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In this critically-acclaimed space isolation drama, Sam Bell is a worker for Lunar Industries who is nearing the end of a three-year contract to mine the moon's surface for the precious gas Helium 3, the solution to Earth's energy crisis. As he approaches his return to Earth, Sam reflects on the lessons he has learned during his prolonged isolation and looks forward to his reunion with his wife and young daughter. But a fortnight before his departure he starts seeing and hearing strange things that lead him to suspect that his employers intend to replace him in a far more sinister way than he imagined. Sam's only companion, a small robotic computer called Gerty.
For more about Moon and the Moon Blu-ray release, see Moon Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on December 18, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Duncan Jones
Writers: Duncan Jones, Nathan Parker (III)
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey, Dominique McElligott, Kaya Scodelario, Benedict Wong, Malcolm Stewart
» See full cast & crew
Moon Blu-ray Review
Science Fiction returns to its roots in this modern classic.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, December 18, 2009
The power of the moon, the power of our future.
No lasers, no explosions, no aliens, no problem. Director Duncan Jones' Moon is a member of a lost species, a true work of Science Fiction art that explores not just outer space but the deepest chasms of mankind, the film set on the moon but standing firmly in the midst of the human condition where it delves into the deepest secrets of the soul, a place as mysterious as the dark side of the moon itself. Indeed, Moon is a reflection of everything that makes man a man, the film a detached yet deeply personal account of one individual's struggle to cope with both isolation and the revelation of a dark and disturbing secret while also commenting on humanity's evolved yet nevertheless disconnected and heartless ways. Set in a future where science and technology have once again revolutionized the world but where the human species' morality is questioned under the guise of a tormented soul, Moon is one this generation's -- and history's -- finest examples of Science Fiction done absolutely right.
Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell, Galaxy Quest) is working for Lunar Industries, a company harvesting "Helium 3" from the surface of the moon, the compound now providing 70% of the Earth's total energy. The lone man stationed inside a small lunar base and charged with keeping the automated "harvester" machines operational, Sam is closing in on the end of his three-year tour on the dark side of the moon. Only two weeks remain before Sam can once again be reunited with his wife and daughter on Earth, but with the facility's communications system on the fritz, Sam slowly begins hallucinating, seeing objects and people that cannot, in fact, be with him on the moon. Traversing the lunar surface inside a rover while on a routine mission, Sam accidentally collides with a harvester and awakens in the facility's infirmary where his lone companion, a robot dubbed GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey, 21), informs him that he's suffered serious trauma. As Sam recovers and attempts to piece together his hallucinations and accident, he becomes aware of a disturbing fact that will forever alter everything he once knew about Lunar Industries, his time on the moon, his family, and his very essence.
Moon exemplifies the strengths of minimalist filmmaking. With bland but functional set design, a singular and not particularly vast primary location, and minimal special effects, Moon must rely not on its look but rather its feel, its script rather than its action, its acting rather than its visual effects to succeed in a world where its strengths have so often been reduced to pesky necessities in lesser but louder films. Moon recalls the finest of story-driven filmmaking; only its subtly seamless special effects, convincing near-future setting, and production date differentiate it from genre classics of decades past. Indeed, the film's contemplative rather than action-oriented plot and unhurried rather than kinetic direction might come as something of a shock to audiences unfamiliar with more deliberate Science Fiction. Nevertheless, viewers willing to accept the Moon's drastically minimalist structure -- which is in every way reflective of the film's overreaching, powerful, and oftentimes emotionally draining themes -- will be richly rewarded with a cinematic masterpiece that poses more questions than it answers in the midst of a plot that is at once both complex and simple, layered with subtexts, secrets, and, indeed, a journey into the soul of a single man but a commentary on mankind itself.
Moon's deliberate and idea-oriented structure is never a hindrance to its pacing and, indeed, the film retains a mesmerizing quality throughout as the story reveals its secrets and slowly crescendos in a haunting third act that does inject slight elements of action and urgency into an otherwise calculated and contemplative pace. Much like the surface of the film's title location, Moon is a cold picture with a terrain that's difficult to explore but boundlessly fascinating to traverse. The picture takes viewers on an enthralling journey that is in many ways a microcosm of society as evidenced by its themes of isolation, abandonment, hopes come and gone, confusion, greed, truth, consequences, and misdirections. Few films have ever developed a structure of a superficial story, characters, and deeper themes that all at once are both simply and complexly played as those that define Moon. This is multi-layered, thought-provoking, and captivating stuff, the film the sort that demands repeat viewings and extensive contemplation on its many interconnected themes and meanings. What is a man? Is it corporeal existence? An invisible soul? Memories? Experiences? What is his beginning, and where is his end? Moon asks these questions both below the surface of its story and gradually injects them into the overreaching plot of the film, though as with any such philosophical posits, they are best left answered by those that choose to experience all Moon has to offer.
Finally, and on a much more familiar and easily identifiable scale, Moon boasts strong acting and superb production values that make this modern genre throwback classic complete. Sam Rockwell delivers a multi-faceted and altogether brilliant effort as the film's lead and solitary main character; like the film, his effort is reflective of the overall deliberateness and contemplative structure the film employs. His depiction of an ordinary man in unusual circumstances and the subsequent discoveries that come to alter his perspective on the worlds around him are played to chilling perfection, an altogether wonderful effort that's as spellbinding as the film itself. GERTY, Sam's lone companion, is voiced by Kevin Spacey; the Oscar-winning actor lends to the character a monotone, dry, and unassuming vocal personality, offset only by a small display that shows color representations of basic smiley faces that often prove more revealing of both GERTY's true motivations and mannerisms, not to mention how the machine's knowledge of events are conveyed through well-timed faces of happiness, regret, confusion, or secrecy. Additionally, the minimal housing and staging area as seen in the film becomes something of a character in and of itself; it's rather barren, sterile, and dull. Colors are limited primarily to instrument readouts, a few scattered posters and photographs, and several random objects. It's functional but bare, modern and minimalist but grimy around the edges, its lack of appeal disheartening and, like everything else in the film, makes more sense in light of the revelations throughout. Last but certainly not least is Composer Clint Mansell's (Requiem For a Dream) brilliantly haunting score. Unsettling but oddly appealing, the piano-heavy theme in particular makes for a dark, reflective piece that's the perfect compliment to a simple, mysterious, yet compelling and deeply-rooted film.
Moon Blu-ray, Video Quality
Moon descends onto Blu-ray with an exceptionally film-like 1080p, 2.40:1-framed transfer. Moon isn't the sharpest or most intricately-detailed Blu-ray in existence; the transfer reflects the film's minimalist set design and general lack of visual flair, but does so extraordinarily well, making for one of the finest Blu-ray transfers of a visually bland movie. The film occasionally goes soft around the edges, though it does seem in keeping with the Director-intended appearance. Otherwise, fine object detail can be most impressive; every little pebble and crater that make up the moon's somewhat uneven terrain can appear mesmerizingly rich and intricate, while the general grime and wear-and-tear that's ever-present around the station's interior edges and crevices contrast nicely with the smooth, monochromatic and visually dull walls, floors, doors, and other interior objects. The sterile environment seems broken up by only the occasional seam or a myriad of photographs and posters adorning Sam's living quarters, or the several Post-It Notes stuck to GERTY's body. Likewise, scratches, dents, and debris on the exterior of the lunar vehicles and facial hair stubble and bumps, bruises, and scratches on Sam's face are well-rendered. Black levels are strongly realized; flesh tones can appear a bit pale but also in-line with the clean, bright, and harsh lighting of the lunar complex; and a fine layer of handsomely-preserved film grain completes a fantastic transfer otherwise held back only by the film's deliberate lack of visual flair.
Moon Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Moon's DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack is, much like the video presentation, contemplative but precisely reproduced. Clint Mansell's superb score enjoys pinpoint clarity and a perfectly clear and appropriately haunting tone. The track delivers subtle but purposeful bass, often accompanying supportive sound elements, such as the closing of doors or sunshades around the station. More aggressive bass can be found in the rumbling of lunar harvesters, but the subwoofer is never tasked with simply throwing prodigious levels of bass into the listening area. Like the film, bass is reserved and purposeful, shining when need be but staying within parameters and never overextending its presence. Additionally, surround activity is often light but immersive and seamless; music flows into the back, an alarm klaxon blares through the listening area, and dozens of other effects both subtle and somewhat more aggressive create a rather seamless extension of the on-screen environments into the listening area. Even the most minute and forgettable sound effects -- the buzzing of an overhead light or the hum of the station's power grid -- are a testament to the fully-realized atmosphere built into the film's sound design and the DTS track's ability to so smoothly reproduce it. Dialogue -- both human and robotic -- is delivered with a natural tone. Moon's soundtrack may not be the most aggressive or action-packed, but it proves itself time and again to be just as exceptional in its own way.
Moon Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Moon features a healthy collection of extras, the package headlined by a pair of commentary tracks. The first features Writer/Director Duncan Jones, Director of Photography Gary Shaw, Concept Designer Gavin Rothery, and Production Designer Tony Noble. As with many of the multi-participant commentary tracks, this one can sometimes be more of an incoherent jumble than would be a one- or two-man track. Nevertheless, the comments are generally interesting and enlightening, the quartet discussing various issues as they relate to the making of the film and the surrounding story, amongst other and lighter observations, comments, and anecdotes from the set. Writer/Director Duncan Jones and Producer Stuart Fenegan team-up on track two. A more balanced and informative track, discussions are generally focused and to-the-point, the participants speaking on the creation and implementation of GERTY, pointing out scale models and discussing set location and design, budgetary constraints, shooting in an enclosed set, the film's themes and plot elements, and much more. Of the two, this track is the one fans with limited time will want to enjoy. Also included is Whistle, a short film directed by Duncan Jones (480p, 28:46).
The Making of 'Moon' (480p, 16:18) is a basic, no-frills piece featuring cast and crew discussing the plot (spoilers included), the challenge of Sam Rockwell's part in the film, the shooting process, set design, thematic elements, and more. Creating the Visual Effects (480p, 11:09), as the title implies, examines the construction of the film's effects with Visual Effects Supervisor Simon Stanley-Clamp. The nature of many of the effects discussed is connected to major plot points and spoilers. Next is Science Center Q&A With Director Duncan Jones (1080i, 20:48), a piece featuring the director fielding questions following a screening of Moon on March 16, 2009 at the Houston Space Center. Filmmaker's Q&A At the Sundance Film Festival (1080p, 11:15) again features the director answering audience questions following a screening. Also included is BD-Live functionality; the Moon theatrical trailer (1080p, 2:08); and additional 1080p trailers for District 9, The Boondock Saints II: All Saint's Day, Michael Jackson's This is It, Black Dynamite, Zombieland, It Might Get Loud, The Damned United, Coco Before Chanel, Snatch, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Blood: The Last Vampire.
Moon Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
A throwback Science Fiction film that's both wonderfully yet minimally crafted and with a far more complex meaning beneath its simple exterior that slowly rises to the forefront as the picture moves forward, Moon is a spellbinding work of cinematic art that's the antithesis of the big-budget and effects-laden blockbuster, but it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the "less is more" approach still works even in a cinema world that seems to have forgotten the importance of story, theme, and substance over flash, pomp, and volume. Accentuated by a winning performance from Sam Rockwell, superb direction, excellent set design, and a hauntingly effective score, Moon is a must-see picture that hearkens back to the days of cerebral Science Fiction, the film enthralling and not soon forgotten. Sony's Blu-ray release is equally splendid. The disc boasts a practically reference-grade technical presentation and a strong supporting cast of extras. Moon comes strongly recommended.
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Moon Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - January 12th - January 12, 2010
For many who watch the Kubrick classic '2001: A Space Odyssey' for the first time, it's often difficult to fully digest the eon-spanning story and epilepsy-inducing visuals into anything more than a confusing mess. Upon repeat viewings, however, a deeper story ...
• January Launch Window for Moon BD - November 9, 2009
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has officially announced that it will release 'Moon' on Blu-ray on January 12, 2010. This science fiction space-isolation drama has garnered critical acclaim and multiple awards – most recently at the Sitges International Fantastic ...
• Rumor: Moon Gets Earlier Launch - October 20, 2009
Contrary to earlier reports, it seems that 'Moon' will finally see the light just before the year's out. Several retailers have Duncan Jones's science-fiction movie (which just won multiple awards at the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival, including best ...
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