Release Date(s)2009 (January 12, 2010)
Studio(s)Sony Pictures Classics (Sony)
- Film/Program Grade: A
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: B+
Excellent in nearly every detail, Moon is a fantastic one-man show and character study from director Duncan Jones, with a brilliant performance by Sam Rockwell. Running in the same vein as previous ‘marooned astronaut’ stories like Silent Running, Solaris and 2001: A Space Odyssey, Moon not only takes inspiration from classics of the genre but incorporates pieces of them, making for a unique experience.
Very well designed and executed using mostly simple film techniques and special effects, it could have easily been made within the same timeframe as a lot of the contemporaries it draws upon. Everything in the film drives the story forward and gives it solid ground to walk on. Visually, it’s not landmark, but its personification is simple for the story that it’s trying to tell. It doesn’t try to delve into heavy technical details or even grandiose science fiction. Those elements are there simply because they’re a part of the world and they’re not worth explaining. The focus here is the story, and it’s very well told. My only complaint about the film is the final seconds of it. With the last shot I was hoping for a silent resolution, but without giving too much away, that’s not what happened. Everything leading up to that moment, however, works really well.
There’s also another aspect about the film, which I guess I should mention. After seeing it, I wondered what it would have been like to have had Kevin Spacey in the lead rather than Sam Rockwell. I’m not saying that it should have happened, but it just seems like the natural thing to do. It probably would have been another Oscar vehicle for Spacey, of course, but it would have also left Sam Rockwell’s brilliant performance forever unknown to us. I guess it’s just best to ponder at the possibility. I’m positive that Kevin Spacey would have given a terrific performance because this is a perfect role for him to play, but I’m much happier to see Rockwell get his due and do more interesting character-driven work.
Although the environments and color palette of the film are both pretty sparse and lack a bit of visual finesse, the presentation here is very, very good. It’s a very sharp transfer, but does go just a bit soft at times (thankfully, not very often). Being that this film is mostly monochromatic, blacks, grays and whites are very deep and solid. Film grain is also very solid, and minimal. Although the picture is as sharp and detail-oriented as you could hope for, its deficient visual style holds it back just a bit. The English 5.1 DTS-HD audio also does its job very well. This isn’t a film filled with a lot of explosions or any of the other standard surround sound tableaus, but it’s a very well-balanced soundtrack nonetheless. Along with the aforementioned DTS track, you get two more in French and Portuguese. In addition, you get a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel. The subtitles include options for English, English SDH, French, Portuguese and Spanish. There are also optional subtitles for the commentary tracks, as well.
The extras go by pretty quickly, but there are some nice selections. You get two audio commentary tracks: one with writer/director Duncan Jones, director of photography Gary Shaw, concept designer Gavin Rothery and production designer Tony Noble, and the other with Jones again and producer Stuart Fenegan. The former is more of a discussion about the film amongst friends while the latter gets more into the technical details of the filming. Next is Duncan Jones’ short film Whistle. While it doesn’t tie to the film directly, it’s an excellent example of the man’s talent. The featurettes that follow are pretty short and sweet, including The Making of Moon (which breezes over the making of the film very quickly) and Creating the Visual Effects. The second featurette is a little more interesting than the first, but the real meat of the behind-the-scenes details can be found in the Q&As: the Science Center Q&A with Director Duncan Jones and a Filmmaker’s Q&A at the Sundance Film Festival. For my money, these are the two featurettes really worth digging into. Ending the extras is a BD-Live option, the film’s theatrical trailer and other trailers for District 9, Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, Michael Jackson’s This is It, Black Dynamite, Zombieland, It Might Get Loud, The Damned United, Coco Before Chanel, Snatch, Close Encounters of the Third Kind: 30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition and Blood: The Last Vampire.
I really wound up with a soft spot for this film over the course of watching it. The score is one of my favorites from any film that I’ve recently seen while Sam Rockwell is absolutely engaging in his role. Moon probably won’t be remembered for its science fictional aspects, but for its wonderful story, which is just how it should be. In other words, go out and pick this up this right away. You won’t be disappointed.
- Tim Salmons