Starring: Sam Rockwell, Dominique McElligott, Kevin Spacey (voice)
Directed by: Duncan Jones (debut)
Written by: Nathan Parker (debut)
Reminiscent of early episodes of Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone,” the new science fiction film “Moon” is a refreshing addition to a genre usually reserved these days for million-dollar special effects and overly-scripted premises. With “Moon,” debut feature director Duncan Jones gives us one of the most minimalistic and stimulating narratives since 2002’s underappreciated “Solaris.”
In “Moon,” the same deep emotions are layered throughout the story just like Steven Soderbergh’s remake of seven years ago. It’s not necessarily as haunting of an experience, but Jones is able to pick away at our psyche little by little to keep us intrigued by the eeriness of it all.
The film begins with an introduction to Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), an astronaut who has inhabited a space station for almost three years mining for a much-needed power source for earth. Alone for the entire duration of his mission, Sam get through the days by watching old TV sitcoms, exchanging messages via video feed with his wife and daughter on earth, and talking to the space station’s main computer GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey). Unlike Tom Hanks communicates with his volleyball Wilson in “Castaway,” at least GERTY speaks back.
Coming to the end of his contract with the company that sent him into space, Sam is eager to get back to earth after three long years in solitary confinement. A man can only take so much ping-pong playing with a wall and talking to a mainframe whose emotional outbursts are limited to computer-generated facial expressions.
Sam’s mission is derailed, however, when he mysteriously wakes up in the station’s infirmary after crashing his rover during an excavation on the surface of the moon. When he returns to the crash site to investigate, he discovers something that makes him question his sanity and even his own existence.
Cleverly-written and well-paced, “Moon” is anchored by a top-notch performance by Rockwell, his best since 2002’s “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.” As Sam attempts to piece together what he is experiencing aboard a station, Rockwell slowly unravels his character to his rawest form. Director Duncan magnifies this by giving us thought-provoking scenarios that will have you talking long after you’ve left the theater.