17 02 2010

It’s pretty obvious that Duncan Jones’ “Moon” draws a great deal of inspiration from sci-fi classics like “Alien.”  Jones manages to nail one aspect of these movies: their simplicity.  However, this works directly against Jones’ ambitious movie, which tries so hard to have nuances and complexities.  But the unfortunate reality is that the story is actually quite vapid and dull.

Jones’ script is most urgently lacking in emotion.  Sure, it’s a subtle portrait of Sam Bell, the Lunar Industries employee on the moon base, and the steep toll that three years of solitude takes on his mental state.  But is it too much to ask for hints of passion or fire?  I don’t mind a build-up, yet Jones doesn’t give us much of a payoff for our waiting.  “Moon” is tormentingly boring to a point where I had to repeatedly wake myself up while watching it.

The only fascinating thing to watch here is Sam Rockwell.  The movie is his soliloquy, and the only actor that I can think gave a comparable performance in such a situation is Tom Hanks in “Cast Away.”  Hanks he is not, but Rockwell manages to command and excite where the script and movie in general doesn’t.  The two forces effectively cancel each other out, and we are left with a product that is just a smidgeon above average.

I can see “Moon” becoming a cult hit in the future.  It has the fan base, as shown by the great volume of people who signed Jones’ Internet petition for Rockwell’s consideration for the Best Actor Oscar.  It lacks the flavor or originality to score any sort of large public following, but I think a select group sees a lot more in this directorial debut than I do.  B- /