2 Stars - Lacks Depth
What is most disappointing about Duncan Jones’ film “Moon” is the lack of depth and surprise in the story. Exploring the nature of humanity and our need for relationship, the premise was promising: How would a single human being living alone on a moon station with only a computer as a companion to cope with loneliness and isolation? And knowing our need for relationship, why would anyone ask someone to do that? The question is avoided, but in a way, that raises other questions.
The original story by Jones and the screenplay by Nathan Parker centers on an isolated man who is finishing his three-year contract with an energy company as the sole caretaker of their moon-based enterprise. Having discovered a way to harvest the helium captured in the rocks of the moon, the company has four huge strip-mining machines that traverse the moon’s terrain. They share the biblical names of the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The caretaker of this huge enterprise that is providing most of the earth’s energy is Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell).
Struggling to keep his sanity, Bell has begun to talk to himself. With only two weeks to go, he desperately misses his wife Tess (Dominique McElligott) and daughter Eve (Kaya Scodelario). Due to damage in their communication satellite, Bell cannot interact with them in real time. He can only see recorded videos of their past communications. He dreams of being reunited with them. His longing and isolation create hallucinations.
Bell’s computerized companion is GERTY (voice by Kevin Spacey) whose interactive program is hauntingly familiar to that of HAL 9000 in “2001: A Space Odyssey.” The nature of their relationship is part of the interest of the film.
Bell becomes increasingly ill as his time for return to earth approaches. With headaches and irritability, with emptiness and hallucinations, he has an accident with one of the large harvesters. It is this event that causes him to discover the truth about who he is.
The questions of our social nature and how it impacts our identity are important ones. But the answers this film gives are, in the end, shallow. They are more anti-business than pro-humanity. They lack the dynamic expected by the answer that is given. A good first effort and filmed in only 33 days, perhaps Jones’ third film will provide more depth.
Discussion for those who have seen the film:
How did you experience the interaction of the two Bells? Did it have the dynamic tension you would expect from such a discovery? Why would the original Bell give his genes and his memories, including memories of his wife and daughter, to his clones?
Do you believe it would be moral to awaken and kill clones every three years? Are clones human? If not, what is missing?
The decision Bell makes to destroy the jamming towers means that the new clone can have real-time interaction with earth. What do you think happened next?
The human compassion demonstrated by GERTY is unlikely. Or is it? Do you believe computers may someday be able to have compassion, or would it only be a simulation that humans create to give us the illusion that machines have feelings for us?