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Duncan Jones
Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey, Dominique McElligott
Writing Credits:
Nathan Parker

Astronaut Sam Bell has a quintessentially personal encounter toward the end of his three-year stint on the Moon, where he, working alongside his computer, GERTY, sends back to Earth parcels of a resource that has helped diminish our planet's power problems.

Box Office:
Domestic Gross

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Portuguese DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

97 min.
Price: $9.98
Release Date: 1/12/2010

• 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


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; 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.


Moon [Blu-Ray] (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 26, 2016)

Four decades after his pop scored a hit with “Space Oddity”, Duncan Jones – David Bowie’s son – approached similar thematic territory with 2009’s Moon. Set in an undefined future, we learn that the Moon supplies all of 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 rom 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 disc’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 Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus A-

Moon appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie provided a decent but unexceptional transfer.

Sharpness seemed generally positive. Interiors could be lackluster, but other elements were reasonably concise and accurate. Though I only occasionally 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 and edge haloes 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 DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Moon, though it didn’t stand out as great, either. 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.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD version? Audio seemed a little more dynamic, while visuals came across as tighter and smoother. This was never a great looking/sounding film, but it improved on the DVD.

The Blu-ray duplicates the DVD’s extras, and 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, 46 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, 18 seconds and provides notes from Jones, Fenegan, and actor Sam Rockwell. The show covers casting Rockwell and complexities of his performance, other actors/roles, 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, 15 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, Boondock Saints II and Michael Jackson’s This Is It.

In addition to the theatrical trailer for Moon, the disc includes Previews for Black Dynamite, Zombieland, Coco Before Chanel, Snatch, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Blood: The Last Vampire, It Might Get Loud, and The Damned United.

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 disc provides decent to good picture and audio as well as a surprisingly strong roster of extras. I definitely recommend this involving sci-fi effort.

To rate this film, visit the DVD review of MOON

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