Monday, June 6, 2016


"Let's play Twister, let's play Risk
I'll see you in heaven if you make the list
(yeah yeah yeah yeah)"

R.E.M. - Man on the Moon

Having already been to the mun I naturally consider myself an expert on the subject, so it is without reservations that I can recommend this finest treatise on munology which I've encountered in recent leisurely Saturday movie renting. A-yawp, raising the bar, that's me.

Of course, Moon isn't really about the moon. Like much good SciFi, it harnesses its otherwordly situation to prompt thought on the choices made by intelligent beings. In other words social commentary. To their credit though, the creators didn't merely phone in the speculative premise by sticking to cardboard sets and a robot played by some intern with deely-boppers. They dedicated the necessary funding to special effects trips around the barren lunar landscape and chiseled out a plausible-looking lunar habitat complete with a robot which, much like those in Interstellar, actually looks robotic. And hey, it worked. The hard SF crowd ate it up, for instance prompting a mention of Moon's premise of helium-3 mining in Freefall.

The main thrust of the story is the opportunity for unethical profiteering created by every new frontier, the murderous fringes by which every human hierarchy feeds and placates the peaceful, passive population at the core of the empire. Which does not make it a cowboy movie. Aside from a smashed diorama, the characters mostly act out their drama of personal identity and rage against the system like civilized, capable professionals and not rabid bull-necked jock action heroes. Many of the deeper questions are not stated outright but merely brush up against the viewer's awareness to spark what I'm guessing have been millions of marijuana-laced philosophical discussions long after the movie's viewing. The ever-popular "if someone made an identical copy of your brain" makes its usual appearance (along with the usual hand-waving at the mind-boggling technological difficulty of such a task) but my own favorites surround GERTY.

Is GERTY sentient or a Chinese box? If sentient, do we bemoan its lack of personal agency in the story? Is its intellect greater and more valuable than that of its charges? Or do we applaud its personal agency in furthering a cause greater than itself, in making a rational choice in which self-interest and ethics have both been weighed?

Damnit, I want a GERTY spin-off.

No comments:

Post a Comment