Tag Archives: Sci-fi

Moon: An Excellent Film, Period

Duncan Jones’ Moon, is already a sci-fi classic.

What I Remembered: I first saw Moon about a year after it was released. Being an occasional sci-fi viewer, I thought that the concept of it was intriguing. Furthermore, I find that when a science fiction film is good it can be very illuminating and reveal the true talent of the directors and actors in the film. After all, a well executed movie in that genre has to make a world that is not real or based on any historical or present context, feel real. So, with that in mind know nothing of the director, Duncan Jones, but having great respect for Sam Rockwell after seeing him in Matchstick Men, I was interested in seeing where the movie would go. I came away very impressed as it was not only expertly written, acted, and directed, but was filled with many insights and some tributes to classics like 2001. Having watched it again very recently, my esteem for it has only grown.

moon-movie rockwell

The Story: Moon is set in the year 2035. A company known as Lunar Industries has been able to solve all of the Earth’s energy problems by sending astronauts to the Moon and mining a new energy source called Helium 3. In order to cut expenses, the company has developed a program of sending one astronaut at a time to the Moon, and having that astronaut stay there for a three year period. While on the Moon, the astronaut is responsible for mining the Helium 3 and then sending it to Earth in a space capsule. The astronauts live on a base that has been constructed on the far side of the moon.

As Moon opens, it is here that we meet Sam Bell (Rockwell). Sam is nearing the end of his three year rotation with Lunar Industries and is eager to get back to earth to his wife Tess, and their young daughter, Eve. He has presently lost the live feed that the company was sending him so his only contact with the outside world is through a series of prerecorded video messages. Most of these are from his family and keep him going. His only contact within the base is GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey) an artificial intelligence who acts as a kind of caretaker to him. GERTY does everything from cutting Sam’s hair, to administering his medication, to preparing his meals, to even assessing his psychological well-being. As a result, GERTY is a great comfort to Sam.

moon_movie rover

It is implied that the years of continual isolation have begun to take their toll, though. Sam has occasional hallucinations involving a teenage girl, treats the plants that he must tend to as if they’re people by giving them names like Katherine, and by his own admission, is concerned about how much he talks to himself. One morning when Sam has to leave the compound to go onto the lunar surface to fix a problem with the equipment that is used for mining he has an accident in his lunar rover and is rendered unconscious. He awakens some time later, back on the base with GERTY checking on him. Once Sam begins to recover from the accident he will come to learn some disturbing truths and come to realize that everything he thought he knew about his mission, his company, his family, and himself has been wrong.

Technical Details: On a technical level, Moon was almost flawless. Duncan Jones direction was pitch perfect. (It was hard to believe that this was his feature debut. But, after learning that he was the son of the now late and amazing, David Bowie, I was not surprised.) He created the atmosphere of isolation on the Moon with such realism and detail that it was almost awe inspiring. Moreover, he and Nathan Parker penned a top notch story and script. Additionally, Moon was well edited and paced as it moved along nicely with many unexpected twists and turns. Finally, the movie provided some wonderful insights about the dangers of isolation, and the questionable ethical practices that science can engage in in the name of bettering humanity.

Sam rockwell moonHowever without question, the lifeblood of Moon were Sam Rockwell and Kevin Spacey. Rockwell’s acting was phenomenal considering the fact that he was almost the only face seen throughout the entire piece and watching him never got boring. I was waiting with baited breath to see what he was going to do and what was going to happen next, which is no easy feat. This is a great credit to his enormous talent.

Similarly, although I only heard his voice, Kevin Spacey delivered a fine performance as GERTY. He was able to give this piece of artificial intelligence such a life and- for lack of a better word- a humanity that was endearing. Lastly, the fact that GERTY was the polar opposite of HAL in 2001, was a nice touch as well.

End Credits: Moon is an excellent film not just for its genre. It is an excellent film, period. If you like science fiction films, you’ll love it. If you appreciate great acting, you’ll probably love it, too. If you’re interested in world class film making the picture is a great lesson in how it is done. So, you should take a look at Moon if you have a chance. I highly doubt that you will be disappointed.

Ultimate Facts: Interstellar

 

interstellar_movie

Interstellar was released on November 5, 2014.

– Runtime: 169 minutes.

– Produced by Legendary PicturesSyncopyLynda Obst Productions, Paramount, and Warner Bros.

– Directed by Christopher Nolan.

– Christopher Nolan‘s seventh film to be included in the IMDb Top 250.

Interstellar-Christopher-Nolan-Matthew-McConaughey

– The film began as a Paramount production but when Christopher Nolan took the director’s chair, Warner Bros., who has released Nolan’s recent productions, sought a stake in the project. In exchange for international distribution rights, Warner gave Paramount the rights to co-finance future sequels of Friday the 13th and South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut.

– Interstellar made 188 million at the box office on a budget of 165 million.

– Interstellar was the 16th highest grossing film of 2014.

– Given the movie is 169 minutes long and cost approx. $165 million to make, it carries an approximate price tag of $976,000 per minute.

This photo released by Paramount Pictures shows, Matthew McConaughey, left, and Anne Hathaway, in a scene from the film, '"Interstellar," from Paramount Pictures and Warner Brothers Pictures, in association with Legendary Pictures. (AP Photo/Paramount Pictures, Melinda Sue Gordon)

– Interstellar stars Matthew McConaughey as Cooper, Anne Hathaway as Amelia Brand, Michael Caine as Professor Brand, Jessica Chastain as Murph Cooper, and Matt Damon as Dr. Mann.

– The film has five Oscar winners in the cast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway,Michael Caine, Ellen Burstyn, and Matt Damon (although Damon won his award for writing rather than acting). And also includes three Oscar nominees: Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, and John Lithgow.

Interstellar_Matt Damon

Matt Damon was not included in the promotion for the film to keep his appearance a surprise from audiences. His name was not mentioned and he did not attend any of the premieres. In fact, apart from an article in Variety announcing his casting as an “unspecified role,” his role was kept secret until the release of the film.

– Dr. Mann’s name is a reference to the dangers and cruelty humanity often brings upon itself.

– Anne Hathaway‘s character is named Amelia. This may be a nod to famous pilot Amelia Earhart who, like Hathaway’s on-screen persona, was a woman who went further than any other person in exploring and flying.

– This is the sixth collaboration between Michael Caine and Christopher Nolan. The other five titles are: Batman Begins, The Prestige, The Dark KnightInception, and The Dark Knight Rises.

interstellar-michael-caine

– The first Christopher Nolan film where Michael Caine‘s character dies.

– Cooper tells Murph her name means, “Whatever can happen, will happen.” However, Murphy’s law actually states, “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.”

– In order to offer Jessica Chastain her role, Christopher Nolan sent an assistant to Ireland, where she was filming Miss Julie with a script watermarked with Chastain’s name. Chastain was not allowed to keep the script after she read it.

Ultimate Facts – Aliens

Aliens-_Ripley2

80 Ultimate Facts About James Cameron’s Aliens

Aliens was released on July 18, 1986 by 20th Century Fox.

– Runtime: 137 minutes

– The film had a budget of 17.5 million dollars and made 180 million at the box office.

Aliens is the highest grossing film in the Aliens franchise and one of the highest grossing R rated films of all time.

– Director James Cameron’s third movie.

-The movie stars Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley, Micheal Biehn as Corporal Dwayne Hicks, Paul Reiser as Carter Burke, Bill Paxton as Private Hudson, and Lance Henriksen as Bishop.

– When Cameron pitched the movie to Fox executives he simply wrote the word Alien on a chalkboard. Then he wrote an S on the end of it, followed by two dramatic slashes through it to make a $ sign. The studio greenlit the project that same day.

– Cameron was hired to write the script for Aliens on the same day he was hired to write Rambo: First Blood Part II.

Aliens-inside

– The Vietnam War has a heavy influence on the film as Cameron envisioned the movie being about a technically superior and cocky military defeated and frustrated by an unseen enemy in a hostile environment.

– After he was hired to direct the film Cameron took time off to film The Terminator. Instead of pursuing other directors to move the project forward Fox waited for Cameron to finish.

– James Cameron married producer Gale Anne Hurd during production.

– Before signing on to Aliens, Sigourney Weaver had rejected numerous offers to reprise Ripley in potential sequels to Alien but turned them all down as she was afraid poorly written sub-par sequels would harm the legacy of the original film.

– Sigourney Weaver would reprise the character of Ellen Ripley in future sequels. Alien 3, and Alien: Resurrection.

James Cameron Aliens

– With contract negotiations with Weaver to return faltered Fox execs asked Cameron to write a script without Ripley. Cameron refused as he believed the series was all about the character.

– Sigourney Weaver was paid 1 million dollars for the sequel. 30 times what she was paid in the original movie.

– Weaver was nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award for the film. The first ever for a female in an action role.

– Weaver was originally disturbed the military themes of the movie. She avoided seeing movies with guns and even donated money to anti-gun lobbies.

– She nicknamed Ripley, “Rambolina” in the film because of her warrior nature.

– There was a massive walk out of the crew on set due to high tensions revolving around a distrust of James Cameron. His first film, The Terminator hadn’t been released yet and many of the crew questioned if Cameron knew what he was doing.