Sam Rockwell in Moon
"Moon represents a return to a more sedate and thoughtful science fiction of the Seventies and Eighties."

Somewhere in the not too distant future, mankind’s energy problems have been solved courtesy of Helium-3 mining on the far side of the Moon. A lone astronaut, Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), serves as maintenance man on the mining installation in charge of automated harvesting machines that rove the lunar surface. For company, Sam has an accommodating Robot named Gerty (Voice of Kevin Spacey). Coming to the end of his three-year tour of duty and anxious to get back to Earth and his wife and daughter, Sam is coming a little unglued. During one fateful excursion to fix a malfunction, he suffers a breakdown causing him to crash.

After the accident, Sam becomes aware of just how complicated his life really is, and at this point, Sam Rockwell’s performance goes into overdrive as he channels the character’s incredulity and horror.

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The hippy-dippy Sam, cooing to his plants and making slightly unhinged video logs at the outset, taps both Silent Running and Dark Star, with Gerty standing in for 2001’s HAL. Sam’s instability then encompasses hallucinations of a mystery girl and his wife, who we know through a series of pre-recorded missives. This Solaris-like development is also a red-herring.

Moon represents a return to a more sedate and thoughtful science fiction of the Seventies and Eighties with ambience borrowed from a multitude of other films in the genre. Although having established a reference, the film gleefully subverts the expectation, particularly in the use of the soothingly voiced Gerty.

As with Alien and Outland we come to realise Sam’s employer, the company, may not have his best interests at heart and when Gerty announces they are sending help, and the clock starts ticking down their arrival time - we know that can’t be good.

A pause here for a nod to the special effects, Cinesite have provided the movie with effects so good that you quite forget you’re watching them. The six-wheeled rovers trundling over the lunar landscape will provide a happy nostalgic thrill to any anorak who sat glued to Thunderbirds, UFO and Space 1999. I presume that writer/director Duncan Jones was a fan too.

Despite all the filmic references, Moon works hard to defy expectation and succeeds admirably, so like a good detective story, just when you think you have a handle on it, you probably don’t. Unlike many recent sci-fi titles, the emphasis is on character rather than the production design or razzle-dazzle effects and Moon is all the better for it.

Reviewed on: 18 Jan 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
Stephen Carty ****
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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