Spoiler Alert!

Photo by Edwin Aldrin, Apollo 11, July 16-24, 1969
Hasselblad 70mm transparency

Ariana and I went with high hopes to see Moon the other night. Our hopes were dashed.

Here's what I hoped would not be part of a movie about the moon that had been billed as quiet, contemplative, and spiritual:

1. a talking computer with questionable motives— Talking computers may be the future, but after HAL, there's really no way to cast a computer without it being an obvious play on HAL, and that means that everyone will assume the computer is evil, heartless (if you have a hard time with the word evil), or susceptible to devastatingly literal programming by emotionally stunted programmers. Unless of course some clever auteur were to subvert our expectation of a HAL-like computer and give it a heart, hmmmm. . . didn't see that one coming.

Happy and sad face computer displays as an empathy device don't go over so well either; especially in a mostly monochrome movie of moon dust and plastic surroundings.

2. another clone movie that explores what it means to be human— Let me just say that there is not one moment in this film that comes close to the emotional resonance of Rutgur Hauer's justification for his right to life in the final scene of Blade Runner. Which isn't to say that Sam Rockwell does a bad job, because he doesn't. But he has a hard time really getting to a the low we would expect of a man left alone to die— a man whose whole world view has been shattered— because there's another, more vivacious him, to play off of. This ends up making it more of a surreal buddy movie rather than a reflection of selfhood.

Or, as my wife put it: it's hard not to just get Weird Al's "I Think I'm a Clone Now" on a loop in your head for the last hour of the movie.

3. lots of talking and even a few jokes— Clearly somebody didn't read their Making of an Epic Space Tale 101 Handbook. If the objective is to make a profound film set in space make sure everyone says very little.

Sure, Moon has the weird unexplainable visions part nailed. And it was adapted from a short story into a long feature length film, so those are some instant credibility points. But ultimately, the movie is awfully heavy on dialogue and woefully light on sweeping desolate vistas to truly enter the ranks of the memorable space epic.

So let me offer a suggestion for round two, because the sequel to this film could be awesome. In the final shot of Moon there is a bit of voice over that alludes to the reaction on Earth after Mr. Rockwell returns to tell his tale of clone woe. If you want to make a truly good science fiction movie, how about a genre-bending court room drama about a clone who falls to earth and explodes an international debate about what makes a human being human, coupled with an exploration about how immigration policy must be reconsidered in light of the cloning capacity of nefarious mining corporations.

I'll write it for any studio in Hollywood for, say, half a million dollars.

Call me.

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