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Moon

Year: 2009
Production Co: Liberty Films UK
Director: Duncan Jones
Writer: Nathan Parker/Duncan Jones
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey

The buzz surrounding the debut film from Duncan Jones, son of rock star David Bowie, has been incredible, and deservedly so.

Science fiction is split decisively into two camps among fans. One on hand there's the flashy laser guns and spaceships kind popularized by Star Trek, a style the Star Wars juggernaut established as the de facto template ever since.

Before the US summer of 1977, science fiction was cerebral and political, the realm of literary types like Ray Bradbury and films like Fahrenheit 451.

With much broader audiences, the former school of science fiction enjoyed much bigger budgets, leaving us with a pre Star Wars era of strong ideas constrained by less-than-spectacular effects and a modern age of storytelling bankruptcy, digi-porn effects and nothing to say about society.

Jones started with a strong story, had a great script written by Nathan Parker, and then spent his $5m budget ingeniously, the interiors sparse and compact, the lunar surface and exteriors a blend of miniatures and seamless CGI.

Sam Rockwell is a lonely mining engineer manning a lunar base that's home to a fleet of remote controlled vehicles that extract Helium-3 from the lunar soil, a resource that's solved the world's energy crisis.

With only two weeks to go on his contract, Sam counts the days between messages from his pretty wife at home and enjoys an amiable but not entirely trustworthy relationship with GERTY, his artificial intelligence robot helper voiced by Kevin Spacey.

An industrial accident leaves Sam unconscious, and when he finds himself back in the base infirmary and a cleaner-cut version of himself watching over him, Sam's convinced he's finally cracked. But the new Sam is real, and to give away any more would be a very unfair spoiler. Suffice it to say Moon takes cues from some of the most modern science and the fears surrounding it, and combines it with the classic themes of political and corporate paranoia of yesteryear.

And Jones wraps it all up in a fantastic looking package that looks like it cost much more than it did. Like District 9, Moon is the near-perfect fusion of the idea and the execution.

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