Classic Sci-fi Feel
How appropriate that Moon, the directorial debut of Duncan Jones, son of David Bowie, could be considered a "Space Oddity." I'm probably not the first one to make that joke, but in all seriousness it might be fitting, since Bowie's classic song evoked a sense of weightless solitude that was shared by its film contemporary, 2001: A Space Odyssey, as well as by other science fiction films of that mold, particularly Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris -- and the feelings of those quiet, contemplative films are exactly what Jones is paying homage to.
Sam Rockwell is Sam Bell, a lone employee who has spent three years on the moon monitoring and overseeing the automated mining activities of a large energy company. During one of his investigations, an accident occurs, and the following events are strange and surreal indeed. Moon both follows in the footsteps of its predecessors by examining human responses to unusual imagined futuristic circumstances and delves into that old science fiction standby theme of investigating the nature of humanity itself. However, it also has room to criticize the current direction of humanity with the cynical observation that even with supposedly noble interests and armed with inventive solutions, humans will still find ways to cut ethical corners and damage their fellow man for the sake of economic efficiency.
This film is a lusciously slow trip, recalling familiar old tones while also adding its own unique touches (e.g., it subverts the "evil computer" stereotype with Sam's computer assistant, "GERTY," voiced by Kevin Spacey). Considering how the optimism that both fueled and was engendered by the space program of the '60s/'70s -- and its surrounding artistic responses -- has been squandered in the decades since, Moon's concerns reflect the current pessimism. Still, by endeavoring to be thoughtful science fiction, the movie urges us to return to ideals that once appealed to the public so strongly.
(Released by Sony Pictures Classics and rated "R" for language.)
Review also posted at www.windowtothemovies.com.