Posted by schnolis on July 14th, 2009 filed in Reviews

MOONMoon is a better than average science-fiction film that works fairly well despite not being able to explain away the logical holes in the story. Sam Bell (played by Sam Rockwell) is just finishing up a three-year contract maintaining a mining facility on the dark side of the moon. He’s ready to get back home to his wife and child, who he has only been able to talk to via taped messages since the live connection to Earth was lost years before. His primary duty is gathering canisters of fuel from harvesters that run continuously and shipping them to Earth for Lunar Industries. He spends idle time watching old television reruns, jogging on the treadmill, playing ping-pong, and carving intricate miniatures with a magnifying glass and scalpel. His is a contempletive existence, which has mellowed the angry Sam into a more mature and well-adjusted person.

Before he’s finished his time, though, strange things start happening to Sam. He’s become more brittle. He has periods where he cannot focus and has even begun hallucinating. When he crashes a rover into one of the harvesters, things don’t look good. Even after GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey) patches him up, things aren’t quite copacetic. Sam goes out to find out what’s wrong with the harvester, only to find someone who looks just like himself, barely alive, in the wreckage. GERTY doesn’t provide any answers, so the two Sams work together to reason out what’s going on. They conclude they must both be clones, activated when the old clone no longer worked.

This is where the film begins to go someplace interesting. The relationship between the clones is touching and awkward. Initiaully neither one wants to admit he is the clone. This leads to a few scuffles and confrontations. But the older Sam has experiences the younger Sam doesn’t, and even though their common memories of before are set, they are two different people. They each learn from the other, and quickly adapt to the unexpected. The question of whether clones deserve to be treated as humans clearly comes into question. What makes someone a person, worth of respect and individual freedom? What are the ethical and moral implications of creating another person, and then deceiving them through more technology? Our society is headed in this direction, faster than we’re able to keep up and answer those difficult questions. This is what good science fiction does, and Moon is certainly that.

What I liked: The stunning lunar landscapes and perspectives. The set of the station was really cool and was a great locale for the story. Sam Rockwell did a terrific job, too, in a subdued near solo performance that I think is potentially award worthy. The tech was gritty and simple, almost like something extrapolated and envisioned in the Apollo lunar landing era for what the middle of the 21st century would look like.

What I disliked: Trailers ruined the enjoyment of much of the movie for me. I suspected many of the plot twists from the very beginning, just based on the scenes in the trailer, which I saw easily a half-dozen times. While I understand that it wasn’t the whole movie, I don’t think I got enough out of the bits that I hadn’t already deduced to make it really worth seeing. Some of the logical holes in the story are larger than I can easily overlook. Why was the cost of the clones so cheap? Why couldn’t the robots do remotely everything the human did in the film? If they produced so much cheap energy on the moon, why couldn’t they afford to send more people and technology up?

Rating: 7 of 10

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