“What are you doing Dave?” If you don’t know where that line came from, you’ve probably been confused more than once. It’s arguably the most famous line ever uttered by a robot, HAL, the artificial intelligence of “2001: A Space Odyssey.” If you’ve never seen 2001, well, you’re luckier than me. I would gladly unsee that film and give up knowing who HAL is and what he said.
I see you have that confused look on your face again. You must be wondering what 2001 has to do with “Moon.” “Moon” is a similar film to 2001, but is superior in nearly every way. For all you 2001 fans that are trying to figure out where I live, you need to come to grips with the fact that 2001 is not a good movie. If it was, they wouldn’t have had to write a book after the film’s release to explain it.
“Moon’s” similarities to 2001 include an artificial intelligence (GERTY), a lone crew member in space, and … nothing else (although, there is an homage to 2001’s psychedelic ending). I’ve seen reviews drawing more parallels and I’m telling you they are wrong. “Moon” is everything 2001 isn’t; a movie with a plot, great dialogue and character interaction, and is entertaining, no monkeys required.
In “Moon,” Sam Rockwell mans an energy mining camp on the dark side of the moon. He is near the end of a three year contract and is looking forward to returning to his wife and daughter back on Earth. When not performing his job duties, he keeps himself busy by caring for plants, working a wooden model of a town, watching old reruns of “Bewitched,” and conversing with GERTY. Before I go on, it’s important you know that GERTY is voiced by Kevin Spacey. Think about that for a couple seconds and I won’t even need to describe to you how perfect that casting move was.
While attending to one of the massive Helium-3 collectors, he is distracted by what he thinks is a person standing on the lunar surface and smashes into the collector. He wakes in the base’s infirmary and GERTY tells him that he was in an accident. If you are paying attention, you should immediately question how he got back to the base. After a few days, he is able to walk, but is not allowed back outside. He tricks GERTY into letting him go out, where he finds the wrecked rover and collector. Much to his dismay, he also finds a body in the wreckage, still alive, and discovers that it is him. This is the point of the movie that really sucks you in.
Like Rockwell, I spent the next few minutes trying to figure out what was going on. They don’t take long to reveal it, but I’m not going to spoil that for you (I’ve said too much already). This movie was too good to ruin its best part. The rest of the movie is the discovery of the truth of the situation and how Rockwell is going to solve the problem. Getting back to the 2001 correlation, you’re also wondering when GERTY is going to turn on Rockwell like HAL did in 2001. If you listen to the dialogue, GERTY gives you clues as to what is going to happen (that’s called foreshadowing, something completely missing from 2001).
If you think I’m being a little hard on 2001, it’s important that you know “Moon” was made for a scant five million dollars. You read that right, Rockwell and Spacey in a sci-fi flick that takes place entirely on the moon for a quarter of what it costs to ink Tom Cruise to be in a film. Everything was done on a set in London and models were used for all of the scenes that are normally done by computers these days. The most amazing thing about it was how real they were able to make the lunar surface scenes look. That’s what really proves that this film is superior to 2001 and is one of the best sci-fi films in recent history.
What I want you to take away from this is that movies like “Moon” don’t come around very often. It comes across like a really good short story (it’s only 93 minutes), which tend to be some of the best stories (not just in sci-fi) you’ll ever read. They get straight to the point, give you few characters, and refrain from becoming overly complex or confusing. “Moon” is exactly the opposite of 2001; a great movie.
Rating: Worth every penny and you don’t have to buy a book after it’s over.