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Given a limited release under the auspices of the Sony Pictures Classics label, MOON ($38) can be thought of as an art house science fiction movie. Of course, I mean that as a big time complement. In this age of science fiction movies that are more about action sequences, hardware and CGI effects, one finds a genuine sense of delight when they realize that smaller, introspective films, which engage the intellect of sci-fi fans are still being produced. Co-written and directed by Duncan Jones, MOON is an excellent example of what can be accomplished on a small budget. MOON is old school science fiction at its very best- it is a film about ideas, instead of special effects. Taking place at some unspecified point in the future, MOON tells the story of Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), the solitary employee working at a lunar station, where helium-3 is extracted from the lunar soil and shipped back to Earth as a clean energy source that powers the vast majority of the planet. Contracted for a period of three years to oversee the nearly automated station, Sam is two weeks away from returning to Earth, and to the wife and child he left behind.

Due to a long standing communications array malfunction, Samís only real companionship over his lonely three-year tour of duty has been GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey), the artificially intelligent computer system that runs the lunar stationís harvesting systems. While performing some maintenance outside the station, Sam has a hallucination, which leads to accident that nearly kills him. Awakening in the stationís infirmary, GERTY informs that he was injured in a crash, and will require some time to recuperate. While recovering, Sam becomes suspicious of what is happening around him, especially when he thinks he overhears a live communication between GERTY and Lunar Industries headquarters, despite the continuing malfunction. Samís suspicions are intensified, when GERTY refuses to let him venture outside of the station to perform routine maintenance. After a bit of sabotage, Sam forces GERTY to allow him outside to fix the problem. However, once outside, Sam returns to the scene of the crash and makes a startling discovery that causes him to question his mission, as well as the nature of existence. Although there are a few other faces that pop up on the screen, MOON is a largely a one-man film, that actor Sam Rockwell carriers off beautifully. Rockwellís wonderful performance truly deserves formal recognition, something that it will hopefully receive at Oscar time.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has made MOON available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. Despite the small budget, the 1080p presentation is generally excellent, and makes the most of industrial production design and austere cinematography. Image clarity, sharpness, depth and detail are all rather strong, although some softness creeps into the image here and there. Fine details and texturing generally appear to be very good in close ups, but longer shots become harder to gage, as the production design consists of clean lines and a lack of surface detail. Hues are subdued as a result of homogenous and bland color scheme chosen for the filmís environments. Flesh tones look correct correlation to the lighting and sets. Blacks are inky, while the whites are clean and crisp. Contrast can seem a little harsh, but works within the films setting. Shadow detail is pretty terrific when it needs to be. The elements from which MOON has been mastered are virtually perfect. Grain is noticeable, and adds a nice organic, quality to the presentation.

MOON is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. While much of MOON is talky in nature, with a sound design that tends to be localized front and center, the outlying channels do augment the sterile environment with natural ambience and incidental sounds coming from the equipment on the lunar station. Additionally, the film does have some moments where the track perks up, and offers a more enveloping experience, but no one will ever confuse MOON with an action movie. Fidelity is strong, especially where Clint Mansell musical score is concerned. The bass channel adds the required weight and impact to key sequences. Dialogue is crisp and always easy to understand. French and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks are also encoded onto the disc, as is a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel track. Subtitles are available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some supplements. Starting things off are two running Audio Commentaries included on the Blu-ray Disc; the first is with co-writer/director Duncan Jones, director of photography Gary Shaw, concept designer Gavin Rothery, and production designer Tony Noble, while the second features Duncan Jones and producer Stuart Fenegan. Featurettes and other programs include the following: The Making Of Moon (sixteen minutes), Creating The Visual Effects (eleven minutes), Science Center Q&A With Director Duncan Jones (twenty one minutes) and Filmmaker's Q&A At The Sundance Film Festival (eleven minutes). A Theatrical Trailer and Bonus Trailers close out the standard supplements. MOON is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

As I stated above, MOON is old school science fiction at its very best- it is a film about ideas, instead of special effects. The Blu-ray presentation is first rate. Very highly recommended.



Moon [Blu-ray] (2008)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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