Movie Review: Moon with Sam Rockwell

This is a review of the movie Moon, starring Sam Rockwell and featuring Kevin Spacey. Moon is one of those actor vehicle movies, like Castaway or Swiss Army Man. The kind of movie that’s almost like a one-man show. It’s about a character named Sam who lives on a moon base by himself in order to look after an energy production system. This movie came out in 2009 so I’m going to spoil the shit out of it because it’s going to be hard to explain anything about this movie without giving away a few plot twists.

The real premise of the movie is that Sam is a clone. The same you meet at the beginning has an accident out in space and then miraculously wakes up in the infirmary, which is logistically impossible. It’s then slowly revealed that (as you expect), this new Sam is clone, a sort of backup unit. New Sam finds old Sam and then the real acting showcase begins, as new Sam is more emotionally volatile and assertive and old Sam is more zen and a bit meeker as a result of spending 3 years in isolation.

As an acting showcase vehicle, I think it’s fine. There’s nothing explicitly wrong with it. I like Sam Rockwell a lot and I like him in this movie. I wasn’t blown away but it was highly competent acting, as you’d probably expect. As for the movie itself, it would fit right in during a season of Black Mirror, or on the DUST YouTube channel. The plot is sufficiently dystopian sci-fi and has a fair amount of plot twists, even beyond what I’ve revealed here.

If I think of it like a lost episode of Black Mirror, I think it’s a real success. As a movie, I’m not sure I would have been satisfied paying money for this movie in theaters. I don’t think it can carry a theater showing; as a streaming movie it works quite well.

One nagging issue I have with this movie is that at the very start, Sam hallucinates a creepy girl sitting in a chair and it’s never explained or addressed again. I also think there was a missed opportunity in obscuring the reality of the clone reveal by playing into Sam’s degrading mental state. Is he hallucinating this clone, or is it real? It’s a question the movie sets up but never takes the leap to ask.

It, like the many episodes of Black Mirror having to do with AI consciousness and the morality of abusing AI, brings up a similar thought experiment of: what is the humanity of a clone? The clones in this movie are treated as disposable, positing similar futuristic humanitarian concerns as we might have with robots or AI consciousness. In that way, it was reminiscent of the 2005 Michael Bay movie The Island.

I think the pacing of this movie is a little slow as well. Like Ad Astra, the original Solaris, The Martian, Interstellar and 2001, it sought to have an atmospheric, slow pacing to give a sense of mystery and foreboding. My concern is that where in 2001 is inventive, this type of pacing has become a trope and I’m not sure it added to the movie. The reason it worked well in Ad Astra, 2001 and Solaris is that those movies all had fantastic cinematography that made them functional as both a narrative film and a visual art piece. Moon is just a narrative film. Its cinematography is competent, but standard.

All in all, I’m left wondering: what was up with that chick in the chair?

That about covers it when it comes to my review of Moon starring Sam Rockwell. You can check it out on Netflix. Be sure to check the Movies Section for more content like this.

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