The trailer for Duncan Jones’ debut film Moon doesn’t give a whole lot away when it comes to the film’s plot, but it certainly shows it’s influence from films like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Solaris. This notion, it’s notoriously small budget, and its first time director are enough to make anyone weary going in.
Jones did little to disperse these concerns in the first half of Moon. Sam Rockwell plays Sam Bell, the lone operator of a energy mining enterprise on the moon. He’s coming close to finishing up his three-year contract, and the loneliness and isolation are getting to him. His only companion is an artificially-intelligent computer named Gerty (voiced by Kevin Spacey). An accident forces everyone to presume Sam is dead, and a clone of Sam takes his place, only to discover the original Sam isn’t dead, leaving the two of them alone on this moon station. From this point, you’ll think you have it all figured out. But I promise you, you don’t.
The highest praises should go to Mr. Rockwell. His solo performance is grounded, and moving. But the really impressive stuff starts when he plays both Sam, and Sam’s clone. The slight differences in the character force Rockwell to be both the protagonist and antagonist, fighting, arguing, and enjoying the company, of well, himself. This is no small feat, and he makes it look easy. Along with these demands, the failing health of the original Sam (not to mention three years out of the sun) requires a daunting physical performance, pulled off with flying colors.
Jones produced the original story, and was aided by Nathan Parker who produced a script (this is Parker’s first writing credit). Jones depiction of outer space is refreshing when compared to the other Sci-fi flicks like Abrahm’s Star Trek, showing more of a dark, lonely place, one where minds start to turn on themselves. Despite having a small budget, the minimal effects were done quite well, making it much easier for the viewer to suspend belief. Jones managed to do what Danny Boyle did with Sunshine: make the genre less of the focus, and zero in on the human conflict and struggle, which makes this film more interesting than most.