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Movie Review: Moon

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WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS A MAJOR PLOT SPOILER.

I’m sure that the search for good energy sources began thousands of years ago. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that in the future we will extend that search to the moon.

In the movie Moon, Helium 3 is a moon rock that can be mined, processed, and then sent to the Earth to be converted into energy. Sam Bell (played by Sam Rockwell) is a contract astronaut who makes sure the mining machines, called harvesters, continue to function at maximum efficiency.

With the exception of Gerty, a protective computer program, Sam is alone on the moon. In his spare time, he builds models, exercises, and sends and receives messages to his wife and daughter on Earth.

Because Sam has only two weeks left of his three-year contract, he’s counting down the days. But of course, that’s when Sam’s troubles really begin. Away from the base, he accidentally crashes his moon buggy into one of the harvesters and is knocked unconscious.

The twist is that Sam wakes up and finds that a duplicate Sam has rescued him. Of course, both Sams are shocked to find out that they are not unique and that the corporation has been lying to them about a lot of things.

Actor Sam Rockwell plays Sam Bell and is a pleasure to watch. I’ve seen Rockwell in other movies, but he really shines in this movie. And Kevin Spacey is great as the voice of Gerty.

Technically, I couldn’t find fault with Moon. The editing, lighting, and special effects are all fine. And considering contemporary movie production costs, this movie can be classified as a low budget film because it was made for only $5 million.

Despite the technical success of this movie, I have two complaints: the pacing and the storyline. The pacing is incredibly slow. And as soon as I saw the two Sams together, the rest of the movie was very predictable.

If you’re a regular science fiction fan, you’ve run across clone stories many times before: consider the movies Multiplicity and The Sixth Day. And I’m not even listing the books and short stories that feature clones in their stories. Moon’s storyline brings nothing new to the typical clone story. If you want to see great clone storylines, check out the TV series Battlestar Galactica.

I can’t quite figure out why the story wasn’t more original. I know there are actors and directors who don’t want to see any other movies or read any books on a subject they are about to film or write about. Did Moon director Duncan Jones and screenwriter Nathan Parker avoid viewing clone films or TV shows and avoid reading science fiction books featuring clones? And in their ignorance of the rich history of clones in science fiction, did they end up reinventing the wheel?

Is this one of the biggest problems new directors and screenwriters face: that it’s all been done before? Should they research a subject like clones and then be influenced by what they see or read? Or should they avoid all research and then take the risk of duplicating storylines, characters, and themes that have already been done?

Let’s say a major studio hires a director or a screenwriter to do a western. If that director or screenwriter hasn’t watched a lot of westerns, is there a risk that the director or screenwriter will produce a western that is very, very similar to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or Silverado?

A movie viewer who isn’t a hard core science fiction fan will find Moon to be a good movie. But for those of us who are hard core science fiction fans, this clone should be chucked out of the airlock.

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