SPECIAL FEATURES B+
DVD GEEK FACTOR 9
(OUT OF 10)
If you've read this week's cover story, you already know that this is my favorite live-action movie from last year. Duncan Jones made an astonishing feature-directing debut with this low-budget sci-fi film that is so much more than just sci-fi.
Sam Rockwell plays Sam Bell, a miner working on a three-year contract on the moon. He's just a couple of weeks away from returning to Earth, his wife and new daughter. When something goes wrong with one of his remote-mining vehicles, he takes a little drive to see what's up and gets into an accident.
His computer GERTY (the voice of Kevin Spacey) wakes him up after the accident and tells him everything is going to be OK, but he can't leave the base due to corporate orders. Sam says screw it, takes a ride out to the scene of his accident and finds something rather disturbing.
Listen: Don't watch the trailers, and if you get the DVD, don't watch the features before the movie. It's best to see this movie with no knowledge of its big twists. I will just say that Rockwell delivers the kind of performance that demands recognition, yet he has gone virtually unnoticed during awards season. Hell, this is a British-made film, and he didn't even get a BAFTA nomination (although Duncan Jones and the film got some nods). Rockwell does get a Grimmy Award in this issue, but that's not going to increase his future paychecks.
Jones and his crew utilized a lot of old-school special effects on a miniscule budget, and the results look great. He claims that this film was the brainchild of a meeting between him and Rockwell, during which Rockwell said he would love to do a science-fiction film. Moon is a science-fiction film specifically written for Sam Rockwell, and that's just as cool as it gets.
I think time will treat this film well, and it will attain some cult status. If you are a Rockwell fan, it is sheer heaven. If you are unfamiliar with his work, see this film, and find out why I'm so freaking in love with this guy. What he does here is nothing short of amazing.
SPECIAL FEATURES: Jones, who seems like he might just be the nicest guy in show business, participates in two commentaries and a making-of documentary. There is also a question-and-answer session at the Sundance Film Festival screening. I had no idea that Trudie Styler, wife of Sting, was a producer on this film. Apparently, Sting himself had a lot to do with this story reaching the big screen. Thank you, Mr. Sting!
The Brothers Bloom (Blu-Ray)
SPECIAL FEATURES B
DVD GEEK FACTOR 4.5
(OUT OF 10)
Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo star as two con-men brothers who set their sights on an eccentric, shut-in millionaire (Rachel Weisz) in this Wes Anderson-wannabe movie from director Rian Johnson.
The true reason to see this film, which isn't very good, is Ruffalo, who puts up one of his best acting jobs in years. It's too bad the movie itself is an unfocussed mishmash of uninteresting con jobs and self-indulgent directorial flourishes. Johnson (who directed the much better Brick) utilizes music and slo-mo in a way that should've set Anderson's lawyers into attack mode.
It's a good cast, and there are pleasant stretches, but the film feels like it's straining in the end. For every good moment—and there are some that are truly funny—there's something that's muddled and bland. Brody and Ruffalo aren't convincing as brothers (that's mostly Brody's fault), and the usually impressive Weisz fails to impress.
It's too bad, because Johnson showed a lot of promise with Brick. If you catch this on cable, watch it for the Ruffalo parts. He's superb.
SPECIAL FEATURES: A director's commentary, deleted scenes and plenty of behind-the-scenes stuff.
SPECIAL FEATURES C-
DVD GEEK FACTOR 4
(OUT OF 10)
A while back, I called Avatar "a rich man's Surrogates," and I stick by that statement. The two films have a lot in common.
Bruce Willis plays an FBI agent in a world where people control robot versions of themselves. They sit in chairs and send idealized versions of themselves out into the world to live their lives while they stay safe at home.
Willis is his usual cool self here, but the film feels a bit empty-headed in the end, as if a lot of cool stuff wound up on the cutting-room floor. I was hoping for a "director's cut" on this one, but this is just the theatrical version. It feels too slick and homogenized.
It's worth noting that the CGI, idealized version of Bruce Willis is just as creepy as Sigourney Weaver in Avatar. Actually, scratch that ... nothing is creepier than Weaver in Avatar.
SPECIAL FEATURES: A director's commentary and a stupid music video.