Moon’s release coincides with the 40th anniversary of the first moon walk. But instead of celebrating mankinds achievements, the movie casts a dark shadow over them.
The setting: Sometime in the not-too-distant future when humans have burned through a ton of natural resources and have consequently over-polluted the Earth. Science seems to prevail, though, and now everyone on Earth relies on one company and one man to supply the bulk of the worlds energy.
The man is astronaut Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) and the company he works for is Lunar Industries. Sam is nearly through his three-year contract with Lunar, which he has spent in isolation on the moon, gathering the solar energy thats absorbed by moon rocks and launching it back to earth in large capsules. His trusty companion is the computer system GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey), who prepares his meals, tends to his wounds, and monitors the moon bases activities.
Complications begin, naturally, just two weeks before Sam is scheduled to return to Earth. Equipment starts to malfunction. Years of isolation have left Sam talking to his plants. He begins to see things that he suspects are not really there. Will he be able to finish his contracted work before his equipment and his mind fails him?
Moon is a one-man show: Rockwell is for all purposes the only human on the screen for the entire movie. So its fitting that writer and director Duncan Jones emphasizes classic sci-fi elements of psychological warfare that get the audience interested in the situation at hand and emotionally attached to the central character.
Essentially, Moons stripped down nature makes it more of a psychological thriller than the typical sci-fi flicks that appear nowadays. There are no major action scenes, huge explosions, flashy gadgets, nor lengthy explanations of how future technology works. Instead, the movie sets up a skeleton frame and lets the audience fill in the blanks on their own. In fact, this movie could have had the same impact if it had taken place in the desert, in the arctic, or in the middle of the ocean. The setting is ultimately unimportant, although Jones picked a very appropriate place the moon has been associated with craziness (werewolves, lunacy) for centuries.
Moon doesnt resemble modern sci-fi, but it does have a classic science fiction feel to it. There are a few dystopic elements of the future that relate to issues in todays world, like the role of rapidly developing technology and its interaction with the evolution of mankind. GERTY quickly evokes 2001s HAL, but manages to dodge the hackneyed evil computer characterization by the end of the film. As Sam Bell explores more and more of his current situation, it seems like Moon is telling us that the humans behind the technology and not the technology itself are to blame for any indiscretions.
The main plot twists of Moon arrive more towards the middle than the end of the movie. So, rather than being wrapped up in plot mysteries, the audience has the chance to try to understand both Sam Bells situation and his state of mind, an important factor to consider based on his prolonged period of isolation from other people. Character motivation is all too easily dismissed in modern science fiction movies (who cares what the hero is thinking as long hes fighting an army of evil aliens?), so its refreshing to see Moon take sci-fi back to its roots struggling with the human condition.