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Moon (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 23, 2009 by  



Fantastic!  A wonderful performance from Sam Rockwell and an exciting, gripping psychological thriller from writer/director Duncan Jones.  Absolutely awesome on Blu-ray with detailed PQ, immersive AQ and entertaining and informative special features.

Images courtesy of © 2009 Lunar Industries Limited. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Moon

YEAR OF FILM RELEASE: 2009

DURATION: 97 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English, French, Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, French

RATED: R (Restricted for Language)

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics

RELEASE DATE: January 12, 2010

Directed by Duncan Jones

Original Story by Duncan Jones

Screenplay by Nathan Parker

Executive Producer: Trevero Beattie

Producer: Stuart Fenegan, Trudie Styler

Co-Producer: Mark Foligno, Alex Francis, Steve Milne, Nicky Moss, Deepak Sikka

Line Producer: Julia Valentine

Music by Clint Mansell

Cinematography by Gary Shaw

Edited by Nicolas Gaster

Casting by Manuel Puro, Jeremy Zimmerman

Production Design by Tony Noble

Art Direction by Hideki Arichi, Josh Fifarek

Costume Design by Jane Petrie

Starring:

Sam Rockwell as Sam Bell

Kevin Spacey (as the voice of GERTY)

Dominique McElligott as Tess Bell

Rosie Shaw as Little Eve

Kaya Scodelario as Eve

Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is nearing the completion of his 3-year-long contract with Lunar Industries, mining Earth’s primary source of energy on the dark side of the moon. Alone with only the base’s vigilant computer Gerty (voiced by Oscar-Winner Kevin Spacey, 1999 Best Actor, American Beauty) as his sole companion, Bell’s extended isolation has taken its toll. His only link to the outside world comes from satellite messages from his wife and young daughter. He longs to return home, but a terrible accident on the lunar surface leads to a disturbing discovery that contributes to his growing sense of paranoia and dislocation so many miles away from home. Moon is an engrossing, intelligent sci-fi thriller that ranks with genre classics like 2001: A Space Odyssey.

“Moon”, the 2009 sci-fi independent film written and directed by Duncan Jones is a multi-award winning film which was shot for $5 million.  Featuring a screenplay adaptation by Nathan Parker, composer Clint Mansell (“Blood: The Last Vampire”, “Doom”, “Sahara”) and cinematography by Gary Shaw (“Space Chase”).

The film received positive reviews from critics and had a limited release in a few theaters worldwide but the film made over $7 million worldwide and now the film receives its Blu-ray and DVD release stateside on Jan. 12, 2010.

“Moon” takes place in the future where technology has led to the extracting of helium-3 from lunar soil and sent to Earth in which the helium-3 is converted to energy and is now has become the primary source of energy for Earth.

The major company responsible for harvesting this soil is the corporation, Lunar Industries.  An employee named Sam Bell (played by Sam Rockwell, “Galaxy Quest”, “Frost/Nixon”, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”) has been serving three years in the moon at the lunar base named Sarang and watching over the harvesting machines.

He is joined by the robot on the ship GERTY (voice by Kevin Spacey, “American Beauty”, “L.A. Confidential”, “Superman Returns”) and all seems well.  For Sam, he’s excited to return back to Earth in a few weeks and join his wife Tess (played by Dominique McElligott, “Raw”, “The Philanthropist”) and his young daughter Eve.

Two weeks before he is able to return to Earth, Sam starts seeing this girl on the ship.  While outside of the base to obtain the helium-3 canisters, he sees the girl again and crashes his vehicle.  Sam is hurt but he is able to get into his suit for life support.

When Sam wakes up, he is awakened by GERTY.  GERTY tells Sam that he has been out since the accident and life seems to be normal but he sees GERTY communicating with people on Earth (which is not possible) and then he is told that a rescue crew is coming to the lunar base.  Sam doesn’ t know what is going on but he suspects something is going on and he manages to convince GERTY to drop the lockdown so he can check on something outside.

Sam manages to drive another vehicle and sees a crashed rover.  When he goes to check inside, he sees a body (inside a space suit) and it appears there are life signs.  He brings the body back to the base and when he sees the person inside the space suit, he is shocked that the person is him (or has a spitting image of him).

Now both Sam Bell’s are confused and are wondering how is it possible that they both can exist?  One that was on the ship for nearly three years and another that has been there for only a week?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Moon” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1) and with a budget of only $5 million for a sci-fi indie film (compared to “Sunrise”, another indie sci-film made for $50 million), you can only wonder how the crew was going to pull this one off and sure enough, they managed quite well.

Picture quality is quite solid as you can see the rocks and craters in the lunar surface with a very good amount of detail.  The CG work is quite impressive and skin tones are natural with one of the Sam’s looking really sick and pale, while blacks are nice and deep.  You can see the skin pores and bruises of Sam Bell, blood stains on the skin to the stains and post-it note residue that can be seen on the surface of GERTY.  A good amount of detail inside the lunar base and outside in the lunar surface.

There is a fine layer of grain and for the most part, the filmmakers managed to make things work with the budget that they had.  I was very impressed with the lunar sequences and the CG work.

As for the lossless audio, audio is presented in English, French, Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA and Spanish 5.1. Dialogue from Sam and GERTY are clear and understandable.  The soundtrack is very well done as you can hear the rovers and the harvesters on the lunar surface.  Each boom goes quite nicely via LFE and scenes that include surround and rear surround usage.

The film really has a good amount of kick through the bass featured in the special effects and one can expect their subwoofer(s) to be put into use with this film.  Music by Clint Mansell is well done and definitely sets the mood for the scenes in the movie.  But for the most part, I was very amazed by the lossless soundtrack for this independent sci-fi film.  Well done!

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Moon” comes with the following special features in standard definition, English stereo and Spanish & Portuguese subtitles:

  • Commentary with Writer/Director Duncan Jones, Director of Photography Gary Shaw, Concept Designer Gavin Rothery and Production Designer Tony Noble – An upbeat commentary that is more about the technical side of the film and the guys joking around about certain scenes.  A more in-depth talk about the scenes of the film, the props used and how certain scenes were shot.
  • Commentary with Writer/Director Duncan Jones and Producer Stuart Fenegan – A commentary that discusses the making of the film, how they would work with Sam Rockwell, the production side of the film and more.
  • “Whistle” a Short Film by Duncan Jones – (28:46) A short film by director Duncan Jones about an assassin that uses satellites to target his victims in London but then the assassin starts to feel remorse and ends up being the target.
  • The Making of Moon – (16:18) The making of “Moon” featuring director Duncan Jones, actor Sam Rockwell, other cast and crew discussing their experiences of making the film and behind-the-scenes footage.
  • Creating the Visual Effects – (11:08) Featuring the visual effects supervisor Simon Stanley-Clamp of Cinesite talking about the visual effects of the film.  From the creation of motion control,
  • Science Center Q&A with Director Duncan Jones – (20:40) A screening was given at the Science Center at NASA’s Space Center Houston and the following Q&A is featured.
  • Filmmaker’s Q&A at the Sundance Film Festival – (11:15) The intro by director Duncan Jones before the film screening and the Q&A session after the screening of “Moon” at the Sundance Film Festival.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (2:06) The original theatrical trailer for “Moon”.

EXTRA:

“MOON” comes with a slip case cover.

I have to admit that when I first saw the trailer, I thought that “Moon” would be a hybrid “2001: A Spacey Odyssey” and “Solaris” style of film and that it would lack originality.

But after watching this film, I was quite impressed by the storyline and also how awesome this low budget independent sci-film looked.  This film really rivals a lot of the big budget sci-fi films through a wonderful performance by Sam Rockwell.  The fact that he has to act with himself and making sure the two are similar people but different in circumstances because one has been in space for three years alone, while the other has been there for only a week is pretty interesting.  Again Rockwell is amazing in this film.  Kevin Spacey’s voice as GERTY definitely gave the film an eerie feeling and for the most part, it’s the visual surrounding of the film and how the visual effects really played apart in creating that lonely lunar atmosphere was well-done.

In fact, there are so many times throughout the film that I thought we were going to get the Solaris craziness, or crazy robot ala “2001: A Space Odyssey” or humans just losing it in space ala “Sunshine” and “Armageddon”.  But Duncan Jones who was influenced by sci-fi films from the 70’s and 80’s really did a solid job of creating a film that may have borrowed some themes (or pay homage) from those classic sci-films but managed to make “Moon” his own sci-fi film.

The whole concept of Helium-3 and harvesting it for energy for Earth was quite intriguing but also to learn that even in space, corporate greed is still in full-effect and the concept of long distance relationship (from Earth to the moon) was well-written.  And a few other important things that are part of the film that I don’t want to spoil for anyone but Duncan Jones did a really good job in bringing his story to the big screen.

And even with the $5 million dollar budget, I suppose I was not expecting too much from the film and thought everything would be shot outdoors.  But set design was pretty solid and the CG work, absolutely awesome looking and it all looks vibrant and detailed on Blu-ray.  And it was great to know there were a good number of special features including two major Q&A’s included on this release.

Overall, “Moon” was more than I expected and that is a great thing.  The film featured a solid performance by both Rockwell and Spacey, a solid screenplay and the right people to make this film look very awesome!

An awesome independent sci-fi film and psychological thriller worth watching and even worth owning!  Highly recommended!

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