Archive for the ‘Moon’ Category

Review: "Moon" Shines

July 20, 2009

I’d been hearing buzz for the smart, low-budget, limited release movie Moon by the time I got to see it in theaters last Saturday. My expectations were high, and I wondered if this film would do everything many people had said it would. Did I question my humanity? Did the movie ask what it means to be human?

Not as much as I assumed it would. But it did make me think, and is certainly a cerebral movie.

It’s sometime in the future, and Earth has started using clean energy that comes in the form of Helium-3, an isotope I wasn’t sure existed, but actually researched after the film. Turns out that it does, that it’s valued highly for nuclear fusion research, that it’s incredibly rare on earth, but that many people think it is on the Moon in abundance. Three points for accuracy. Anyway, an energy company is the sole supplier of Helium-3, and it gets all of it from a mining station on the dark side of the moon. The entire program is managed by one lonely occupant, who is under contract for three years before returning to earth, named Sam Bell, played by Sam Rockwell. With just two weeks remaining before returning home, Sam is starting to feel the weight of isolation of being away from Mother Earth for three long years. His only human contact is from pre-recorded messages from the company executives, and his wife and daughter. There’s a satellite for live communication, but it’s strangely broken and not set for repair any time soon. The job is taking its toll, Sam starts to have strange hallucinations and is on the cusp of insanity. Soon he finds himself interacting with somebody identical to him in every way, and also happens to go by the name Sam Bell.

He’s (They’re?) assisted at the base by GERTY, a high tech artificial intelligence system that speaks with voice of Kevin Spacey and shows emotion with the use of a select few smiley face emoticons on a small screen. What at first comes off as a creepy, HAL copy cat thankfully proves to be something much different.

I realized in October my freshman year of college, when I was still meeting new people in a place where I had known nobody coming in, that I had gone the longest duration of time without a hug. It was an odd, sad and sobering fact; something that had been daily routine for me, a natural human interaction, had suddenly vanished in my life. This movie takes that to the nth degree, viewing how somebody might act completely devoid of human contact. We then get what can only be described as a a ‘mind-fuck’ as we try to discern the circumstances surrounding this incident. Is he a clone, or has he completely snapped? The movie does a fantastic job of making it ambiguous and forcing you to think to discern what you think is true. In the end, I’m not sure it ever really tells you.

The cinematography on the film is perfect. It has a dated feel to it, where the CGI looks like it could be little models, but if it were little models it looks CGI. It gives it a rugged, realistic feel of what it would probably be like to drive a Humvee across the surface of the moon. Accompanied by a fantastic piano-heavy score by Clint Mansell, known best for his haunting music in Requiem for a Dream.

To say Sam Rockwell did a good job here is like saying Leonardo Da Vinci painted a pretty picture with the Mona Lisa. He has the whole spectrum of emotions to display, from despair to borderline madness, and it’s his performance that gives the film much of its intrigue. Also considering the entire movie consists of him talking to himself, it’s more than impressive to see what he’s done.

If Moon is playing near you, go see it. It’s the smart sci-fi film of the summer to balance out the bombastic fun that was Star Trek. My brain certainly churned more in this movie than in any other movie this summer, and it’s certainly one of the best releases so far. The rare gem of a film that comes out during the season of popcorn fanfare.



Is Moon As Predictable As I Think It Is?

June 11, 2009

That is the preview for the movie Moon, which comes out this Friday. It’s a slower paced, intelligent (I love how the trailer says “brainy”) sci-fi pic that’s gotten pretty great reviews so far. But based on that preview, I think I have the entire movie mapped out. I’m not warning you of spoilers, because I know squat about this movie, so this is all pure speculation.

From what I gather, he’s the sole person in command of the helium-3 extraction on the moon. His only company is the creepy, and guaranteed to be evil, HAL-like AI voiced by Kevin Spacey (which might as well say “I’m afraid I can’t let you do that, Sam”). He seems to get to call home every now and then and talk to his wife and daughter, whom he appears to love very much. But the trailer introduces someone who looks exactly like him, which just slams the word “CLONE” across my corneas. It seems to be quite clear what happens. LUNAR, the mining company, has a collection of Sam clones that it uses in three year increments (for some typical reason like ‘after three years, a mind in solitude deteriorates). They fill him with false memories, have actors play the parts of his wife and child to keep him sane, then let him die when his time is up and its time for the next Sam to show up.

Did I just call the whole movie? Likely. Will I still see it? If it’s shown near me. For one, there’s the off chance that I’m wrong (that’s happened once) and he’s just crazy. They could also throw in a lot of mind-messing twists and turns along the way. Maybe he goes crazy AND is a clone, just for good measure. But it looks like, despite a predictable plot, it could get pretty philosophical and ask questions about humanity and human nature, which is pretty fun. Or, apparently, “Brainy.” Whoever called it that might as well have said, “It’s not not smart.”

And what about that quote, “One of those rare gems in the sci-fi genre.” Really? As if sci-fi has just shit-tons of horrible movies, some grossly larger proportion compared to that of other genres? Look at how many classic sci-fi films there how, how many have impacted the film industry? Whatever pompous ass-hat made that claim should be mushroom stamped.

That is all.

This Week In Blockbusters: The Dry Spell Continues

June 9, 2009

We’re moving into the next week of the smaller blockbuster movies. You know, those that only make 45 million in their opening weekend.
Last weekend, despite early predictions, The Hangover edged out Up by just a few hundred thousand dollars. It made some 45 million to Up‘s 44.1. A close race to be sure. The Hangover is an hysterical movie, so I’m glad it’s performing well. They’re already talking about a sequel. Seriously.

But it will be interesting to see if this weekend will top last, or if we will have our lowest opening so far this summer. When it comes to bankable movies, there’s only two worthy of mention. Imagine That brings Eddie Murphy to another family comedy, hopefully one that performs better than his previous forays in this territory. It doesn’t have too many early reviews, which often isn’t a great designator in a company’s faith in a movie. But of the four that it has so far, three of them are positive, putting it at a cool 75% on Rotten Tomatoes. That beats Pluto Nash by a landslide.

Imagine That tells the story of a financial executive (Murphy) who finds himself in a business rut. His daughter (Yara Shahidi) has quite the active imagination, and dreams up a fantasy world with countries and monarchs all named after huge American corporations. When her drawing shows two of these characters getting married, it soon follows that the companies with the respective names decide to merge with one another. Realizing his daughter’s strange prophecy, the businessman will use her and whatever fairy she’s getting her information from to help him get ahead. And it’s likely he and his daughter will become close. Just throwing that out.

Family films have the strange power to make crap-loads of cash. I say this week-end might be a slump, but I’ve seen predictions for this movie upwards of 65 million. It certainly could happen, I just feel like I’ve heard very little about it. I’m not sure it’s been marketed well, unless it’s only been previewed on Nickelodeon. Or perhaps I’m just missing it. But it seems to be one of those movies that tries to appeal to adults, so I feel like I should be seeing it everywhere for it to rack in that much cash. Well, only time will tell. Come Monday we’ll see just how much another family friendly Eddie Murphy comedy can pull in.

Excitement Buzz: 5/10 

Also coming out this week is the action/suspense film The Taking of Pelham 123. It stars Denzel Washington as Walter Garber, as a lowly dispatcher of the New York City subway system. The described ‘mastermind thief’ of a villain is portrayed by John Travolta, who I happen to love in bad-guy rolls. Swordfish, Broken Arrow, hot damn he can take cartoony villains and make them menacing. In this movie, he even sports a goatee, which means he’ll be willing to kill even more people than usual. Sweet.

Ryder (Travolta) along with three lackies hijack Pelham 123 in New York City’s subway and demands a large amount of money to be delivered within th hour, or people start to die. A plot elegant in its simplicity, no? Ten years ago, this would be pitched as ‘Die Hard’ on a subway train, if only this weren’t a remake of a 1974 movie. Anyway, he will only speak to Walter, who has extensive knowledge of the subway system. Walter has one question that nags him the entire film: even if they get the money, how do they plan to escape? I don’t know what it’ll be, but it’s going to be sweet. I imagine extensive use of dynamite, a wrecking ball, a helicopter, gold fish crackers, a catapult, the monster from Lost, and Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

It’s a standard action film, but it’s got big names in the leads, which will certainly draw viewers in (especially since Denzel is sooooo dreamy). Most predictions for this film are in the 30 million range, so Eddie Murphy might beat Denzel after all.

Excitement Buzz: 7/10

And finally, a movie I expect will make much less than it deserves, the new cerebral science fiction movie Moon comes out this Friday. Starring Sam Rockwell and Kevin Spacey, the films tells the story of astronaut Sam Bell (Rockwell), who has lived on the moon alone for three long years, extracting the rare gas Helium-3 for a company called Lunar, which says it holds the key to solving Earth’s energy crisis. When he’s only two weeks away from the end of his tenure on the moon, when he plans to retire wealthy and make up for lost time with his wife and daughter, he begins to feel odd and has aural and visual hallucinations. The mystery unfolds as Sam discovers Lunar has been less than honest about their intentions and that the life he has created might not be what he had perceived. It’s at a 100% at Rotten Tomatoes after 19 reviews, so if that trend continues we could have an excellent, insightful science fiction film, more akin to 2001 than to Star Trek.
Excitement Buzz: Me: 8/10, Females: 1/10. 
Angry comment of the hour: In searching for pictures of Moon, I searched “Moon film,” aware that searching for ‘Moon’ would give me, well, pictures of the moon. I didn’t get at all what I wanted. Instead, I got poster after poster of New Moon, the Twilight sequel that makes self castration seem like an attraction at Disneyland.