All right, I told myself. It’s time to stop watching the crappy action flicks, at least for a couple of days. You’re already behind on your yearly movie goal, and it’s only February. Get back to The List.
Which is why, at 1:30 in the morning, I found myself curled up on my couch, hanging out with my cat, and watching Duncan Jones’s highly praised science fiction film, Moon.
On one hand, I was interested in seeing Moon because it was so highly praised and, also, because it had Sam Rockwell in it. I mean, who doesn’t like Sam Rockwell? On the other hand, that’s exactly why I watched Matchstick Men a few years ago, and blasphemy alert: I didn’t like that movie at all. More importantly, I was worried that this was going to turn into exactly the kind of movie that I hate: the protagonist appears to be going crazy for two hours, only to (shockingly, oh so shockingly) turn out to be someone else’s imaginary friend, or dead, or locked up in an insane asylum somewhere. Of course, there are movies that have done these kinds of twists very well, but most of them usually suck pretty hard, and I’m pretty critical of any ending that strikes me as cheap. I wanted to like Moon, but I was very worried that when I finished watching it, I would have to go on a S’more Pop Tart binge just to purge myself of excess irritation in the bloodstream.
Thankfully, this did not happen. Actually, I liked Moon a whole lot, but I don’t even know how to begin to talk about it without spoiling people who haven’t sat down and watched it themselves. So do not continue to read if you have not seen this movie. Please. Just go rent it. I highly recommend.
For everyone else . . . here there be spoilers.
Okay, if you haven’t seen Moon and you just kept reading because you’re a rebellious little shit, well, shame on you, sir. I am making the frowny face at you now.
Otherwise, here are some SPOILERIFIC notes:
1. From almost the second Moon started, I felt myself on alert, watching for every single detail that might be a Clue. For instance, Sam Rockwell is wearing a yellow shirt while exercising in his first scene, but I didn’t see what the shirt said. Naturally, I had to rewind it. Potential Clue!!!
(And, well, it wasn’t exactly a clue, but “Wake Me When It’s Quitting Time”? Ouch. That’s the deadly sting of the katana named “Irony” piercing you in the guts right now, buddy.)
Like I said before, it’s not that movies with big twists at the end are necessarily bad—sometimes, they’re really quite good—but often, this kind of buildup leads to a massive letdown, and often the characters and even the whole story can suffer at the expense of making “a twist that’ll totally blow their minds, man” . . . especially when it doesn’t. A twist ending like that usually reads like the director is trying way too hard, and so lately I’ve preferred movies that more gently reveal what’s happening rather than punching you in the face with a, “Yeah, bitches! I bet you didn’t see that one coming at you!” moment.
Which is why . . .
2. . . . I liked that the Big Twist happens in the first thirty minutes of the film, and the rest of the movie is really just dealing with it. The Sam Bells continue to discover things as the film progresses, but once you figure out that they’re clones, it’s less about ohmygodwhatthefuck’shappening and more about the actual characters and what they’re going to do now.
3. I did actually have to pause the movie early on, though, so I could give myself a chance to think: Now, okay, so one Sam Rockwell is watching the other Sam Rockwell, and the Sam Rockwell that’s lying down is the . . . first Sam Rockwell? I think? I think? Oh, wait, I get it! I get it! HA!
I do like that the movie just continues without anyone ever stopping to explicitly explain what just happened to the audience. You know, like there’s always that one character on a TV show who has to summarize what all the other characters already know for all the slow people watching? I like that this movie doesn’t have that character.
4. Of course, that’s probably because this movie doesn’t have very many characters at all. There’s Three-Year Sam, One-Week Sam, and Gerty the computer. That’s about it. And considering that Gerty’s pretty much just an arm, a creepy emoticon, and Kevin Spacey’s voice . . . yeah, it’s fair to say that Sam Rockwell is more or less doing a one-man show on the moon, here.
And as far as Sam Rockwell is concerned . . . he’s good. He’s very, very good. I’ve been thinking since watching Resident Evil: Afterlife that I’d like to see a movie that really deals with clones in an interesting way—you know, how they’re all the same person and how they’re also not, how they understand identity and how they look at one another—and I love how Sam Rockwell portrays both Sams in the film. In a way, it’s less like clones than time travel, really: you’re seeing how one Sam sees a younger, angrier version of himself. Of course, that happens in the Star Treks every other episode, but never quite as convincingly or as movingly as this.
5. As far as Kevin Spacey goes, well, obviously, Gerty isn’t nearly as challenging of a role as the Sam Clones are, but he does provide some very good voice work here, and, surprisingly, I really like Gerty. I guess I figured early on that he would probably end up being the sinister villain of the piece (and, man, was I bored with that idea almost before the movie started) but instead Gerty is kind of cool, and I like that he helps the Sams in the end.
Although, seriously, those emoticons? Yeah, they’re still ominous and creepy.
6. Of course, everyone who talks about this movie also has to talk about 2001: A Space Odyssey, which, unfortunately, I cannot do because I haven’t SEEN 2001: A Space Odyssey yet. (Yeah, yeah, it’s on The List. I’m still not exactly looking forward to it.) So, all the comparisons that everyone is determined to make between the two films? These will not be made by me.
Also, as far as scientific accuracy? Don’t know, don’t care, moving on.
7. If I have one problem with this movie . . . and, yes, the more I think about it, the more it is a serious problem for me . . . it’s that Three Year Sam’s hallucinations in the beginning of the movie don’t make logical sense. Because they aren’t just any random hallucinations that he’s having . . . those, I wouldn’t mind; he’s already getting sick, after all . . . but the fact that he’s seeing his 15-year old daughter, the very same daughter that he still thinks is a little baby girl . . . no, that doesn’t work for me. And I’ve read Duncan Jones explanation for it, the whole identical twin thing, but honestly? It doesn’t play for me, and unfortunately, that’s a bigger issue than I really want it to be. Because I like this movie a lot, but those hallucinations don’t read to me as mystical or interesting. They read to me as mistakes.
8. On the upside, Clint Mansell? My God, that man can score the shit out of a movie.
9. I knew I was invested in the characters when One Week Sam, all squared away in his escape pod, hopped back out of it with only minutes to spare before the “rescue team” found him. I actually yelled at my computer, “What are you doing?” and made frantic hand motions at the screen in the hopes that he would follow them back to his damn delivery vessel.
10. Finally, Moon wasn’t nearly as depressing as I had feared it would be—sad, sure, but not completely soul-crushing, and I was grateful for that. This movie has some nice, little moments of levity here and there, and overall, I really liked the balance of the entire film.
Conclusion: A really well-made, interesting science fiction movie that gives Sam Rockwell a lot of room to show off his impressive range. Without the random daughter hallucinations, I think it would have been a solid A for me, but with them?
Moral: Clones are people, too. Also, try being less angry. Temper tantrums aren’t as adorable as you might think. And, do you really have to do a three year solo stint on the MOON to make some cash?