25 July 2009

First Impressions: Moon


I couldn't think of a really dirty title for Moon. I figured, as long as you're picturing a mooning buttocks, we should be all set.

I'm also trying to put into words the feelings I have after seeing a movie like this. Nothing to do with the plot or characters, just how to describe my let down expectations. I want to call it the "Spider-Man 3 Effect." I typify this as getting way to pumped up, or at least going in with pretty huge expectations, then when the actual film turns out to be not that good, you try to make some justification for it. I've had this experience with at least Terminator and Public Enemies this summer, while The Hangover and Transformers, for instance, met my expectations instead of coming up short.

Moon is a pretty neat film by all standards, but ultimately it wasn't a perfect Sci-Fi or great, innovative, mindfuck story as I was kind of pumping myself up for. Although considering that the story did not come close to my expectations may say something for its avoidance of the cliche in the genre it could have become. As is the norm of these First Impressions, Spoilers follow, baby.

First off, as must be said anywhere when mentioning this flick, Sam Rockwell is awesome. He's the man. Consistently and thoroughly. As virtually the only live human you see on screen at any given time, his performance is deep, emotional and nuanced. I don't usually pay that much attention to the acting really (pfft who needs acting) but it's pretty unavoidable in Moon. Now, that being said, here's the minutiae:

Let's start with my biggest problem with the movie, which was a lack of a pay-off for the really creepy Ghost Girl scenes towards the beginning. As the first of a few blatant "What the fuck..." moments, there's two flashes of a mysterious girl, both of which serve to distract the protagonist, Sam Bell, on both occasions leading to serious injuries. There's a lot of cool, if not cliched things that could have happened, is he going crazy, is the Moon haunted, who knows. But nothing really is ever mentioned of this chick again, so whatever.

My only guess is that this is the foreshadowing of his clone degeneration, which we quickly see on a physical standpoint. Perhaps the clones start to lose their minds prior to their physical composition, or just as an after-affect of the memory implants. Which of course leads me to another point that made this film more typical than I had anticipated. I guess Duncan Jones made it actually much less corny and ridiculous than it might have been. The doubling Sam isn't a ghost or from the future or anything, but rather simply, a clone.

What is cool is the fucked up shit and manipulation they put this guy through. "They" being the shady evil mega-corporation, of course. There's the usual garbage about what it means to be human, clone rights, 6th Day type stuff. The movie transcends some of this stuff, though, in its refusal to recline into what could be a typical action thriller, but maintains its classiness through supreme acting and impressive sets and effects for an extremely modest budget.

It's a journey of self more than anything else, though. Literally interacting with himself, Sam learns more about what kind of person he is, especially from his first few encounters where he (both of them) are naturally antagonistic towards each other. As Jerry Seinfeld says, "I can't be with someone like me. I hate myself!" ("The Invitations," S7;E24). The same rings true for a lot of Sam Bell. Once they start to understand each other (read, understand himself) they are able to work together and sympathize with each other (read, sympathize and forgive himself). Of course, neither is the original Sam Bell, who is implied to be at home with his daughter.

Arguably in this sense the clones have more feelings for themselves than the original did. The clones are capable of greater compassion than an actual human, which may only be natural that clones would have empathy for each other. On the other side though, the Evil Mega-Corporation may be humanitarian in their euthanasia for the degenerative clones, giving them what looks like a painless death when their bodies become frail and sick. Their deceptiveness, however, may not be without respute. The final thoughts of the movie is that the lying and treachery of corporations leading to the sacrifice of dozens of cloned humans is not worth the maintenance of global energy supplies. It seems like a weak message when put into those words, but that's why when you really think about it, it seems like a weaker movie that you don't want to accept as such. Damn the Spider-Man 3 Effect.

I don't think I can sum up my impressions much more than that. It's a fine movie, intelligent, great production values for a minuscule budget, great acting, but what could have been something about space madness or ghosts ends up grounded much more in reality than I think I wanted it to be. Which may probably be less campy and terrible, but I ended up slightly disappointed. It's like when you're watching a porno and the chick is smokin' hot in a tank top, but then she takes it off and she has some weird, off-center nipples or something. The tits are still big but you feel you just skimped off of perfection on something that seems like it would be easily fixed.

I have no idea if this review makes sense, but those are my thoughts.

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