Saturday, January 23, 2010

Moon Blu-ray review

My most favorite film of the summer finally gets it's home video release, as well as it's chance to finally get viewed by those who missed out on it's extremely limited release. Does Duncan Jones' fantastic debut film shine on Blu-ray just as it did in theaters? Well, that's what reading is for...

Just a fun side note, this is my second ever live-action disc purchase, seriously. The first being Star Trek; and being as this is a single disc, I'll break it down differently than I would a typical Blu-ray review.

The Movie
I could go on and on about why I loved Moon, from the compelling sense of mystery, to the great performances by Sam Rockwell, the beautifully retro sci-fi look that Duncan Jones gave the film, or even Clint Mansell's great score for the film. There's just so much to love about Moon, but it would be ridiculous for me to repeat myself, so I'll just leave a link to my original review of Moon, which was given a prestigious VFH Seal of Approval.

Anyways, visually, the movie in 1080p looks just as beautiful if not better than the small screen I saw it on in theaters. And for most people viewing this Blu-ray, it's the first time they're seeing this film, so it's nice to see it looking so good. But that's also kind of a sad fact, since Sony Pictures Classics didn't really give this film much of a media push, that the home release is the only chance most people would have had to see this critically acclaimed film, and it's become very evident in its lack of recognition in this awards season.

There are actually two commentary tracks on the Moon Blu-ray. The first of which is between Writer/Director Duncan Jones, Director of Photography Gary Shaw, Concept Designer Gavin Rothery, and Production Designer Tony Noble. While there's a lot of neat trivial facts pointed out during this commentary, I found a lot of it was filled with these fours guys goofing off and getting a little off track or just talking over each other.

The second commentary track is just between Duncan Jones and Producer Stuart Fenegan, and is like night and day from the previous one in the sense the this one is all serious. Granted there's some joking around, but Duncan and Stuart are never speaking over each other or going off on tangents like in the other commentary track. There's some repetition of trivial facts, but granted that there's a different individual here it's understandable. Honestly, if this was the only commentary track, the set would be better off, but at least this is included instead of just the other one.

Aside from commentary there are some other special features available on this Blu-ray. But unlike the film, these are sadly mostly all in standard definition, and kind of ruin the point of having a Blu-ray in the first place. The other issue I had is the exclusivity of the special features. There are two behind the scenes videos showing the production of Moon, the first, The Making of Moon, runs over 16 minutes, but has been available for free on iTunes since mid-December. The other making of short, Creating the Visual Effects, isn't available eslewheres, but it too is short, running just over 11 minutes. They're both really interesting, sure, I had no idea all the scenes on the Moon surface were make with miniatures, RC cars and matte paintings; but the short run time and standard definition isn't really satisfying.

But there's more! There are two Q&A session with Duncan Jones included on the set. One at NASA after a screening of the film (20 minutes and HD), and another from the film's Sundance Film Festival premiere (11 minutes and HD), the latter of which includes the production staff and Sam Rockwell as well. I found both to be pretty informative regarding the film's influences and scientific background, and I'm glad the Sundance Q&A was included because it's the only part of this set with Sam Rockwell saying something about the film. But like the Making of short, the Q&A with NASA has been available since the film's release via the official Moon website, so it doesn't feel like a special inclusion here.

Lastly, included is an, unrelated to Moon, 2002 short film of Duncan Jones' called Whistle, which until now hasn't been commercially released. Like Moon, it's kind of hard to explain with delving too much into detail, but it's certainly got some smarts to it. I was a bit unsure of it at first, but I really liked it come the end, and it's nice to see Jones' leap in film making. Heck, I even got a Twitter response out of Duncan Jones just for saying that I liked it!

There's the lone trailer for Moon included here as well, along with trailers for other Sony Pictures films. BD-Live is then menu, but upon accessing it all I got was an empty menu where I supposedly should have Sony Pictures content, quite frankly I don't care though, since BD-Live is generally a forgotten feature.

Final Thoughts
I loved Moon, and I still do, there's no arguing that. In fact, I'd say it's one of most inspiring science fiction films released in the last 10 years, even if itself is inspired by numerous classic sci-fi films. Sam Rockwell is fantastic, Kevin Spacey's voice work is so fitting for a robot, Clint Mansell's score is brilliant, and Duncan Jones did a wonderful job of showing off his talent as an emerging film maker. Sure, the extras aren't the greatest, especially if you're looking for an HD experience (that's why you bought a Blu-ray player right?), but they are informative for those interested in the science and production of the film. If you missed the chance to see Moon in theaters, please, do yourself a favor and watch it on Blu-ray (or DVD if you must), this film is just fantastic!

Overall Score: 8.5/10

Be sure to read my original Moon review, in which the film was given our VFH Seal of Approval.

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