Thursday, July 23, 2009


I just got back from visiting family in Texas, and while we were there I got to see the new movie Moon, which isn't showing here in Lafayette.

It's hard to talk about the film without spoiling plot elements, so I'll be nebulous above the poster pic and discuss the film with spoilers below it. Overall the movie is a very good sci-fi pic, which apparently is difficult to do since most of them end up sucking pretty hard.

From the preview, I thought the film would be a retread of a lot of previous films which explore the common themes of solitude, loneliness, and insanity in the isolation of space. The film did explore some of those ideas, and borrowed heavily from some venerable sci-fi source material, but it managed to make the mix original. Good art generally either makes you think or evokes some strong emotion. Moon does both of those, and does them well. My one complaint is that the ending feels rushed and slapped together, and not in proportion to the quality of the rest of the film. But all in all I give it a strong recommendation.

If you have already seen it, or don't care about spoilers, there's more below the poster.

As I said above, the film borrows pretty heavily from previous films, most notably Blade Runner, 2001, and the Alien series. There are clones with implanted memories who don't know they're clones with implanted memories. But Moon actually manages to make us care about the character(s), which is all to uncommon in SF with strong ideas.

The biggest plus in my book is the fact that the movie featured a near-human level AI that not only didn't turn out to be completely malfunctioning or evil, but managed to be developed into a full-blown character whose motivations were ever entirely made clear (like most good characters). Did he help the various Sams because that was a priority in his programming? Did he understand the ethical horror that the clones were being put through and actually feel compelled to help put an end to it? We don't know...and that's great. Of course, the bad guy was a big, evil energy corporation, but it was at least refreshing to see an AI treated with some level of complexity and actually developed as a character.

Now, the ending...why did the cleaners leave the dead same in the rover? What good was it going to do to knock out the jammer? Did that happen after the cleaners left? If not, wouldn't they just fix it? If so, wouldn't the corporation still be aware of it? And what exactly was the seemed like the whole situation was exposed when the Sam clone made it back to Earth.

Another big issue was the life spans of the clones. It was strongly insinuated in the film that as a failsafe, the clones only had a lifespan of about three years. The Sam we start the film with starts to fall apart and get extremely sick, coughing and spewing up blood, losing teeth, etc. He sees video of previous Sams getting sick near the end of their contracts, losing hair, coughing, etc. It was never said directly in the film, but if that's the case, why didn't the older Sam warn the younger one that he only had 3 years to live?

Other questions...were the hallucinations at the beginning of his daughter Eve? If so, what brought them on? Was this some sort of signal from a previous Sam, or just a coincidence that he happened to be hallucinating about his daughter being grown up, even though he thought she was still an infant?

Anyway, a good film doesn't answer all it's takes some thinking about and ultimately has multiple interpretations. I just wish the thought and care that seemed to go into the rest of the film had been put into the ending, which really felt tacked on.

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