Winner of the 2009 award for Best Use of Chesney Hawkes in a Movie
I've said before that some of the best films, games, whatever, are the ones that come out of nowhere. The ones that have no real hype or build-up about them. Unsurprisingly, I've always had a fondness for them, since, as we all know, I'm one of those freaks who likes to (and occasionally has to) wander off the beaten track for his entertainment. I hadn't actually heard of this film until I read a glowing review of it in Bizarre (still the only major review of the movie I've personally encountered), and while the magazine's gone downhill of late, it's entertainment reviews are still usually on the money, so I decided to check it out for myself.
Sam Rockwell plays Sam Bell, a miner on the far side of the moon. Sam lives and works alone with GERTY, a robot programmed to observe him and keep an eye on his general well-being. Sam starts having weird lapses, seeing things on monitors, having visions of other people. While out investigating a problem with one of the mining harvesters, he suffers a crash. He awakens some time later back on the base, but is under strict instructions not to leave again. Faking a malfunction in the base, he manages to escape anyway and returns back to the site of the crash. His old lunar rover is still there. More to the point, so is he.
At first, you'd be forgiven for expecting a movie in the vein of Fight Club or The Machinist. You begin thinking it's going to be the tale of a space miner dealing with cabin fever or something like that, before pulling a bait and switch with the second Sam. It's a sneaky move that keeps you guessing past your original conceptions of what the movie is going to be about. To talk any more about the plot would be giving the game away completely, but trust me on this, it's a good one.
Similarly, Sam Rockwell is nothing short of amazing here. Yes, the film is basically Sam Rockwell talking to himself for an hour and a half, but if he wasn't any good, the film wouldn't be anywhere near worth watching. The two Sams manage to have differing personalities, despite being fundamentally the same person. By the same token, Kevin Spacey manages to be weirdly sympathetic as GERTY, despite never raising his voice above a monotone.
Moon is a hard film to talk about, hence this spartan (for me, at least) review. That's mainly because discussing the really stand-out parts, or anything beyond the basic premise, for that matter, means spoiling it, and trust me, this is not a film you want spoiled for you. The other problem with movies like this is that they tend to be slow and ponderous, outstaying their welcome by a good 40 minutes in an attempt at making some vague statement about the nature of humanity. At a mere 90 minutes, however, this is a film that comes in, says its peace, then leaves without incident, and that's probably its greatest strength. It's exactly the right length, and no more, and doesn't try and milk all the emotion it can out of things. And probably for that single reason alone, it stands head and shoulders above all others in its class. Definitely keep an eye out for this film if you get the chance