Duncan Jones’ Moon Review: An Insightful Science-Fiction Endeavor


The science-fiction genre has always offered viewers a more insightful cinematic experience than most other genres due to it’s exploration of the human psyche, the foundations of humanity, or even the concept of identity, usually relating to the definition of what it is to be human. Duncan Jones’ Moon, despite some minor delivery faults, successfully lives up to the expectations of the science-fiction genre by manipulating the genre’s conventions and adding a deep and reflective atmosphere that juxtaposes the protagonist’s subjective psychological turmoil, which brings the audience into an arbitrary yet believable reality. In addition to the complexities of character the film also uses a simplistic set design that seems undeniably real and authentic but it’s the nuanced and well versed performance from Sam Rockwell that holds the contemplation piece that is Moon together, showing true talent and diversity from one of the most underrated actors of our time.

Moon is mostly about the exploration of self found in the protagonist Sam Bell, played exceptionally well by Sam Rockwell, who is an energy harvester working alone on the moon to provide Earth with a newly found resource that has solved all of our energy problems. Sam is in pure isolation and after more than two years being alone on the moon he has the regular occurrences of talking to himself and seeing people which is probably aided by the fact that he has no direct communication with Earth except through recorded messages, mostly from his wife Tess, played simply yet effectively by Dominique McElligott. The only actual friend Sam has on the moon is his robotic computer counterpart GERTY, voiced methodically by Kevin Spacey in a very 2001-esque homage, which is the source of logic on the station but frequently uses emoticons to express a certain type of emotion. Sam constantly reassures himself to keep going since his three year contract is almost complete and will be returning home in two weeks, until he is involved in an accident only to wake up uninjured in the station’s infirmary not remembering a thing that happened. Things take a twisting turn when Sam revisits the accident site only to find an injured version of him still alive resulting in a barrage of questions relating to identity and purpose that really bring out Moon’s stronger more thought provoking moments.


Duncan Jones skillfully allows his film to meander around the isolated psyche of his protagonist, which shows a great deal of thought this new director has put into his theatrical debut. The set design along with his careful selection of shots, including some great image trickery involving Sam Rockwell in duel performances on the screen, has a degree of credibility to the film as a whole, which make up for the films more lingering aspects. Where the film is successful is within its meditative story and how it is accentuated through the lively performance of Rockwell, the monotonous voice of Kevin Spacey, the understated set, and the methodical shots. This sort of artistic filmmaking is not really for everyone, especially with it’s slow pace, but what is intended is a thought provoking piece of science-fiction cinema, which mostly succeeds regardless of some minor illogical plot points, which aren’t dwelled upon and allow for a smooth, even a bit languid, 97 minute theater experience.

There are some minor problems with the delivery of the film, which mostly has to do with a climax that sort of arrives randomly rather than allowing it to build throughout the film. Some of the conventions used to reflect the science-fiction genre are a bit overplayed and can sort of tell which stereotypical twist is coming leaving a very unsurprising atmosphere. However, the film is beyond surprise or even thriller, for it’s aware of its own delivery, focusing on the character rather than the genre. Some films are brought down by one man performances but this film is effective with its inventive characters that are delicately expressed in diverse roles by Sam Rockwell. After his performance in Snow Angels and now Moon, Rockwell will most likely be getting some bigger if not a wider selection of material to work with.


All in all Duncan Jones is on the right path with his theatrical debut Moon, showing audiences he has a feel for specific genres and is attempting to make them his own manipulating certain conventions that define the genre. Where there are weaknesses in development or minor absurd plot points Jones makes it up with ingenuity and a well balanced product that has good acting and an insightful intention. It is definitely a step in the right direction for science-fiction films returning to their profound roots and attempt to deliver a relevant message along with the fascinating imagery. If for nothing else I would recommend this film for fans or admirers of Sam Rockwell, for his performance is tightly delivered and well worth watching. Not a great science-fiction film but definitely a good one that shows the promise of an actor on his way to the top and a director that will hopefully deliver another film that has the same amount of care and thought put into it.

Grade: B

One Response to “Duncan Jones’ Moon Review: An Insightful Science-Fiction Endeavor”
  1. Juan Carlos says:

    After waiting such a long time to watch it I finally saw it. I have say that I wasn’t disappointed, really it is one of the best films I have seen this year.

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