Often these days films don’t give their audiences time to absorb what going on before barrelling into their next overblown visual extravaganza. Moon harks, in many ways, back to a more calculated era where the story onscreen and its dark doppelganger in our own minds were allowed to evolve at a more natural pace.
Sam Rockwell gives a stunningly rich performance as Sam Bell, a man whose three year tenure manning a mining operation on the moon has two weeks left to run. The toll of isolation has left him physically and mentally frayed, and so, when an unexpected accident changes everything, he’s ill-prepared to cope with the altered reality of his true existence.
I refuse to spoil this movie for those that haven’t seen it, because where they take what starts out as a relatively simple idea is both unexpected and involving.
Rockwell is in frame for almost the entire 97 minutes of the movie, and sells the highs and lows of his character with every fibre of his acting soul. His only tangible support comes from Kevin Spacey as the HAL-styled artificial intelligence GERTY, whose soothing monotones are as constant as the Northern star.
If the story and narrative come from a bygone age of film, the visuals also draw on a rich seam of science fiction film history. The interiors of the base have a very 2001 and Silent Running feel, mixed with a Ron Cobb-inspired Alien penchant for fine detail. There are subtle nods to those movies and the collective works of Gerry Anderson, and other cerebral science fiction material, such as Solaris and The Andromeda Strain.
The moon provides an eerie backdrop to events, although the same isolation could have been created with a remote artic outpost or deep underwater location. The silent nature of space and the lack of any movement other than Sam and GERTY undermine the apparent reality, leaving the viewer in a constant dilemma to decide where reality starts and ends.
In space no one can hear you scream, but you’re rarely short of a moment alone with yourself.
I’d like to think there are some Oscar nominations in this title, but, traditionally, the Academy hates movies that are set in space or make you think. So it’s kyboshed on both fronts, really.
As you might reasonably expect with such a recent production, Moon looks pristine on the Blu-ray transfer with no obvious artefacts in the darkest lunar skies. It’s presented in the original 2.39:1 ratio, and with the DTS-HD Master audio track that was mixed for release.
There are two other audio commentary tracks, one that includes the writer/director Duncan Jones with support from the concept designer Gavin Rothery and production designer Tony Noble, and the other, which is also Duncan Jones but this time with producer Stuart Fenegen. The second of these is actually the one to appreciate, as the first is a little too freeform to follow on occasions.
They’ve also got a couple of short (16 and 11 minutes, respectively) featurettes, The Making of Moon and Creating the Visual Effects. But the most interesting additions are two Q&A sessions from the Sundance Film festival and a Houston screening where the team gives insight into how this film got made.
The final item on there is short film Whistle, made by Duncan Jones, which I presume he used to convince people to fund Moon
By other summer releases, that’s not a great range of additional material, but then some of those films will have spent more on their featurettes than the $5 million this movie cost to make.
My only concern is that, other than the HD presentation, there isn’t anything on here which isn’t on the DVD version, although given the limited resources available, that’s understandable. However, I’m not sure this movie has much repeat viewing in it, and if you only intend to watch it once then you might want to save yourself the difference. Myself, I’m glad this is in my collection, even if I’m not in a rush to watch it again immediately.
Get Moon on Blu-ray at the Den of Geek Amazon Store