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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Duncan Jones
Cast:
Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey, Dominique McElligott
Writing Credits:
Duncan Jones (story), Nathan Parker

Tagline:
The last place you'd ever expect to find yourself.

Synopsis:
Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is nearing the completion of his 3-year-long contract with Lunar Industries, mining Earth's primary source of energy on the dark side of the moon. Alone with only the base's vigilant computer Gerty (voiced by Oscar-Winner Kevin Spacey) as his sole companion, Bell's extended isolation has taken its toll. His only link to the outside world comes from satellite messages from his wife and young daughter. He longs to return home, but a terrible accident on the lunar surface leads to a disturbing discovery that contributes to his growing sense of paranoia and dislocation so many miles away from home. Moon is an engrossing, intelligent sci-fi thriller that ranks with genre classics like 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Box Office:
Domestic Gross
$5.009 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.40:1/16X9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime: 97 min.
Price: $27.96
Release Date: 1/12/2010

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Duncan Jones and Producer Stuart Fenegan
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Duncan Jones, Director of Photography Gary Shaw, Concept Designer Gavin Rothery and Production Designer Tony Noble
Whistle Short Film
• “The Making of Moon” Featurette
• “Creating the Visual Effects” Featurette
• “Science Center Q&A with Director Duncan Jones” Featurette
• “Filmmakers Q&A at the Sundance Film Festival” Featurette
• Trailer
• Previews


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Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Moon (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 19, 2010)

Four decades after his pop scored a hit with “Space Oddity”, Duncan Jones – once best known as “Zowie Bowie” – approaches similar thematic territory with 2009’s Moon. Set in an undefined future, we learn that helium-3 on the Moon satisfies Earth’s energy needs.

To harvest these resources, someone needs to maintain the machinery. Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) signs up for a three-year stint in this solitary position; alone on the Moon, Sam has little more than a computer assistant named Gerty (voiced by Kevin Spacey) to keep him company. When we meet him, Sam only has three weeks left before he returns to his wife Tess (Dominique McElligott) and daughter Eve (Rosie Shaw) on Earth.

To the surprise of no one who’s ever seen a movie, a snag occurs. When he goes to investigate a malfunction, Sam’s lunar rover crashes. He ends up in rehab and soon realizes that he isn’t alone. This leads to questions of Sam’s identity that fuel the rest of the story.

To say that Moon wears its influences on its sleeve would be an understatement, especially in terms of the obvious link to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Not only does Moon refuse to shy away from the similarities, but also it appears to embrace them. Gerty is far too much like HAL for anyone to attempt to deny the homage, and many other aspects play like cousins to 2001 components. Indeed, the entire movie feels like a riff on the Dave/HAL sequence of 2001.

Not that Moon comes across like a rip-off, though; obvious influences and all, it still plays like its own movie. The first act does track a little too closely to 2001 territory at times, but Moon starts to come into its own after Sam crashes the rover. That’s when things take a weird turn and start to become more interesting.

It becomes tough to discuss much more about the story because of the potential for spoilers. To my delight, the DVD’s packaging doesn’t reveal any surprises, so I went into Moon with little idea of what would happen. I think the movie will still play well even when you know what jolts to expect, but I still wouldn’t want to betray its secrets.

So that leaves me without a ton to say about the movie, other than to state that it leads us down an intriguing path. Rockwell also offers a pretty terrific performance as Sam. Forced to play the entire flick with no one else to bounce off of, Rockwell delivers a believable, engaging turn. The movie dumps the story totally on his shoulders, and Rockwell holds up to the task well.

All these elements combine to create an unusual, involving sci-fi tale. Moon never reinvents any wheels, but it stakes out enough of its own territory to succeed. This becomes a good character drama in an unusual setting.


The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus A-

Moon appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The movie provided a decent but unexceptional transfer.

Sharpness seemed generally positive. Some edge haloes meant that wide shots tended to be a bit off, but other elements were reasonably concise and accurate. Though I never saw rock-solid definition, the movie showed fairly nice delineation most of the time. I noticed no issues with shimmering or jagged edges, and source flaws remained absent.

With its cold lunar setting, Moon featured a pretty monochromatic palette. Grays and blues dominated, as other hues were infrequent. The colors tended to seem somewhat dull, but they were acceptable given the production choices. Blacks were reasonably dark, while shadows looked okay. Those could be somewhat dense, but they offered decent delineation. Nothing here stood out as impressive, but I thought the whole package was good enough for a “B-“.

I took more consistent pleasures from the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Moon. Much of the time, the flick went with a sense of general atmosphere. This helped place us in the movie’s location and conveyed the appropriate material well. Music showed nice stereo imaging, and a smattering of more active sequences used the different channels well. For instance, the rover crash created a nice impression, though surround usage wasn’t especially impressive; the track tended to maintain a forward emphasis.

Audio quality impressed. Speech was natural and concise, without edginess or other blemishes. Music appeared full and rich, while effects offered good clarity. I thought the track worked well.

We get a good complement of supplements here. The fun starts with two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from writer/director Duncan Jones and producer Stuart Fenegan. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at cast and performances, sets and production design, music and various effects, cinematography, budgetary restrictions, influences, and a few other elements.

From start to finish, Jones and Fenegan combine for an effective conversation. They seem frank and charming as they cover a mix of topics related to the movie. I’d like more about story/script, but this remains a likable, informative piece.

For the second track, we hear from writer/director Duncan Jones, director of photography Gary Shaw, concept designer Gavin Rothery and production designer Tony Noble. All of them sit together for their running, screen-specific chat about… well, pretty much the same subjects addressed in the first commentary.

And that makes this discussion pretty redundant. It offers many tidbits already heard in the other track, and the new material rarely proves to be particularly scintillating. The participants prefer to joke around much of the time, so the commentary lacks a great deal of useful material. It’s not a bad track, but after the winning Jones/Fenegan piece, it disappoints.

Next comes a short film called Whistle. Directed by Jones in 2002, Whistle runs 28 minutes, 45 seconds, as it tells a tale of an expert assassin affected by a guilty conscience. Jones does a lot with a little here and makes this a surprisingly rich tale.

A few featurettes follow. The Making of Moon goes for 16 minutes, 17 seconds and provides notes from Jones, Fenegan, and actor Sam Rockwell. The show covers casting Rockwell and complexities of his performance, other cast and performances, sets, production design, and various effects, and a few character/story points. After two commentaries, much of the info becomes redundant. However, the presence of Rockwell adds one new perspective, and it’s good to get the behind the scenes shots. Those make this reasonably enjoyable.

In the 11-minute, nine-second Creating the Visual Effects, we see examples of the work done for the film. On top of these effects progression clips, we hear narration from visual effects supervisor Simon Stanley-Clamp. These allow us a good glimpse of the methods used to bring about the flick’s effects, and Stanley-Clamp gives us useful info about these techniques.

Science Center Q&A with Director Duncan Jones goes for 20 minutes, 48 seconds. Shot at Space Center Houston, Jones discusses his next project, the film’s genesis, some character/story notes, influences and scientific elements, music and effects, and a few other thoughts about the project. Inevitably, some repetition occurs, but we get a reasonably fresh roster of questions and Jones remains engaging.

Finally, we get a Filmmakers Q&A at the Sundance Film Festival. It lasts 11 minutes, 16 seconds and features Jones, Fenegan, Rockwell, screenwriter Nathan Parker, and executive producer Trudie Styler. They cover acting, effects, influences, story and the like. Despite the presence of Styler – aka “Mrs. Sting” – we don’t get much in the way of new info here. It is the only place where Jones refers to his dad, though not by name.

A few ads open the disc. We get clips for District 9, Black Dynamite, The Boondocks Saints II: All Saints Day, and Michael Jackson’s This Is It. In addition to the theatrical trailer for Moon, the DVD includes Previews for the aforementioned flicks as well as Blood: The Last Vampire, Zombieland, By the People: The Election of Barack Obama, Hardwired, It Might Get Loud, The Damned United and Dark Country.

I hesitate to say that Moon signals a new director with a lot of promise. If I refer to Duncan Jones as “promising”, that may leave the impression that Moon only partially succeeds. That’s not the case; it’s a perfectly satisfying film in its own right, not just one that hints at cinematic talent. The DVD provides decent to good picture as well as a surprisingly strong roster of extras. I definitely recommend this involving sci-fi effort.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.125 Stars Number of Votes: 8
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main