johnlink ranks MOON (2009)

After a five month hiatus (give or take) we finally got back to having a movie night. And it was a good one in which we got to see a film I’d been wanting to take a crack it. Be warned, the less you know about this movie going in the better. Even the trailer below gives away a great end of Act one twist. I’m glad I knew so little when I saw it. Be warned, SPOILERS abound after the jump.

I watched MOON (2009) on 3.18.10. It was my first viewing of the film. TRAILER HERE

There are moments in this film that absolutely blew me away. The hallucinations. The dreams (particularly the one where astronaut Sam is creeping up the covers). The discovery of the clone. The communication with his daughter. The moments are all there in this very good film. For me, the sum of its parts didn’t quite jump it into ‘superb’ status, but it is close.

I think the best device was the robot GERTY, voiced by Kevin Spacey. They definitely play on a 2001construct here. You don’t trust the machine from the beginning, and film convention tells us why. It’s supremely brilliant to have this ultimately be Sam’s best friend. The robot is a vital character for this film, and yet, it also leads to the crux of MOON’s problem. As soon as Sam(s) realized that GERTY was honest, helpful, and full of knowledge why wouldn’t they play 20 questions (or 200 questions) to figure out what was going on. The machine was capable of lying, as we saw when Sam 2.0 (or, possibly 13.0 or whatever) wakes up.  But where is the constant questioning? He’s the best resource they have, and they only sporadically use him.

Sam Rockwell’s performance in MOON is about as good as you could ask. He plays the two versions of Sam uniquely, with their experiences helping to create a character separation, while also being (at their root) the same person. The reactions to seeing their daughter are two such nuanced moments, so similar, yet vastly different. I loved his performance in this. Technically speaking, some of his scenes with himself felt manufactured (ping-pong for one), but for the most part the film did a good job on a low budget telling a story of two characters being played by one actor.

There were a lot of questions left unanswered for me. Who was the girl in the chair (might have been his daughter grown up, but I’m not sure). Were the hallucinations a result of the alone time, or a result of the clone nearing its end? It would appear the other clones had no such problem. They were merely terminated, so I lean toward this unique Sam having difficulty coping. How could one Sam recognize a model town, and the other not? Was ‘Dad’ in the scene with his daughter the original Sam? I like to think it was. And, philosophically, would the Sams have been better off destroying these clones and ending the project? They say they cannot kill, which is a fair answer, but it does bring up sanctity of life issues. Is it better to live for three years as a slave, pining to return to a wife who does not exist, or is it better to not live at all? And finally, what happens to cloned Sam back on Earth?

Any film which leaves you with that many questions either didn’t do a good job, or did a great job. I like to think that this is mostly the latter. The questions (both story-wise and morally speaking) are intentional questions. I’d like to have seen the script take a little longer with our second Sam’s discovery of the problem. I know they wanted to launch Act 2, but I would loved to have seen his struggle with GERTY to try and sabotage the ship to get him outside. It would have added to his mistrust of the machine, and it would have helped me with his decision to not trust it for so long (though the live communication introduced that, I wanted some follow through). But I’m complaining a lot about a movie I really enjoyed. I think it is because it is so infinitesimally close to being great, and didn’t quite make it there, that I am being so critical. Either way, I’m very glad I saw it, and want to see it again to discover new things I may have missed.


FILM: 7; MOVIE: 7; ACTING: 9; WRITING: 5 (What is this?)



~ by johnlink00 on March 19, 2010.

2 Responses to “johnlink ranks MOON (2009)”

  1. Personally, I did think they did enough to establish that GERTY was not trustworthy. If you can’t believe what he says, asking him questions is futile. Plus as you pointed out, there’s an assumption with movies like this that the intelligent computer will always turn on you, become malicious. What a wonderful twist that it never happens that way. That once the situation goes beyond his specific programming (ie a new Sam waking up), GERTY’s default actions are to help Sam and tell him the truth.

    That’s not to contradict your criticism, maybe they over-relied on the viewer being familiar with HAL and other malicious machines, which GERTY clearly is meant to invoke.

    The one part that made me crazy, and maybe I’m not reacting the way others would, was when the father comes to the phone (definitely Sam Rockwell’s voice). I found his reaction to be the opposite of mine, especially considering his need to find out what was going on. I would have needed to know if the Sam on Earth knowingly allowed the situation on the moon to persist. That’s an unanswered question I really would have preferred was answered.

    As for what happens to Sam when he gets back to Earth, I think the vague soundbites at the end sum it up well enough to let my imagination fill in the rest. That was one of my favorite parts of this film. I want to watch it again to see if it holds that way.

  2. Like I mentioned in the article, I did get the sense that they were trying to invoke HAL. And even if Sam 2.0 didn’t trust him, why wouldn’t Sam 1.0? It is not til much later that 2.0 reveals the live sat link info. Plus, if you ask a straight forward question like ‘where are the other clones’ and he lies, then you know more then you did before. I understand what you mean on a script level, but if it is just you, this other you, and a robot who knows everything on a moon base alone, wouldn’t you at least try? Especially once he DOES prove he is helping you.

    And the father/daughter relationship seemed strange to me as well. I wanted him to at least see himself, even by the way the original would look at him would tell us all we need to know. I didn’t need to be explicit.

    And I tend to agree with you about the ending. I like that it asks the viewer to figure out what happens next. Like I said, I think having unanswered questions at the end of a film is a goof thing. Gives the viewers something to chew on and think about and talk about (as we are proving 🙂 )

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