In recent years, the studio blockbuster has pretty much taken sci-fi hostage. Releasing big budgeted, small brained popcorn movies notable for loudness and following pretty much the Aliens template. James Cameron made some good movies, but his legacy has done more harm then good. Anyways, once in a blue moon we get a low-key, clever movie that shows us what sci-fi can really do when some brain is applied. Moon seems to be 2009's entry into this very select group.
The story follows astronaut Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), posted alone on a lunar mining base in the near future. In between monitoring various drills, he battles loneliness with only HAL like computer Gerty (Voiced by Kevin Spacey) for company. But is he truly alone? Interestingly, the film reveals its twist maybe half way through, not to be spoiled here in a an act of unexpected decency on my part, but impressively doesn't decrease in quality after it shows its hand. Its nice to see that mystery isn't the only card that genre movies have to play and they can be good on their own terms. The film is the kind of slow-burn, high quality movie that is in such low supply. It builds its mood effectively and first time director Duncan Jones, the artist formerly known as Zowie Bowie, does an impressive job of creating an intense visual atmosphere. The film's main strength though, as expected, is leading man Sam Rockwell who delivers yet another terrific performance in a career increasingly full of them. He has pretty much become the indie leading man of choice and he certainly lives up to that title here. He gives so many different dimensions to the role that roughly half way through the film transforms into a showcase for him and is all the better for it.
When ideas are allowed into the world of cinematic science fiction it is always a wonderful thing, but when this is combined with great acting it makes this a film definitely worth seeking out.