If it's crap ... We'll tell you
The admittedly long-winded premise of Moon is as follows: in the near future, humankind has developed a method to harness and mass-distribute a clean, renewable energy source called Helium-3 (with our moon being the primary mining site for this isotope), and Earth's largest supplier of Helium-3 energy, Lunar Industries, has constructed a mining station known as Sarang on the far side of the moon to collect and deliver Helium-3 to Earth. Enter our hero, Sam Bell (played by Sam Rockwell), a lonely astronaut who is only two weeks short of completing a three-year contract on the Sarang (during which his only companion has been the Sarang's helpful mainframe, Gerty [voiced by Kevin Spacey]). Unfortunately, Sam's health begins to decline without warning, and to make matters even more bizarre, Sam soon encounters another human on the moon who bears an eerily similar resemblance to him. Now Sam and his look-alike are forced to investigate the nature of and motives for these strange happenings.
Sam Rockwell gives one of the most realistic and human performances this viewer has ever seen. Through his perfectly executed gestures, gazes, musings, and outbursts, Moon's audience gets the treat of witnessing one of the most in-depth instances of character development in cinema history. By the time Moon reaches its conclusion, the audience has a very extensive insight of Sam Bell's noesis, behavior, flaws, and a good understanding of how isolation has morphed the aforementioned characteristics.
The always-great Kevin Spacey also delivers an endearing performance as Gerty. The subtle changes in Spacey's inflection and speech patterns gradually reveal the would-be stoic Gerty to be a more complex, dynamic, and lovable character that serves a greater purpose than just being a plot-device.
Duncan Jones's direction and writing in Moon is also worthy of great praise, especially considering the fact that 1) it's his first full-length feature film, 2) the film had a budget of only $5 million, and 3) he filmed it only in thirty-three days. Despite these limitations, Jones' direction manages to do a fantastic job of building a sense of solitude, intrigue, and pathos throughout the film. I also found it impressive that Jones refrained from letting enticing visuals overshadow the film's tone and plot (a pitfall many directors fall into). The writing (with the original story done by Jones and the screenplay by Nathan Parker) is engaging and experimental, and still manages to remain largely free of the noticeable plot-holes, continuity errors, and/or nonsensical dialogue that many other experimental plot-lines suffer from (e.g., Southland Tales).
The set design in Moon does a brilliant job of creating a believable simulation of cis-lunar space. It's worth noting that most of the filming in Moon was done with minimal CGI and on a large 360-degree set, which, to me, made the environment appear more believable than if it had been done with a greenscreen. It's important to note that the designs for the Sarang, lunar rovers, and other technology featured in Moon are all very realistic and incredibly visually alluring, especially for fans of Futurism. As for the make-up and costume design, all I need to say about them is that are just as detailed and realistic as the background. The cinematography (done by Gary Shaw) is incredible, and the score (done by Clint Mansell) is surprisingly varied, but fairly quiet.
Lunar Industries would like to point out that this review has been approved by Gerty.