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Moon, by Marion DS dreyfus

April 24, 2009 |

Along the Popcorn Pathway


Directed by Duncan Jones' Reviewed by Marion DS Dreyfus

Starring Matt Berry, Robin Chalk, Dominique McElligott, Sam Rockwell, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin Spacey, Malcolm Stewart, Benedict Wong

After the sci-fi stylings of "Silent Running," the (1980?) Bruce Dern favorite of a solo human caretaker on a faraway planetoid, "Moon" is a workmanlike little entertainment that, for only $5 million (basically bubkes, in today's hyper-inflated film making costs), and 33 days' shooting, delivers suspense, human interest, not a few slams at the rapacious mega-corporation. In "Moon," we are in the near future, living off a huge and fecund form of energy, Helium-3, mined and delivered to Earth by a solo caretaker on base Sarang, to the ever-thirsty earthlings. Lunar Industries, which, while a 'green' company, still manages to exploit its worker(s), lie, finagle their Comm-Sat so messages are endlessly delayed, meaning only tapes are sent, not live. (This is getting a tad old, guys: Maybe the next slew of films can slam ne'er-do-wells, slackers, people who grow air ferns?)

With Sam Rockwell as Sam Bell, sole supervisor of mining, coping and transmitting, is GERTY, played by a creepy Kevin Spacey (when isn't he creepy?) a sentient anthropomorphic voice-helper robot: We are in the turf of HAL, from "2001." Rockwell is an attractive, sturdy, empathic actor, one who has been largely wasted in vehicles beneath major filmdom's attentions, chiefly the negligible "Choke." He manages to people the film (in several roles) as well as Tom Hanks did in his bravura island "Cast Away" (2000) stint.

After his 3-year contract is all but up, why can't the talented, lonely base-manager rejoin his Earth wife, Tess, and his 3-year-old daughter, Eve? His health declines, he sustains a near-fatal accident in his lunar rover, and he suddenly notices another guy in the base station, one who looks uncannily like himself.

Our very first love was sci-fi, after comic books, so this film harkens back to our first heartthrob. "Moon" brings a futuristic sensibility into the pragmatic utilitarian. The evil corp. Lunar is an absentee ogre, but plays its role inconspicuously throughout. The moonscapes we see are nicely done-especially on such an asteroid's budget-but more interesting for viewers are the clearly puzzling aspects of his new technical reality; Bell, unassisted by GERTY or the new guy, tries to figure out what's going on, whom to trust, and why that other guy is on the scene. If escape is your hatch, when the lights go down, "Moon" gives the liftoff you expect, ensconced in that dark seat.

marion d s dreyfus 20(c)09


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