Moon is the first feature to be directed by Duncan Jones, who is David Bowie's son, and he brings it a grimy industrial look, as well as witty touches like giving Gerty a smiley-face screen that changes expression in tandem with Spacey's voice.
The film's ideas are interesting, but don't feel entirely worked out, and Mr. Rockwell's intriguingly strange performance (or performances) is left suspended, without the context that would give Sam's plight its full emotional and philosophical impact.
Written and directed by the first-time director Duncan Jones, Moon devotes itself to the mystery of the multiplying Sams. It's a modest, melancholic undertaking, and a little virtuous, too.
Impressively pulled together on a modest budget, Moon has a strong lead and a valid philosophical premise but, despite Bell's fissured psyche, the drama is inert. Ground control to Major Tom: Moon orbits an idea, but it doesn't go anywhere.
Moon is a superior example of that threatened genre, hard science-fiction, which is often about the interface between humans and alien intelligence of one kind of or other, including digital.
In the end, Moon raises disturbing ethical questions about science and bioengineering, but it's the emotional questions the film poses -- about memory, about family, about identity -- that really resonate.
The whole film feels like a throwback to classic sci-fi films (think 2001, Blade Runner), days that didn't rely so much on CGI but on good old-fashioned and clammy human panic.