All Moon miners should be required to wear Aviators

I want a pair

The questions about morals raised in Moon are more hard hitting than those in the film adaptation of The Watchmen. It has more science in its fiction than the new Star Trek did. The human drama contained in five minutes of this film is unreachable by anything done in Wolverine or Transformers 2. As of right now, Moon might be my favorite movie of the summer (it’s a tough call between this and Star Trek).

I've got nothin

I've got nothin

Moon stars Sam Rockwell as a moon miner named Sam Bell. The part was written specifically for him by first-time director Duncan Jones, and the movie is a throw back to hard sci-fi films such as Alien and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Sam Bell is in a lunar mining base at the tail-end of his three year contract when things take a turn for the weird. His only company out on that lonely piece of real estate is the base’s robotic caretaker Gerty, voiced by Kevin Spacey. One of the great things about Gerty is that he expresses his emotions through emoticons on a screen. This little trick does so much to add to the robot’s character.

O, Gerty

O, Gerty

Sam Rockwell also does an amazing job as a blue collar guy who starts losing his cool when things start going wrong on the moon base after three years of isolation. The film is carried by his excellent performance since he’s the only character on screen for ninety-eight percent of the movie.

This movie deals with some deep themes. What does it mean to be human? What’s real and what isn’t? What can being isolated for so long do to a person? I saw similar questions raised in I Am Legend, but a weak second half and a botched ending prevents those questions from being answered. No such problem exists in Moon. High Five.

Two other things in this film bear mentioning: the music and the special effects. The soundtrack was composed by Clint Mansell, and it ranks right up there with his work in The Fountain. Gosh the music was good. Hauntingly good. I bought the soundtrack off of iTunes when I got home and I listened to it the whole time I wrote this review. How many times do you have to hear me say it’s good?

The special effects are spectacular. Looking at them, you could not tell this movie was shot on a 5 million dollar budget. The outside of the moon base and the rovers all look very industrial and cool. They’re not cgi though, they’re all done in miniature. Something about using miniatures just looks good, and I enjoy seeing movies where film makers go this route.

Look at that view

Look at that view

Moon is the kind of science fiction movie that you don’t see anymore, the kind that makes you think and brings a healthy dose of realism to the table. That unto itself is impressive. Even better is that the film is pulled off so well, with an amazing performance from Sam Rockwell and Kevin Spacey’s lovely voice (it really is quite smooth). Unfortunately, Moon is in limited release, so it might not be playing in your town. If it is, and this is the kind of sci-fi that gets you all hot and bothered, don’t hesitate to see this film. I’m looking forward to buying it on DVD and watching it again.

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Shiny

Shiny

I thought this movie would be awful. I heard it was bad from reviews. It has Keanu Reeves starring as the alien Klaatu. His acting in Bram Stoker’s Dracula was more monstrous than the King of Vampires himself. It’s also a remake of a 1950’s sci-fi movie that I’ve never seen. None of the above left me feeling optimistic. To my surprise, the movie had a few things going for it besides a some cool special effects shots.

Keanu isn’t a terrible actor in this movie for the same reason Arnold Schwarzenegger is good in the Terminator movies. They’re both playing as these emotionless, robotic characters. Keanu Reeves managed to pull off being an aloof alien visitor quite well.

BAMF

Lookin good

His reason for visiting the Earth is a pretty neat spin on the usual alien invasion motif. Usually when an alien shows up, they want to erradicate us and strip mine our planet and move on, a la Independence Day, Slither, or War of the Worlds. In this movie the alien wants to save the Earth by destroying humanity. His argument is that there are so few life bearing planets in the cosmos that they can’t waste one on us. I like the idea that there are so few planets capable of sustaining complex life that when one is threatened the aliens are willing to intervene on it’s behalf so they don’t lose it.

The other cool moment in this film is when the alien meets with a Nobel Peace Prize winning scientist (played by John Cleese). They discuss that the human race is about to pass the point of no return from which we will no longer be able to save the planet. From this we discover that the alien race was in a similar situation at one point and that only then did they turn around and do what they had to to save themselves and their planet. The scientist argues that humanity needs its chance to show that we can turn around and save ourselves. We can be just like the aliens and adapt so that we don’t perish. It was a thought provoking scene.

All of the above stuff I enjoyed. It might have an environmentalist message that borders on being preachy, but I liked it. However, that’s not to say that I liked everything about this movie.

Klaatu isn’t just rolling around by himself. He has a female scientist with him who was part of the first contact effort and her son. I had an extreme dislike for her son. He was basically just representing racist America. “Why are we helping the alien? He’s the bad guy! If dad were here he’d stop him!” You have no idea how many times this kid went on about how if his soldier dad were still alive he’d be shoving his boot up Klaatu’s ass. Every scene up until this kid realized Klaatu is the good guy he just hates on him and it gets annoying very, very quickly. There was a good way to handle the theme of racism in the movie, but this wasn’t it.

Less talking please

Less talking please

The military was painfully incompetent at some points. “Hmmmm. I think it’s a good idea to interrogate the alien in our secret military base instead of letting him talk to world leaders like he requested.” or “The alien’s cloud of nanomachines is wrecking us! Instead of reasoning with the alien lets try and blow him up. I bet that’ll stop his robot cloud THAT HE IS NOT CONTROLLING.” Although I will say the special effects shots were good. They may have been making some stupid decisions, but they looked pretty cool when they payed for it by blowing up or being eaten by a cloud of robots.

I didn’t hate the time I spent with The Day the Earth Stood Still. It was a flawed movie, but it was still entertaining and presented an interesting spin on the alien invasion movie. I haven’t seen the original, and I feel like if I had, I would have a lower opinion of this movie. As it stands I would say this movie is worth a rental.