Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Movie review: Moon

It's some time in the future.  Our planet, after decades of famine, war and dependence on fossil fuels, is now fed, cared for and using HE3, a clean fuel source that is found in abundance on the dark side of the moon.  It's even easily mined: one man is all it takes to keep the mining equipment running and the fuel heading back to Earth at regular intervals.  Now, it's not all tea and cookies for this one man - Sam Bell - since he is all alone in the mining company's depot.  Sure, he's got reruns of classic television shows to watch and is whittling a scale model of his hometown; he's got a treadmill and free weights; he can talk to his houseplants and GERTY, the mining company's computer, who is actually a pretty good conversationalist.  But the communications antenna array is broken and Sam can't talk live to anyone on Earth, relying on recorded messages from his wife, infant daughter and the mining company bosses. 

It's lonely.  It's extremely lonely and, shortly before his three-year contract is up, Sam starts hallucinating, which causes him to crash his rover into one of the mining machines.  The accident is a bad one and when Sam wakes up back at the base, GERTY hovering solicitously over him, he has no memory of it.  GERTY tells him that a rescue crew will come to clean up the wreck but Sam sneaks out, going back to the crashed rover.  What he finds there is confusing and disturbing and calls first his sanity, and then reality, into question.

Sam Rockwell plays Sam Bell and is a tour de force in this tight little (97 minute) science fiction flick.  Rockwell is practically the only live actor ever on the screen - GERTY is voiced by a smugly sympathetic Kevin Spacey (who makes an excellent robot) and Sam's wife is shown only as a recording or a flashback.  Rockwell is awesome as Sam's mind and body start to deteriorate, carrying the whole movie.  Although there is very little that can be called "action," Moon catches and keeps your attention easily.  A very nice genre piece - definitely worth your time.

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