I am not a fan of the “hard sci-fi” film genre. I can take science fiction when it is about as weighty as
Firefly or Cowboy Bebop, which is to say, not very. I maintain that Star Trek: The Next Generation is the only Trek worth watching.
So, you see, I have issues with sci-fi. It all tends to put me to sleep. I have never made it through 2001; A Space Odyssey (that’s the one with the monolith, and the really, really long shot of the monolith, that goes on, and on . . . and on, right? Yeah, that’s the movie that made me realize Stanley Kubrick had contempt for his audiences). I cannot watch any of the Blade Runner versions because it is just so dark, it leaves me feeling like I must peer into shadows to watch it.
Marvin the Martian is much more my speed, and I seem to channel him when I try to watch hard sci-fi. If I’m not falling asleep, I am annoying my husband by saying, “this is a bomb, so where’s the ka-boom? There is supposed to be an earth-shattering ka-boom!”
But, here is a film that seems to promise or threaten (or need) no giant ka-boom: Joseph Susanka is waxing so enthusiastically about Duncan Jones’ Moon that I may need to put this on my netflix thingy:
Clearly influenced by its more famous predecessors, Moon is no exception to that trend: a psychologically complex film that leans heavily on the ideas, themes, and artistry of such greats as Kubrick and Tarkovsky, it delves into the question of how we humans come to understand ourselves, and those with whom we interact, whether human, robotic, or “other.”
That’s a question I am always interested in; so far, so good:
The perceptiveness and emotional core of Jones’ film is built on his examination of the question and problem of cloning, though his use of that particular sci-fi trope takes a very different tack than one might expect. While studiously avoiding the question of its morality altogether, his focus on the clones’ parallel existences offers his audiences an easy way to compare disparate versions of Sam Bell simultaneously.
This, in turn, allows Jones to focus on the importance of self-understanding. The older Sam Bell’s interactions with his clone—interactions with himself, through the wonders of science fiction—are both enlightening and instructive. Recognizing the anger and pent-up frustration personified in his younger self as his own frustration and anger, he also recognizes it as the very flaw which led to the destruction of Original Sam’s marriage so many years before: “I see it now; I see what Tess was talking about,” he says sorrowfully, recounting the way in which his hair-trigger temper and unchecked sullenness pushed away the loving wife they both remember so clearly.
Okay. This sounds pretty good. Sci-fi fans especially will want to read on!