Saturday, 25 July 2009

Film Ramble: Moon

Moon is a very good, in places great, movie. Duncan Jones directs with that clinical, distanced style that benefited so many great seventies movies, Sam Rockwell gives a fine performance, indeed numerous fine performances, the special effects are impressive for a low budget movie and it's hard to fault anything with a score by the mighty Clint Mansell.

But as science-fiction, it's rubbish.

I mention this because a lot of people seem to be hailing it as a sci-fi masterpiece, and that kind of worries me. I mention it also because this is a subject that - as discussed a few posts ago - has been on my mind a lot lately. I get that Moon is a homage to classics like Silent Running, and I love them too, but the one thing you absolutely don't want to reference in a film that's supposed to be set in the future is the technology. We're told in the opening scene that mankind has limitless energy at its disposal. That would suggest at least a slight step up the technology curve. So why do the computer systems look like they're running on a Commodore 64? Why haven't robotics advanced one iota? Are we meant to believe that people are still watching old TV shows and listening to talk radio? Why does it still take three days to travel between Earth and the Moon?

I'm not suggesting that every science fiction film needs to stand up to rigorous scrutiny. I realise there was budgetary restraints, and - just to reiterate - I liked Moon a fair bit. Still, I do think it's lousy science-fiction. It progresses a couple of aspects of our current situation and assumes that everything else will stay the same or, bizarrely, retrograde. It doesn't think through its own logic. On a side note, the IMDB entry has an amusing anecdote about Jones showing the movie to some guys from NASA, who spotted a rather more techie hole in his thinking.

Oh well. I hope this won't put anyone off seeing Moon, because it's a neat film, and an absolute coup for the British film industry. Here's hoping its the beginning of brighter times.

Just don't call it sci-fi!

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