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Pop & Hiss at the movies: Duncan Jones' 'Moon'

June 12, 2009 |  5:56 pm


In Duncan Jones’ clever and lean feature film debut, “Moon,” our lunar neighbor is hardly more exciting than the desert between Bakersfield and Las Vegas. Covered in glittery dust, the moon is merely the latest wasteland to be co-opted by corporate power.

Lunar Industries has contracted astronaut Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) to mine for helium 3, Earth’s new energy source. In the final days of his three-year mission — when he’s tired of freeze-dried food and haircuts from a vacuum attachment wielded by his only companion, a Kevin Spacey-voiced robot named Gerty — Sam crashes his lunar rover and meets another version of himself.

Sounds appropriately trippy for a director whose dad is none other than OG space oddity David Bowie, right? And it is as lonely as any Maj. Tom scenario, but Jones, who made his name with flashy ads in Europe and working for Tony Scott, is more modestly stylish than Papa Ziggy. With a budget of $5 million, Jones created the moon base partially with model miniatures to make the “Star Wars” generation weep with nostalgia. It’s not the Pop art fantasy conjured in“2001: A Space Odyssey” or J.J. Abrams’ tech-savvy “Star Trek” — “Moon” is joyfully clunky ’80s.

Rockwell skillfully plies his multiple roles in “Moon,” but one wishes Jones and screenwriter Nathan Parker had sketched in a few more details about the past. But that’s a minor quibble. “Moon” proves that you don’t need gazillion-dollar CG effects to “freak out in a moonage daydream, oh yeah!”

--Margaret Wappler

Photo: Mark Tille/Sony Pictures Classics