Sunday, October 27, 2013

Movie Appraisal: Moon (2009)


Moon, directed by Duncan Jones, is a film I've wanted to see for a good long while. And now that I have seen it, I must admit that it's been worth the long wait. I don't know how much I consider this a horror film, even if it does have elements of horror, including gore, tension, claustrophobia, and ultimately death. I think I could put it into that genre of space horror, so often maligned and so often incredible. I can see it in the same genre as smart space movies like Sunshine, and maybe that is where it aptly should sit forever as an idol to what space movies can and have achieved.

Again, I'm not sure how horrific this movie is or how well it would fit in a horror review month, but I think that enough elements are there that if somebody complains I can defend myself by saying, "Look, idiot, this is my review month. I thought this was tense and creepy at times. It could be pretty scary if you look at it the right way. So, deal with it, fool."

This, ultimately, is a movie about love, loss, drama, tension, clones, capitalism, the horror of losing oneself and one's mind, and psychology. There is radiation sickness, seeing what you used to be laid bare, seeing lies and knowing you're powerless, and the moon, always the moon, featured.

M-O-O-N that spells Moon, a movie about a man working on a space station on the far side of the moon, mining helium-3 and mainly being there to oversee the big machines that mine it. He is alone for three long years and starts losing it little by little. Then one day, when he is only two weeks from leaving the moon base, he gets into an accident and wakes up with no memory of what happened. Kind of.

You see, this is where the early twist comes into play. The man who wakes up is not the Sam Bell we started the movie with, but rather a clone, woken up because the other one was "lost." This new clone feels that something's wrong and goes to find what's up only to find the earlier Sam still crashed in the lunar vehicle. He saves him, brings him back, and they learn from each other and figure out a plan to do something memorable.

I don't want to say much more about the plot. It's incredible and worth the watch, even absolutely worth the watch. If there's a single film about space you should watch in your life, it should be this one, absolutely this one, even over 2001: A Space Odyssey. The movie is poignant at times, showing that love is something beyond the mortal bounds, showing that there is more petty evil that humans are capable of than there are stars in the sky. And yet there is also heroism, caring, and again, that love that so often drives us to do stupid things.

The story is meticulously pointed out and paced, so much so that it is as close to perfect as a story can possibly be. It's very tight at times, but it does what it needs to do to tell the most convincing story possible. This is a memorable film, and one I certainly will never forget. I put it up there with Ink as one of the most affecting standalone movies I can think of. It's a bit of a life-changing movie, but one without the great punch of an ending I really wish it would have.

Sam Rockwell shines in his role as Sam Bell, as does Kevin Spacey as GERTY, the AI companion to Sam that seems to know much more than he tells and is much less malicious than HAL, even though the comparisons are certainly apt. Both actors do a great job in being their characters absolutely. Sam Rockwell plays several clones of his own character. His portrayals of the two main Sams is actually incredible, showing both as physically and mentally very different and yet fundamentally the same.

I really want to mention the subtle love story this movie has in it. I don't usually like love stories all that much, but the tragic ones often hit me rather hard, even though the ones with happy endings rarely do anything to me at all. The tragedy here is palpable, nearly breaking one of the Sams, who had waited for three years to go back and be with the woman he loves. The love between Sam and  Tess is absolutely wonderful... but also tragic in every way possible. Again, another comparison to Ink, but one I'd rather not go into very much depth with since its a spoiler for both movies.

Maybe this movie hit me so hard because of its themes of isolation, of psychological torment brought on by loneliness, and by the main character truly loving and missing his partner in love. To me those moments worked so well to bring about some kind of emotion, to evoke a response in me. I like bringing personal input into these reviews, telling why this stuff affected me, why I personally love it or hate it so much. I know a ton of people expect bare bones facts, telling about what the movie is and interpreting it and saying exactly what's going on, and telling EVERYTHING FACTUALLY. Because that's important for some reason.

The thing is, I'm not like that. I meander and go off on other topics. And I don't like people telling me how to write or how to review. This movie, Moon, affects me personally, in a personal way. And maybe that's why I like this movie so much and why I can view it as psychologically horrific. You see, I'm engaged to a woman who lives 200 miles away from me, working a job that leaves me nearly completely alone for ten-twelve hours six days a week. I spend a lot of time by myself. And I spend a lot of time missing the person I love so much it numbs me. So, this movie hits me hard because it's so easy to see how Sam feels, and it's so easy to respond in kind.

I bring all this review stuff up here because I can't stand it. I hate when people expect me to give them answers to movies that are ART that don't necessarily have a singular answer to them. Especially these more psychologically minded movies. Lately I've even gotten people being rude to me, demanding answers to movies, or screaming the answers at me saying I didn't get it. The worst is when people demand I keep personal feelings to myself when reviewing citing it being unprofessional or wrong or just me specific.

Yes, that's the idea, numbnuts. I am personally reviewing and analyzing these movies for me. What I liked and what I didn't like. Seriously, there are many blogs out there to read, many reviewing similar things to what I review. Go ahead and check them out if you don't like the way I review. To me this is fun, watching great or crappy or mediocre movies and just writing about them, talking about them, and having people read them. It's relaxing to watch a movie or read a book or play a video game and then talk about it. It's nice. I like interpreting, but more than that I want to talk about how something hit me about the fiction. Did I like it? Why? Did I hate it? Why?

So, I liked Moon so much because of its story, characters, and setting, certainly. But I loved it so much because it affected me in a more personal way, like Ink or 1408 or other movies that I view as much deeper and more personally affected me than just a movie.

I'm somewhat sorry to get into this in this review, but it's a great movie and I guarantee someone would say something about how this isn't a good review because I should be focusing on the movie, not my feelings on the movie. But that's so dumb. Yes, the movie is about the moon, good old Luna in the sky, but its also about a person, a personality, love, loss, and realization, horrific and disheartening realization. I think this is one of those movies I'll rewatch every once in a while. It's way too good to not watch.

Obviously I recommend this movie. If you haven't seen it already, go find it immediately and watch it.

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