Moon Blu-ray Review

Moon marks the debut of Duncan Jones as a feature film director. The film was first screened at the Sundance Film Festival and consequently receiving limited showings in New York and Los Angeles. This sci-fi film has been raved by many reviewers and is already being placed as one of the best of the genre to be released in the recent years. So let’s take a look at what comes in this Blu-ray.

Another year comes as the last one leaves and we can’t help but to look back at 2009 at all the films released scratching our heads. After shuffling through the titles trying to find a truly genuine film it appears that filmmaking has now forgotten about the roots of the sci-fi genre relying on everything but quality content. Obviously, that’s a broad statement; there are exceptions to every rule. There have been plenty of films in the past year that are great to good, there’s no doubt about that. However, we can argue that many have really just relied on heavy special effects, lasers, explosions, etc. many have left aside good content.

Duncan Jones appears to be one of those directors that possibly no longer exist. Why do I say that? Easy, a look into Moon and the viewer will instantly realize the work of art they are witnessing in front of their eyes. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the big explosions, aliens, lasers, light speed traveling, car to robot transformation, etc. just like the next guy it’s part of today’s entertainment, but I can also appreciate when one’s work doesn’t rely on any of that to present a true quality film. Moon explores the human mind, the struggles found when isolation strikes, and it simply delivers that thought of what means to be human.

Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is stationed on a facility in the dark side of the moon. Sam is working for Lunar Enterprises, who is in charge of harvesting “Helium 3” from the surface of the moon; they are in charge of providing about 70% of the Earth’s energy. Sam is stationed on the moon on a three year contract, which only has two (2) more weeks to go, and is in charge of making sure the automatic harvesters are functional. When communications start to malfunction and GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey) cannot explain why, Sam begins to hallucinate, starts seeing people and things that should not be there. On a routine night Sam is traveling on a rover when he accidentally collides with a harvester. When he wakes up in the facility’s infirmary, Sam is informed by GERTY about his crash and he has suffered delicate injuries. Sam begins to put things together about his alluding visions and begins to discover Lunar Industry’s secrets that will directly impact and alter his very existence.

The minimalist filmmaking used in the film is excellent. No need for big sets or no need for huge cities for this film to excel. The film relies on a strong story, acting, and very good script to succeed. Moon doesn’t have over the top special effects instead it uses minimal visual effects and relies heavily on what the actor(s) does for the film. I’ve said it before that in today’s world this type of filmmaking is either forgotten or just simply set aside. Jones does an excellent job at making the film simple yet complex; there are more questions than answers as the story moves along. The score sets a dark mood perfect fit for the film’s themes of isolation, abandonment, and confusion.

Finally, Moon delivers a strong performance to complete this already classic science fiction film. Sam Rockwell is superb, I simply can’t stress that enough, and his depiction as an isolated man is right down perfect. His effort is brilliant especially when he discovers that which is being kept secret and has changed the world he sees around him. There are just simply no complaints on the main lead actor. Kevin Spacey voices GERTY and does an excellent job at keeping the emotionless robotic companion as freaky as possible. Overall Moon has a great production value, it’s not over the top, it contains a great story, the script is solid, and the acting is superb. Easily one of my favorite sci-fi films of 2010 and the year just started!

Moon arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG4-AVC encode framed at 2.40:1 transfer. The film isn’t visually the best out there, but it’s a great bland movie. There aren’t many sharp edges, meaning some of the stuff around the set appears soft, it’s ok though it feels fitting for what the director is intending. There are some very stunning visuals; just looking at the moon’s terrain you can see every crater and intricate surface, every hair on Sam’s face, the rover’s tear due to the harvesting, and much more. In other words most of the details are rendered exceptionally. The black levels are rich with a nice dimension. Main colors are clear and vivid when they appear on screen. To this section out there’s some film grain that provides that film like look.

Moon arrives on Blu-ray with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless track. It may not have the big bangs that other recent sci-fi releases have, but Moon’s sound is exceptionally precise. Bass is purposely used only when needed; it’s not being used simply to use it. The rears are used for small ambiance sounds and the music score to give a depth and sensation of being in outer space. The dialog is clean and clear. The music score is one of the best things on this track setting the film’s haunting tone. Moon’s lossless track is not the most explosive, but it certainly is one fitting for this excellent film. There are simply no complaints here.

Moon features a set of good enjoyable supplements. While they are not all in high definition one can still enjoy what this release has to offer. Among my favorites is on of the audio commentaries, but before I go into details let’s check out what’s inside.

Audio Commentary – Features Writer/Director Duncan Jones, Director of Photography Gary Shaw, Concept Designer Gavin Rothery, and Production Designer Toney Noble. This track is interesting, the quartet provide some interesting comments, there’s some discussion about the story, making of film, some anecdotes, etc. This track is worth a listen.

Audio Commentary – Features Writer/Director Duncan Jones and Producer Stuart Fenegan and they touch subjects like GERTY, the set location, design, the film’s shooting, and much more. It is a more informative piece than the previous audio commentary.

Whistle: A short film directed by Duncan Jones – It’s always nice to see the roots of an actor and this short film is the representation of that. This short film is rather enjoyable so I suggest you take a look.

Creating the Visual Effects – This is an in-depth look at the film’s special effects. (Spoilers included!)

The Making of ‘Moon’ – This features a cast and crew discussion about the plot, the challenges by the main actor, the set design, among other things.

Filmmaker’s Q&A at the Sundance Film Festival –
features the Duncan Jones, Sam Rockwell, Stuart Fenegan, and Trudie Styler answering questions from the public following a screening.

Science Center Q&A With Director Duncan Jones – features Duncan Jones answering questions following the screening of the film at the Houston Space Center.

BD-Live – Access more movie trailers online.

Theatrical Trailer – The title says it all, ‘Moon’ theatrical trailer in HD for your viewing pleasure.

Trailers – Featuring: District 9, The Boondock Saints II: All Saint’s Day, Michael Jackson’s: This Is It, Black Dynamite, Zombieland, It Might Get Loud, The Damned United, Coco Before Chanel, Snatch, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Blood: The Last Vampire.

Moon is simply thought provoking and challenges its audience. Makes you think what isolation and abandonment can do to a person far away from home. Sam Rockwell is nothing short of brilliant, and the story is excellent. Sci-fi fans should easily find a spot for this film in their collections. Moon brings back the style of filmmaking that has been pushed aside in recent years. The Blu-ray arrives with an excellent audio and video presentation and the final verdict is, highly recommended.