Sam Rockwell in Moon
"Prolonged isolation, alienation, what it means to be human, these existential themes are all chewed on and will have your mind spinning for days afterwards."

Even after seeing Moon, you’d be forgiven for not knowing what to think of it. Is it an easy watch? Not at all. Does it require bags of concentration and ask a lot of the viewer? Very much so. Is it a slightly-weird, old-school style sci-fi whodunit (or, more accurately, whoareyou)? Too right. Will it be viewed as a modern classic in a few years? Quite possibly…

Aboard a lunar mining station, astronaut Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is alone aside from an artificially intelligent computer system (voiced by Kevin Spacey). Unable to communicate with Earth, Sam is approaching the end of a three year stint and looking forward to going home so he can see his wife and baby daughter. However, after hallucinations and deteriorating health cause him to crash his space rover, he awakens in sick bay to find he is not alone.

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In his feature debut, Ducan ‘son of David Bowie’ Jones crafts a motion picture small on scale (shot in 33 days on a $5 million budget), but bursting with simple ideas and he should be applauded for his approach. Obviously inspired by the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien and Outland, Jones’ space oddity (apologies) takes the admirable old-fashioned sci-fi approach of being ‘about something’.

With a sedate pace, moody ambience and incredibly impressive retro-style effects (George Lucas, you should be taking notes), it’s much more like a low-rent Sunshine than anything in the Star Wars/Star Trek canon. Aided by an eerie score, clinical interiors and a general emptiness, the claustrophobic atmosphere and impending sense of dread are palpable.

Okay, so it’s not quite the second coming most are proclaiming it as and there are flaws (too little dialogue, the opening is tough to get through), but for choosing thought-provoking ideas over CGI and explosions, Jones should be given a knighthood. Prolonged isolation, alienation, what it means to be human, these existential themes are all chewed on and will have your mind spinning for days afterwards.

As the voice of the computer system Gerty (clearly modelled on 2001’s HAL 9000), Spacey is a great choice, but still this is essentially a one-man show. Largely the only man on screen, Rockwell is up to the mammoth task asked of him and will likely be the subject of much deserved praise. We don’t really sympathise with him as much as hoped for, but he holds everything together well.

Your average cinemagoer (the kind that loved Transformers 2) will be bored to tears, but anyone who favours intelligent movie-making will be – ahem – over the moon.

Reviewed on: 19 Jul 2009
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An astronaut starts to lose the plot at the end of a mission to the moon - but is there something else going on? Plus read our exclusive interview with
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Read more Moon reviews:

Andrew Robertson ****1/2
Tony Sullivan ****1/2
Nick Da Costa ****

Director: Duncan Jones

Writer: Duncan Jones, Nathan Parker

Starring: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey, Matt Berry, Kaya Scodelario, Benedict Wong, Malcolm Stewart, Dominique McElligott, Robin Chalk

Year: 2009

Runtime: 97 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK

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