This week's movie was a loan from my sister ... Moon. It's a 2009 science fiction film (rated R) made in the UK and starring Sam Rockwell (Galaxy Quest) and directed by Duncan Jones (son of David Bowie).
It tells the story of a future where Earth's energy problems have been solved by the mining on the moon of Helium-3, and of Sam, an employee of Lunar Industries, who has almost reached the end of his three year stint on a lunar mining facility - he misses his wife and baby girl, his only companion is a computer (with the voice of Kevin Spacey), and he's named his four long-range Helium-3 harvesting machines Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John :). I thought it was pretty good if kind of dark, and it reminded me of a cross between Silent Running and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Roger Ebert gave it three and a half stars. Here's the second half of his review ....
[...] I want to take a step back and discuss some underlying matters in the film. In an age when our space and distance boundaries are being pushed way beyond the human comfort zone, how do we deal with the challenges of space in real time? In lower gravity, how do our bodies deal with loss of bone and muscle mass? How do our minds deal with long periods of isolation?
The "2001" vessel dealt with the physical challenges with its centrifuge. Dave and Frank had each other -- and HAL. Sam is all on his own, except for Gerty, whose voice by Kevin Spacey suggests he was programmed by the same voice synthesizers used for HAL. Gerty seems harmless and friendly, but you never know with these digital devils. All Sam knows is that he's past his shelf date, and ready to be recycled back to Earth.
Space is a cold and lonely place, pitiless and indifferent, as Bruce Dern's character grimly realized in Douglas Trumbull's classic "Silent Running." At least he had the consolation that he was living with Earth's last vegetation. Sam has no consolations at all. It even appears that a new guy may have entered the orbits of his wife and daughter. What kind of a man would volunteer for this duty? What kind of a corporation would ask him to? We, and he, find out.
"Moon" is a superior example of that threatened genre, hard science-fiction, which is often about the interface between humans and alien intelligence of one kind of or other, including digital. John W. Campbell Jr., the godfather of this genre, would have approved. The movie is really all about ideas. It only seems to be about emotions. How real are our emotions, anyway? How real are we? Someday I will die. This laptop I'm using is patient and can wait.