As film fans, there’s always a handful of films that we allow to pass us by. This isn’t usually a comment on their quality or our willingness to enjoy them – sometimes, we’re just a little late to the party.

Moon is one of those films that’s often recommended, but rarely talked about. It’s a thought-provoking sci-fi with something of a mystery at its core, and its success was hinged entirely upon Sam Rockwell’s acting ability. Luckily, he was able to deliver, and the film achieved critical success.

Made on a meager budget of $5 million, Moon looks remarkably good. Considering it’s now over a decade old and was made on a tight budget, its effects hold up well and add to Moon‘s sci-fi credibility.

Citing classic sci-fi films like Silent Running and Alien as an inspiration, director Duncan Jones creates a believable piece of science fiction with an interesting idea at its core. The film’s story concerns Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), the lone operator of a lunar base set up to harvest helium-3 as he nears the end of the three year contract.

Waking from an accident that occurred while he was out in a lunar rover, Sam sets out to investigate, and discovers a version of himself unconscious in the crashed vehicle. Realizing they are clones, Sam and Sam struggle to co-exist in the small lunar facility, unraveling the meaning of their own existence in the process.

While it sounds mind-bending on paper, Moon‘s story is actually presented in such a straightforward manner that it’s easy to digest. Its sci-fi story isn’t ever too heavy, nor does it lean too heavily on the lunar gimmick. Instead, it’s a touching and emotionally disturbing human story brought to life by an excellent dual performance from Sam Rockwell.

Through Jones’ use of models as opposed to digital animation or CGI, Moon manages to create a generally realistic image of what life on the Moon could be like. Its desolate landscapes reflect Sam’s loneliness, with the Earth looming overhead somewhat representative of his distant hope.

Put simply, Moon works. Its story is engaging and emotional, but there’s also a liberal dose of suspense, making for an overall exciting experience. Rockwell’s performance is excellent, and the film’s visuals secure an added sense of authenticity. At times, Moon‘s pace is a little slow, but this only serves to build upon its themes and general tone.

Moon is somehow a combination of something sleek and modern with something decidedly retro. It’s science fiction done as science fiction should be: an exploration of deeper themes about humanity and technology, without the need for liberal doses of unnecessary action.

Rating: 85%

Summary: Moon is the epitome of science fiction, purely and thoroughly. Its visuals and deeper themes work together brilliantly to achieve something deeply enjoyable and thought-provoking.

Highlight: Sam Rockwell’s dual performance evidences how absolute his acting talent is, building significant tension while doing the movie equivalent of staring in the mirror.