RICHLAND, Wash. — The first film in the Battelle Film Club's Fall Series is Moon. It is a terrific science-fiction piece from 2009 that ended up as one of my top-five movies that year. It's a great start for what promises to be an excellent series.
In the future, Earth's energy crisis is solved by the discovery of an unidentified metal found on the dark side of the moon. It is so pure that only one mining station is needed to get the ore to Earth, and just one person and a computer run the place.
The man is Sam Bell. He's signed up for a three-year stint that is a couple of weeks from ending. His companion is GERTY, an omnipresent computer programmed to anticipate and meet his every need. Sam has cabin fever big-time and is struggling with his sanity.
An early twist in Moon means I can't tell you much about the story. Though it's a dark drama, most of the fun is found in the plot pivot.
Duncan Jones is an outstanding writer/director. The son of rock singer David Bowie, Jones also did last year's Source Code, which also made my best-of-the-year list. Jones and first-time screenwriter Nathan Parker pack Moon with excellent -- but not really real-looking -- special effects. Jones doesn't spend a lot of money on the sets or push them in your face. They are simple toy trucks on a gray moonscape with a picture of the Earth sometimes pasted in the background.
Here, less is more and they work brilliantly.
Jones also gives Sam Rockwell's Bell and Kevin Spacey, who voices the computer, a creative, complicated, and best of all, intelligent plot to play with.
Other than The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and a small part in Cowboys and Aliens, most of Jones' work has been in limited-release flicks for art houses. Rockwell has seen very little exposure to mainstream audiences. Few can do a character with quirks better than Rockwell.
If you didn't see it, a great example is to check out a dark little movie about mental illness and sex addiction called Choke.
Moon gives Rockwell another opportunity to stretch, and he bounces off Spacey's dry menace perfectly. Their fun is yours.
If you haven't seen it, give Moon a shot.
Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars
Director: Duncan Jones
Stars: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey
Rated R for mature themes, language and some violence. It plays once -- at 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 24 -- at the Battelle Auditorium in Richland.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.