Saturday, October 02, 2010

Moon (the movie) Revisited

I saw the movie "Moon" on an international flight some months back. It was seat-back video in economy on a 777, so we're not talking big screen here. I was probably tired too. I wanted to like it, but I thought it was stupid. When it showed up as a streaming Netflix movie (in HD), I decided to give it a no-cost second chance. I'm glad I did, because on a good size screen, the visuals were really cool and "realistic" in a 2001 sort of way. I liked Sam Rockwell's character, and this time I caught the early clues as to what was going on, so it didn't seem quite so arbitrary and confusing. Still quite implausible, but it paid off my suspension of disbelief well enough to forgive the original premise.

That premise is a lunar far-side Helium-3 mining base (in the semi-near future) that is essentially 100% robotically operated, except for a single human troubleshooter employee who is stationed there alone for a three-year tour, during which the lunar communication relay satellite that would allow direct communication with Earth seems to always be out of commission. I won't spoil it otherwise, but Sam eventually figures it out, with some significant help from his sidekick, a robot named Gerty (voiced by Kevin Spacey). Part of what's implausible is that with robotic AI technology as smart and sensitive as Gerty, why couldn't the base be completely robotic (with some help from telepresence systems that would allow Earth or lunar near-side humans to do the troubleshooting without living in total isolation for three years - or something like that).

One parallel with 2001 is a robotic assistant who (which?) goes crazy. Unlike HAL, Gerty doesn't become a psychotic murderer, but he does go so far outside of any conceivable programming that you could only call it crazy helpful (it's nice when your robot buddy tells you how to selectively erase some of his memories to prevent the boss humans from learning about something you're trying to hide that he/it would otherwise have recorded and would report). But hey, it's just a movie, and a pretty enjoyable (though sad) one at that.

1 comment:

Paul said...

are u an astronuat or a movie lover?