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Moon Movies

Friday 17 July 2009, 18:00

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

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By some uncanny coincidence, in the very week of the 40th anniversary of Neil Armstrong's moonwalk, a new British movie simply called "Moon" hits our screens, and a widely admired work of intelligence and cinematic brio it most certainly is. In view of these auspicious events here is my take on how man's history of celluloid trips to the moon from Fritz Lang to Duncan Jones has always been about telling a much older, much deeper story.

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    Comment number 21.

    I love the idea that, to all intents and purposes, we are to believe Mark sits in silence and contemplates things, hand on chin, in bauhaus-style settings until his blog camera is turned on.

    Thanks for this one though, love all this stuff, seen much of it, but many of the references I've just recently got a hold of, including Silent Running and The Ninth Configuration. Watching Solaris as I speak.

    I very much agree about the Sci-Fi genre being a front for another subject. It is often only in an out of this world setting, that we can artistically address very worldy questions in a direct manner.

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    Comment number 22.

    Another very quick point about production; having recently gone back through a lot of this material, and having a real look at some of the contemporaries of the likes of Kubrick and Scott, it makes the effect of the likes of Blade Runner, Alien and 2001 stand out so much. The pretenders often struggled to get a lot of the technicalities of these space effects just so.

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    Comment number 23.

    Thank you very much for your review. Not only am I just as excited about 'Moon' as before, but I've just seen 'Capricorn One' with 'The Ninth Configuration' next to come.

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    Comment number 24.

    I love sci-fi movies, and as has been stated before on this esteemed blog the science fiction bit is but a tool, a way to tell old stories in a new and interesting way.

    Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, girl turns out to be a pan dimensional brain eating alien from the outer reaches of the trefong system, girl eats half the crew, boy suddenly notices the quite stunningly beautiful girl he's been running around the ship with for the last 2 hours trying to avoid being eaten, boy blows up the ship but feels quite sad about it with a whistful look in his eye (ahh the old ones are the best!)

    As with any tool it is how you use it which is important, a short example if i may,

    director A gets a present from his wife, he opens the present and finds a new pen knife, he loves it, its the one with the 3 different blades and a cork screw , pair of scissors and even a self leveling laser pointer thing he may even say Phwoar a bit...

    director B gets a present from his wife, he opens it and finds a new pen knife, he loves it and starts using it to carve a love spoon for his wife... (sentimental i know but stick with me)

    give both these directors the same tool and from one you get a tragic tale of a woman who's loving marriage breaks down because her husband spends all his time obsessing about carving love spoons with an up lifting redemption at the end when the cheap knife she bought of the internet snaps in half and they rediscover there love, or you get a 3 hour film about a pen knife...

    i know which one i would rather watch

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    Comment number 25.

    Gotta love Blatty's dialogue. Just read The Ninth Configuration screenplay again recently. "Nuttier than a truckload of pralines"

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    Comment number 26.

    I think people have rushed a bit prematurely to praise "Moon", overlooking the fact that the plot's pretty weak and the model sfx work made it look like an episode of "Space 1999".

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    Comment number 27.

    I agree with you, Shuzenbaags. I thought the film was plot-lite. Mark says it's a film of ideas. Well there's one big idea which once it is revealed, there is not a lot left. Perhaps some exploration of the character emotions but not a lot else. Therefore, if the "secret" is known beforehand there is not much point in going to see the film. In contrast, if you knew the secret of "The Crying Game" before seeing the film, it is only an element of the film and would not ruin the whole story. The difference is that when the secret is revealed in "The Crying Game" it has a big impact or shock factor (not quite enough to rush to the toilet to vomit, though), whereas in "Moon" when the secret becomes apparent, it's more of an "Oh, Yeah" moment than an emetic.

    **** SPOILER **** (NO, Not the big one!)

    What was with that final sequence where a disembodied voice of a appears to be coming from the pictured earth? I realize he didnt want to leave the reference point of the Moon where we have been for the whole movie but i think it would have been better to leave it out or actually show the scene from the earth perspective.

    It reminded me of that clip of the Clangers witnessing a general election on earth from the moon. Duncan Jones may not be old enough to have seen the original episode but the clip has been shown many times. The effect was a comic one and probably not intended (A bit like when Nic Cage's disembodied voice comes out of the Wicker Man at the end of the disastrous re-make although I think that might have been at least partly intentionally funny).

    **** END OF SPOILER *******

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    Comment number 28.

    Can I also add that the film lacks internal logic and / or is inconsistent?
    1) The apparition that Sam sees causing him to burn his hand / crash the lunar vehicle - who was it meant to be? I thought that it was his daughter (she seemed to bear a striking resemblance). If it was, how would he know what she looked like since this discovery is not made until the last quarter of the film once Sam has moved beyond the jamming transmitters. If not, who and why is she there?
    2) Are we to assume that the clones have a 3 year life cycle? If so, then surely the one we saw stored in the "Secret Room", would be showing the same signs of decay? If not, why was the "crash" Sam falling apart?
    3) When the company do show up, one of them is armed. I assume that was to shoot the surviving Sam in the crashed cab? Why? His lifespan was nearly up?
    4) The storage chamber bit only worked if you haven't seen "The Prestige" which had a similar (and far more effective)moment. What was the point of "storing" them anyway?
    5) The message "glitch" from the wife. Where was that meant to lead?
    6) The Spacey Robot. Was it controlled from Earth/taking orders (implied in the overheard conversation) or independent. If it was aware of the duplicity of the management surely its duty was to uphold the Company policy and not effectively switch sides? If there was meant to be some sort of comment about "humanising" machines, then it, again, fell short. Where was the conflict?
    7) Are we to assume that clones are only used on the moon? Surely such a development would make clones a regular feature on Earth?
    I wanted to like this film, I really did, but these plot holes and (I agree) poor ending made it impossible. I ended up feeling as though I'd been looking for profundity in a product where there was none.

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    Comment number 29.

    Just wanted to add myself to the list of people who went out and bought Ninth Configuration on Dr K's advice. Not being an Exorcist fan I wasn't expecting much, but really loved it. Reminded me, weirdly, of Mike Nichols' Catch-22 adaptation.

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    Comment number 30.

    An interesting review by Mark Kermode. I saw Moon with a friend who recommended it to me. I am not that much of a fan of sci-fi films, but I loved Moon, utterly compelling it was, wonderful performances by Sam Rockwell and Kevin Spacey.

    My friend and I went to see a special screening of Moon as a double-bill, alongside the film Outland and it was being hosted by none other than Zowie Bowie (a.k.a Duncan Jones), the director of Moon. He was very charming and Outland was clearly a source of inspiration for Moon.

    I also hope that Moon gets shown in more cinemas, as it regrettably seems to have a limited release.

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    Comment number 31.

    I still need to check out Moon. Must put it top of my list. I think Edinburgh film festival honoured it with a prize last year. Solaris I love, i can never decide between it and Stalker, both equally confusing. I did a little comparison of both versions of Solaris.



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