MOON, directed by first-timer Duncan Jones from Nathan Parker’s screenplay based on Jones’s story, is a sci-fi thriller which is too slow to be thrilling and not slow enough to be 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. Which it would very much like to be:
Not only have they stolen designer Tony Masters’ hexagonal corridor from 2001, they’ve stolen the font seen everywhere in the Discovery spacecraft. It’s all over MOON, and it strikes me as a terrible miscalculation. I’m all for the odd little homage, but you should never forcibly remind the audience of a better film that the one they’re watching.
Continuing with the minuses, we have Kevin Spacey quite literally phoning in his performance as the HAL-9000-like computer, GERTY-3000. We have a ludicrous reason to be on the moon in the first place: a fusion plant consisting of sorta combine harvester things that somehow extract “the sun’s energy” from the dark side of the moon and can it up as “Helium-3” to send back to Earth. I imagine everybody on Earth speaking in a squeaky voice.
This slightly impractical solution to global warming comes by way of producer Trudie Styler, the eco-warrier famed for her tendency to fly everywhere by private jet — she must have a carbon footprint the size of Kitten Kong. If you’re capable of believing your lifestyle is doing more harm than good, you’re probably capable of believing in Helium-3.
Derivative design aside, MOON looks handsome on a deceptively low budget, and if you can overlook questions like “Why does a one-man lunar base come equipped with an entire fleet of moon-buggies?” then the plot is fairly compelling and unusual. And if you’re going to do a movie where basically one actor is onscreen the whole time, this film makes a good case for that actor being Sam Rockwell. What a charming fellow.
Now, since the character/s Sam plays is/are called Sam Bell (to say more would be unfair), you might be forgiven for thinking “Sam (Rockw)ell… Sam (B)ell… I bet they tailored the part for him.” But I don’t believe this is the case. I think probably the character name called the actor to mind and they had the good sense to grab him. Here’s how I think the character was named in the first place ~
In 2001 Keir Dullea plays the hero, Dave Bowman.
The soul duo Sam & Dave creates a clear word association between the name “Dave” and the name “Sam.”
The London-centric expression “born within the sound of Bow bells” gives us the word “Bow” next to the word “bells.”
This explanation is so ingenious and intricate, I don’t believe the filmmakers consciously devised it. But I think that’s where the name came from nevertheless.