Thursday, June 4, 2009


By D.E.Levine

Director: Duncan Jones
Producers Stuart Fenegan and Trudy Styler
Co-Producers: Mark Foligno, Alex Francis, Steve Milne and Nicky Moss
Associate Producer: Justin Lanchbury
Line Producer: Julia Valentine
Story: Duncan Jones
Screenplay: Nathan Parker
Music: Clint Mansell
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey (the voice of Gerty)
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Language: English
Genre: Sci Fi, Thriller
Running Time: 97 Minutes

This film is essentially a one-actor film. Aside from a couple of side characters that appear infrequently, and the voice of Kevin Spacey as a robot, for most of the 97 minutes you see and hear Sam Rockwell, and frequently Sam Rockwell acting with Sam Rockwell.

While the film is slow and may not get a great following, although it's sure to develop a cult among science fiction lovers, the acting and cinematography are remarkable.

This is Duncan Jones' directorial debut on a feature film (he comes from a background of commercials shot in the United Kingdom) and he is honest about paying homage to his favorite science fiction films like Blade Runner, 2001 and Alien.

He's also honest about having used just $5 million, saying that he never wanted to be responsible for a big budget like the $50 that was spent on Sunshine.

The film uses a lot of wonderful sets and old fashioned animation with CG cleverly interspersed, and the combination works well showing remarkable space shots of the Sun, the Earth, the Moon's landscape and action on the surface of the Moon.

When the film begins one can almost believe that it's a documentary because of the way the information is presented about Lunar Industries mining the moon for Helium-3, a gas which is used to solve the energy problems on Earth.

Rockwell plays Sam Bell, the sole remaining worker on the mining station Sarang. He's signed a three-year contract that is almost at an end and he spends his free time either whittling wood models, dreaming about his return to Earth and reuniting with his wife and young daughter or taming his temper.

His accommodations aren't the neat, clean, modern space digs shown in some films. Instead, his accommodation are industrial like, worn and somewhat grey and utilitarian. Everything has a place and a use. Nothing is just for show.

Surrounded by the stark and dark landscape of the moon, a landscape which is beautiful, isolated and silent, we see the film mimic some of the 1970 science fiction films like 2001 and Silent Running. A chilling score is provided by Clint Mansell and this certainly adds to the mood of the film.

Gerty, the robot, (voiced by Kevin Spacey) is Sam's sole companion. There are strange and real reminiscences here of HAL in 2001 and throughout the film we expect Gerty to be a villain like robot who turns against Sam.

Sam, venturing out to investigate an accident, finds an identical doppelganger of himself, and we are first introduced to the theory of cloning. Throughout the film however, the question is which Sam is real and which is the clone?

Isolated, obedient and steadfast, Sam has followed the rules mechanically without questioning anything. However, once confronted with his double, a double that has the exact memories that he has, Sam has to confront himself and the realization that all he has created for himself in his life may not even be his own.

Exhibiting physical signs that can only be interpreted as radiation poisoning, Sam now has to face the fact that his contract may not be the only thing about to expire.

The plot is full of unexpected twists and turns with a really surprise ending, showing unexpected originality.

According to Duncan Jones this is just the beginning since he expects his next film to be a Sci Fi homage to Blade Runner.