Monday, October 27, 2014

Moon (2009) 2 of 4

**Spoiler section marked**

I'm 50 years old, and for me the golden of s.f. movies was the 1980s.  This helps to explain why I'm not too excited by most of the newer s.f. movies, although Tom Cruise has been making some good ones, and I like many of the viral horror films, with their s.f. elements.
As for Moon, I can only class it with other recent, tersely-titled films with protagonists stuck somewhere near the Earth, forced to break out of their stupor if they're going to get back to and/or save the day: Wall-E, Gravity, Elysium, Oblivion,  These movies are OK if you don't mind the science fiction serving as frame for the old message about letting life be an adventure or you'll sink in a rut etc.

** SPOILER Section **

Moon is quieter than those films, with little action, instead leaning of the wan charm of  Sam Rockwell as Sam Bell, a corporate caretaker of an otherwise-automated mining base (which looks a lot like Moonbase Alpha of Space: 1999).  The film is well-titled, because sad Sam spends most of the film mooning and moping around, yearning to get back to his wife and daughter on Earth.  What he learns as the plot unfolds is that it's later than he thinks: he's a clone, his wife is dead and the company has hundreds of other Sam clones in storage.  Sam's a spare part.
Ultimately, the only person Sam has to talk to is a newer version of himself. The newer Sam can't avoid the truth that he's a clone, which makes him more of a hard-ass.  This sets up an "odd couple" dynamic.  There's also GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey), the station's robot, surprisingly helpful to Sam as he defends his rights.

** END Spoiler Section**

The names underline this is Sam's wake-up call: Bell runs the Sarang station.  Fine, but the whole thing seems undernourished to me, without much edge for a story about an existential crisis.  Also, I'm not buying this shuffling non-conformist in charge of a high-value moon station.  Reportedly, the character is partly inspired by the Bruce Dern's character in Silent Running (who's also referenced by a clip in the recent Mama, another tale of loneliness and exploitation), but that film is set farther into the future, so it's more believable that space technology might be left in the hands of a grumpy oddball.
But also: have you seen  Silent Running?  Like Elysium, it's a film that got applause for its message. (As movies, yech.)
As for Moon, it's not so bad, but from the positive reviews I expected more.  We're in an age of lowered expectations for science fiction movies, which probably makes sense with space exploration stalled, warfare grinding on as we try to sort the impact of the Internet and globalization: we have less patience for visions of different futures.  The best we can do is tales of working stiffs in spacesuits, trying to get home.

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