there right now really makes traditional model fx very economical. I just started playing with the Gimp Animation Package, a 10-year-old video camera, a green piece of bristol board, and a few Star Wars toys. I've been able to assemble some not-quite-awful space scenes, and in HD to boot! With just a little imagination and elbow grease, it would not be inconceivable for a "real" filmmaker to do the FX for an entire feature using nothing but models and Gimp. Screw CGI. My plan is to send to some test footage (once I've got the technique a little better) to a few of the no-budget filmmakers in my town to see if they might wanna try doing a no-budget short sci-fi film.

  • March 10, 2009, 9:49 a.m. CST

    What's Matt Berrys role in this?

    by TheFunkyEnigma

    And my friends, if you do not know who Matt Berry is, then you have not truely lived...

  • March 10, 2009, 10:05 a.m. CST

    William Daniels should be the voice of the AI.

    by Royston Lodge

    Hehehe...

  • March 10, 2009, 10:30 a.m. CST

    FUCK CORPORATIONS!?1

    by reaganjn

    Thats REALLY ironic Harold. You just love movies that attack corporations. BUT YET it has been proven you have gotten kickbacks from the very "big evil" corporations you attack! THAT is the very definition of hypocrisy. You fat piece of hollywood shit. Go ahead and ban this account asshole. Ill make another one. So much for free speech huh?

  • March 10, 2009, 10:33 a.m. CST

    Thanks Harry!

    by AustinBeerGeek

    I saw 'Moon" on the list for SXSW and thought it was a must see. I had the same expectation that it would be in line with "Silent Running" (a fav of mine). Unfortunately I will not be able to see it at SXSW, as I am working a shift at the same time at the Ritz. Thanks for the write up, I will definitely see this when it opens in theaters.

  • March 10, 2009, 10:35 a.m. CST

    Thanks Harry!Throwin some love for Outland

    by ScottinDC

    Harry - thanks a ton for throwing some love out for Outland. I rewatched it last night (about the 10th time I've seen it). While not perfect, this movie was FAR better than many of its kind and remains smart and entertaining even now. Peter Boyle's performance still blows me away. Definitely not his usual role. Frances Sternhagen was suitably salty and fun. And James Sikking was fantastic as Deputy Montone...very understated role that didn't get enough credit (I bet he hasn't played raquetball ever since).

  • March 10, 2009, 10:40 a.m. CST

    THE MAN IN THE MOON TRIED TO FUCK MY SISTER!!!

    by 1978CreepyThinMan

  • March 10, 2009, 10:49 a.m. CST

    I saw it at sundance

    by nomimes

    I saw this film at sundance and it really was a good film - Sam Rockwell plays the part extremely well and although I agree with Harry about Spacey's voice being creepy, even Spacey's voice was well utilized. Overall it is a great movie I will definitely want to see again with friends.

  • March 10, 2009, 10:59 a.m. CST

    M-O-O-N THAT SPELLS MY COCK IN YOUR ASS!!!

    by 1978CreepyThinMan

  • March 10, 2009, 11:58 a.m. CST

    AND THE MOON WILL REPLY....NO!!!

    by zooch

  • March 10, 2009, 12:20 p.m. CST

    Yes Seppuku, he was Zowie....

    by Big_Bubbaloola

    but now he's Duncan Smith!<p><p>Talk about rail against your dad for being a coke fiend whilst naming you. I'm surprised he didn't go with John Smith!

  • March 10, 2009, 12:21 p.m. CST

    been looking forward to this one

    by Gungan Slayer

  • March 10, 2009, 12:54 p.m. CST

    How many free backstage passes did this studio give you?

    by SomaShine

  • March 10, 2009, 1:01 p.m. CST

    Hey Harry, are they growing *PLANTS* on the moon?

    by Bill Brasky

    here's to Bill Brasky!!!

  • March 10, 2009, 1:16 p.m. CST

    Sounds awesome

    by David Lazarus Long

    ...but I'm going to keep working on my script for The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

  • March 10, 2009, 1:29 p.m. CST

    What, no deadly aliens skulking the hallways?

    by MrMysteryGuest

    This ain't a video game? Crap!

  • March 10, 2009, 2:42 p.m. CST

    Screening.

    by Thall_Joben

    Went to see this about a week ago. Loved it. Duncan is a talented guy who's performed a minor miracle - namely made a decent, beautiful sci-fi flick for a tiny budget. Not a hint of Red Dwarf to be found anywhere. Just a quality cinema experience from start to finish. I'll be buying it as soon as it arrives on Blue Ray. The best sci-fi flick I've seen in YEARS. The big boys could learn a lot from this film.

  • March 10, 2009, 2:47 p.m. CST

    "What is MOON about?"

    by TheContinentalOp

    That's what I wanted to know. Too bad it took like 300 words to get there. No one actually cares about festival politics, Harry. We care about movies.

  • March 10, 2009, 3:26 p.m. CST

    "Did I say Flag on the moon yet...?"

    by Nasty In The Pasty

  • March 10, 2009, 4:35 p.m. CST

    Bloody-disgusting has videos

    by Veraxus

    Bloody-disgusting.com has videos... including the creepy Spacey-bot. This movie looks fucking fantastic... like the movie I was expecting Sunshine to be until it got all retarded in the last act. We'll see.

  • March 10, 2009, 4:41 p.m. CST

    Bloody-disgusting.com has videos?

    by quantize

    Link? couldnt see it on the main page...there IS a lot going on there!

  • March 10, 2009, 4:45 p.m. CST

    ...link

    by quantize

    http://tinyurl.com/d2gcjk more useful than this site, that's fo sho!

  • March 10, 2009, 4:48 p.m. CST

    looks most xlnt...liked the music too

    by quantize

    !

  • March 10, 2009, 5:22 p.m. CST

    So he's a clone..

    by Wrecks

    ..that doesn't know he's a clone, lives for 3 years and is replaced by another clone... at least that's what I've gathered from clips and summaries. Besides that basic plot device... It looks bleak and haunting.

  • March 10, 2009, 5:48 p.m. CST

    rewatched Silent Running recently and.. well...

    by Maniaq

    Bruce Dern is a giant DOUCHE! <p> in my faded memory I had always held up this ONE movie as an example of Bruce Dern NOT playing a complete and utter bastard - and you know what? On revisiting that classic, HE'S A COMPLETE AND UTTER BASTARD! <p> Even to his only friends, the robots - in fact, one of the actual humans reached out to him plenty but he was even a dick to him, ultimately playing the supreme dirtbag move and... well.. maybe you haven't seen it, so I won't spoil it... <p> btw Helium-3 is real, tho I do believe it's He-3 (H-3 would be HYDROGEN-3, which is also real - I think it has a funky name, too? apprently there's a Hummer that uses it?) <p> -oh, and they reckon there could well be plenty of Helium-3 on the moon and it could well be the BIG energy source of the future but, of course, the only problem is that NASA is bankrupt and has to beg the Russians every time it wants to send up an astronaught and there's this whole doubt about whether they even went to the moon in the first place... <p> the good news is the CHINESE are going there about two years from now, so maybe we'll find out once and for all

  • March 10, 2009, 5:50 p.m. CST

    do I dare rewatch Outland??

    by Maniaq

    I could well find out Sean Connery was a douche! <p> was Outland the one with the benevolent computer system they called "mother" - or am I thinking of Alien? they had a benevolent computer system, right?

  • March 10, 2009, 8:08 p.m. CST

    Fucking loved SUNSHINE...

    by BurnHollywood

    ...If only because it had the most heroic character ever put in a film. Cillian Murphy's Capa is fully and unquestionably doomed, no reprieve, no refund, but still busts his ass to get the job done.<p> Oh, and it also got the effects of hard vacuum correct...you turn into an ice cube, not a blow-up doll. Stupid OUTLAND.

  • March 10, 2009, 10:09 p.m. CST

    sounds

    by torpedoboy

    interesting

  • March 11, 2009, 8:28 a.m. CST

    @ TheContinentalOp & Wrecks

    by Thall_Joben

    "It looks bleak and haunting" & "What is MOON about?" It isn't really bleak, it has it's sad moments but it's all mixed up in an enjoyable package with enough drama and humour to avoid Solaris syndrome. Moon is one of those films where it's very hard to do it justice in a write up. It doesn't have the kind of plot that's easy to sum up without underselling it. It could be like telling someone Star Wars is "a film about a farm boy and his dad". All I can say is this: I can't remember the last time I saw a 100% decent sci-fi flick that didn't either:- dash my suspension of disbelief with it's obvious visual effects, or make me cringe with it's occasionally awful dialogue. Moon pulls both these things off with style. Just go see it when you get a chance and be pleasantly reminded of how classy and grown up sci-fi can be. AT LAST!

  • March 11, 2009, 9:31 a.m. CST

    Sunshine

    by Fat Lenny

    If this is anywhere close to being as good as Sunshine, I'll be a happy sci-fi geek. Sunshine was an amazing fucking movie...

  • March 14, 2009, 10:49 p.m. CST

    Get it?! Kevin.... SPACEY???

    by 35MinutesAgo

    Me. Fucking. Neither.

  • March 17, 2009, 10:55 p.m. CST

    saw this saturday...

    by mikemikemotorbike

    it's awesome. Totally awesome.

  • March 19, 2009, 6:23 p.m. CST

    Rocket Man

    by oisin5199

    this sounds like Space Oddity meets Elton John's Rocket Man. 'Burning out the fuse, out here alone.' Except it's Mars, not the Moon in the song.

  • March 25, 2009, 4:16 a.m. CST

    Why Britney is dating at richpassion.com?

    by iamalice1

    So does some other celebrities,Hilton,sheen,Macdonna...are dating online too,but i am not sure which site they are using...

  • April 10, 2009, 8:56 p.m. CST

    It's Castaway in Space!, & wtf do you see stars when ur on the m

    by Orionsangels

  • April 10, 2009, 8:56 p.m. CST

    oon

    by Orionsangels

  • April 15, 2009, 10:28 p.m. CST

    Wha?

    by orcus

  • July 18, 2009, 9:42 p.m. CST

    I absolutely loved it.

    by Norm

    I found it the best hard sci-fi I've seen in a very long time. I'll put it right up there with 2001 and Alien. The feel of the film is how I always want my sci-fi, it just feels right. Loved the twists and turns, loved Spacey. And finally an intelligent sci-fi film. The tech felt real, that we could actually build it, that we will build it. I highly recommend it to all fans of the genre.

  • July 19, 2009, 7:42 a.m. CST

    New Horoscope

    by orcus

    Your moon will be rising and your pants will be falling

  • July 31, 2009, 2:25 p.m. CST

    Moon, erm, Rocks!

    by Dromosus

    Best film of the year so far for me. Sam Rockwell really gets to show what he can do as an actor, his performance drawing you in and making you believe in what is happening more than any ILM money shot could. So much here works, the film is stock full of ideas, though there is just enough ambiguity too. Moon also has a huge heart, it involves the viewer emotionally as well as intellectually. Most of the times I've left the Cinema this year I've felt disappointed, especially after taking the critic's word that I was in for something great. Moon didn't just live up to the word of mouth hype, it left me with a feeling that I was lucky to be on this planet as I made my journey home, and that was a journey through Brixton...