Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Program Length: 97 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 1080p
Languages: English, French, Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA; Spanish 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Moon is an unusually original and intelligent science fiction film; one which is in many respects is reminiscent of some of the best episodes of the original Twilight Zone television series. The film is set at an indeterminate point in the future, at a time when the world is no longer dependent upon fossil fuels for energy. Science has developed a method of collecting energy from the sun on the surface of the moon, where it is harvested and converted into a substance called Helium 3. A corporation called Lunar Industries has established a harvesting station on the moon, a station which is manned by one human and a robot known as Gerty (voice by Kevin Spacey) who attends to the human’s needs. The human is a Lunar Industries employee named Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), who is nearing the end of a three-year contract, during which time his only contact with other humans has been through satellite transmissions. Sam is married to a beautiful wife and has a young daughter he has not seen in person since his contract began.
As Sam counts down the days until his return to Earth, Gerty notices that three years of isolation seems to be taking a psychological toll on him. While filling a cup with hot water, Sam becomes distracted by the vision of a gorgeous woman sitting in his chair and he burns himself. Then, while driving a lunar vehicle to check on one of the mechanized harvesters, Sam imagines that he sees someone standing in his path and he crashes into the harvester. Sam is not seriously injured, but the accident has consequences which he could not possibly have anticipated. He gradually comes to learn that much of his life has not at all been as it seemed.
Sam Rockwell is positively brilliant in what is almost a solo performance. Kevin Spacey’s reassuring and placid voice is perfect for Gerty, the empathetic robot whose mood is expressed by a smiley face which changes in accordance with his emotions. There are many surprises along the way as the true nature of the manned moon station gradually unfolds. Moon also benefits from extremely realistic sets and seamless special effects. Briskly directed by Duncan Jones, Moon has nary a single dull moment. Fans of thoughtful science fiction are sure to enjoy it immensely.
The one perplexing thing about Moon is its R rating. The explanation is that it is rated R for language, but at most there is some mild profanity, nothing that any high school student has not heard before. The film rating system continues to be puzzling and wildly inconsistent.
Moon is properly framed at 2.40:1, and the 1080p Blu-ray transfer is superb. The picture is very sharp and colors and flesh tones are spot-on. The lunar landscape is generally dark, but shadow detail is excellent. Blacks are deep and inky. As noted, the special effects are seamlessly integrated and the distant shots of the moon and stars are very realistic. We have come to expect first-class Blu-ray transfers from Sony, and Moon is no exception.
The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is excellent. This is not a science fiction film with explosions or outer space warfare, so the surround effects are on the subtle side but very evocative and effective. The dialogue is mostly confined to the center channel and it is delivered without distortion and ever word of dialogue is clear and understandable. The film also has a very effective music soundtrack which is nicely reproduced.
All of the supplements are presented in standard definition and English stereo.
The extras include two commentaries. One, by writer/director Duncan Jones and producer Stuart Fenegan focuses largely on the film’s content. The alternate commentary features the director again, along with director of photography Gary Shaw, concept designer Gavin Rothery, and production designer Tony Noble. The alternate commentary places more emphasis on the technical aspects of the film.
The featurette “The Making of Moon” pretty much speaks for itself. Another featurette goes into some detail about how the visual effects were created.
Also included are a Science Center Q&A session and another Q&A session which was conducted at the Sundance Film Festival.
BD-Live features will be activated on the release date.
The BD disc comes in a standard Blu-ray keep case inside a cardboard slipcase.
The Final Analysis
Moon is one of the more original and thoughtful science fiction films to appear in recent years. As noted, it made me think of some of the more impressive episodes from the original Twilight Zone series. Moon boasts high production values and a remarkable performance by Sam Rockwell, and it is highly recommended for fans of the genre.
Equipment used for this review:
Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray player
Panasonic Viera TC-P46G15 Plasma display, calibrated to THX specification by Gregg Loewen
Yamaha HTR-5890 THX Surround Receiver
BIC Acoustech speakers
Interconnects: Monster Cable