Moon is a near future science fiction drama that evokes a strong sense of isolation, loneliness, fear and transition. Oscar award winner Sam Rockwell is Sam Bell, an astronaut hired by a distant corporate enterprise to be the sole engineer stationed at their lunar base. Nearing the end of his 3 year contract Sam reflects on the memory of his life on earth and how his time in space has affected him and those he cares about. A pervasive and haunting score compliment the stellar performance given by Rockwell, whose range of character and lucidity make for a wonderful performance.
Perplexing and dynamic, Moon presents a unique method of pitting the multiple characters Rockwell can play against and off of each other. Our sole character (with the exception of Kevin Spacey as GERTY, a modern contrast to 2001 Space Oddessy’s Hal 9000) feels like someone with a soul rather than an emulation of emotion, and thankfully such is the case. This film is slow moving and character driven, and if that pacing still keeps you engaged then the payoff is satisfying. With a run time of only 97 minutes it’s just the length where you feel comfortable starting it lying in bed without fear that you won’t finish. What this movie is not is ecstatic. It is not explosive nor particularly frightening. The overarching uncertainty of the film might tread the borders of psychological thriller but, overall the tone stays true to a character driven science fiction story. And that is what this movie is really about. Uncertainty. We the viewer through the eyes of Sam Bell uncover more about the lunar station, the status of Sam’s forlorn home and as truths are revealed the less certain you become. This isn’t to say that the plot is needlessly confusing (Insert: The Cloverfield Paradox). The film’s pacing is below average in rate but every scene has a purpose and intent of moving the plot forward towards a more important mystery than the last. It’s difficult to write about some of the more dramatic emotions this movie exerts without spoiling the reveals that cause them. That being said the films score (Clint Mansell: Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan) evicts a level of tension and loneliness without being overbearing or distracting (Insert Dunkirk). Every film has its problems and this one is no different. I found the ending to be a somewhat haphazard attempt at a resolution for an otherwise bleak and uncertain future. Regardless of this minor misstep which might just be a personal difference in taste Moon stands tall in the sci-fi genre for its originality alone.
Death Note is a grim yet almost slapstick final destination type murder porn with a unique twist. Light Turner a vindictive yet seemingly well intentioned high school student comes across the death note, a black notepad that possesses the ability to kill anyone whose name is written in it. Tonally jarring, wicked visual effects, and hit or miss dialogue somehow left me oddly charmed by the live action adaption of the original anime
It’s not difficult to assume my viewing of Death Note the anime affected my reception of Death Note the Netflix movie. However, whether or not my bias skewed my thoughts of movie negatively or positively is still up to debate. Perhaps by the end of writing this review I will have figured that out. Regardless, the film from a technical standpoint is well produced. The actors for the most part do the best they can with the dialogue which ranges from authentic feeling to downright unrealistic. Willem Dafoe’s ominous presence felt underutilized as simply a mouth for exposition. The movie has a pretty obvious thematic backdrop of contrasting black & white that runs with the plot itself, that being the moral grey area of killing criminals outside the law. Camera angles are shot at intentionally contradictory angles and even the character outfits seem to be at odds with each other. I mentioned final destination in my thesis because the film elicits very much the same murder porn type visceral death sequences throughout the movie, however I was pleasantly surprised at the tonal shift the film takes roughly 1/3 of the way through. Vindication against a murdered parent and bullies of the world transcends to an all-out god complex that while isn’t entirely original, felt true to the source material, and the better direction for the movie to take. Conflict arises organically and doesn’t feel crammed into the overarching plot. The climax of the film and ambiguous ending for some may feel unsatisfying but to me was a deserved finish. Paced like a greyhound given Xanax plot set pieces change in seriousness dramatically quick to the point of being jarring. In one sequence the importance of our characters situation moves from disastrous to nonchalant and back to disastrous in minutes. Regardless of the films credited successes I found myself drawn out of it, checking my watch expecting a conclusion that was still 45 minutes away. Although lacking any forthright emotion and struggling to find a coherent pace I found myself consistently entertained and weirdly charmed, laughing somewhat maniacally at the absurdity of it. I don’t know what that says about me or this film but I appreciated the ride despite its glaring flaws.