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Science-fiction films are usually big-budget blockbusters more concerned with special effects than with character, but MOON goes the indie route, using a five-million-dollar budget to create a thought-provoking film. First-time feature director Duncan Jones wrote the part of Sam Bell, a miner living in isolation on the moon, with CHOKE's Sam Rockwell in mind, and it's perfect casting. MOON begins when Sam's three-year contract with Lunar Industries is almost up, and it isn't soon enough for the isolated man. Communication is down, and he is only able to send and receive prerecorded messages home, so he has had no real-time contact with his wife and daughter. An accident in a lunar rover leaves Sam stranded, but he wakes up back in the station, where he encounters someone who looks exactly like him, just a little younger. With the help of the base's robot, Gerty (voiced by Kevin Spacey), Sam tries to uncover what lies beneath the gleaming surface of the base.
Production designer Tony Noble has created a cold, utilitarian set for MOON, reminiscent of sci-fi classics such as 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and ALIEN. The minimalist surroundings and small number of special effects allow Rockwell's strong performance to shine in what is essentially a one-man film. There are very few shots without Rockwell's presence, and he is adept at communicating the Sams' variety of emotions. Rockwell is undeniably the center of the film, but Jones has made a stylish debut that promises an impressive filmography in the future.
Sam Rockwell, Dominique McElligott, Kaya Scodelario, Benedict Wong, Matt Berry, Malcolm Stewart
3.5 stars out of 5 -- "Anchored by a dexterous performance from indie stalwart Sam Rockwell and shot in lean, expressive and slightly surreal visual tone that recalls Tarkovsky's SOLARIS, MOON harkens back to pre-STAR WARS American science fiction films..."
"Screenwriter Nathan Parker capably splices generic sci-fi components with a Big Brother fixture in this well-wrought, modular entertainment."
3 stars out of 4 -- "MOON, a superb first feature directed by Duncan Jones and starring an impressive Sam Rockwell, is an intelligent, evocative and deceptively low-key sci-fi adventure."
3.5 stars out of 4 -- "MOON is a superior example of that threatened genre, hard science-fiction, which is often about the interface between humans and alien intelligence of one kind or other....The movie is really all about ideas..."
"[A] modest, haunting feature....MOON is an exercise in minimalism, pairing down a complex futuristic scenario into what is essentially a one-person drama."
New York Times
"[I]ts theme is the elusive question of human identity....Mr. Rockwell gives a brilliant performance [and] the physical production is impressive..."
Wall Street Journal
"Rockwell's presence gives the movie a funky humanity....MOON has an honest-to-goodness personality." -- Grade: B+
3.5 stars out of 4 -- "This mesmerizing mind-bender sneaks up and hits you hard....MOON is a provocation that relies on ideas instead of computer tricks to stir up excitement."
5 stars out of 5 -- "MOON is tense but it also expertly wrong-foots us, dodging potential clichs in favour of emotive, intelligent revelations."
"[A] trippy sci-fi yarn....Prepare to have your mind blown." -- Grade: B+
4 stars out of 5 -- "Jones' debut is a gripping, claustrophobic film....Rockwell excels in the tall task of acting with and against himself..."
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