Moon Blu-ray Review
Moon is encoded using the AVC MPEG-4 codec. It's presented as a 1080p high definition transfer in its original 2.40:1 ratio.
The visual image is clean with a very fine layer of grain to give it some cinematic feel. What we have here is a faithful rendition of what the director intended put straight onto a blu-ray disc.
The space station is the main film set and the majority of the movie is filmed in quite a constrained environment. The lighting of some of the scenes lacks consistency but the image is always vivid and clear. You won't find yourself peering too hard to see all the detail on offer. The colour palette on the other hand is rather too simplistic and does border on being bland at times.
Blacks are pretty essential for any movie set in space and they are pretty good here. The picture has a pleasing intensity about it and thankfully the contrast levels also help to support a strong image. All is not perfect though as in some of the scenes you do tend to get an over blooming of the whites. Many of the shots on the lunar surface are helped by the introduction of lens flare which was probably a deliberate technique to help disguise the use of models.
After watching the movie a number of times I was left with the feeling that this film was made exactly as the director had intended. The transition to blu-ray appears to have lost nothing so you can be assured you will be watching it as was originally intended. A good effort overall.
The disc comes equipped with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The soundtrack is all about two things; one is the dialogue and the other is Clint Mansell's score.
The only differences I can see with the UK release of this film are the additional audio tracks and European subtitles on the US version of the disc. This US release offers you English, French and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtracks and a Spanish one in 5.1 Dolby Digital.
Dialogue is anchored to the front centre and is clear and precise at all times. Although it's only a 5.1 mix, there has been some effort to give it full channel support. The odd sounds are banded around the room and this creates an atmospheric feeling. It's not overwhelming stuff but its credible enough for this movie.
Clint Mansell's wonderfully melodic score accompanies contemplative scenes and really does add another dimension that helps this movie hit the mark.
Low frequencies are kept fairly minimal but there's the odd strategic thud and rumble that gives the audio a sense of depth and gives it all a spooky and very realistic feeling.
All in all it's a very functional audio track and it very much befits the film.
There's a good selection of extra's on the disc with a mix of both Standard and High Definition material. The disc also allows you explore the BDLive features should your player be enabled and connected to the internet.
Audio Commentaries - There are two commentaries provided on this disc. The first is a four way affair involving Duncan Jones, Gary Shaw (Director of Photography), Gavin Rothery (Concept Designer) and Tony Noble (Production Designer). It's clear that the four of them get along very well outside of work. This is a very fluent and hugely entertaining commentary and there's a lot of affinity going on. Hardly a moment goes by without one guy or the other interjecting with some humour or fact and I'm sure you'll enjoy listening to this one. The second commentary is Duncan Jones with producer Stuart Fenegan. This one is a little more focussed and generally more informative. Both guys reveal more about the film and you get some insight in how they pieced it all together.
Whistle: A short film by Duncan Jones (SD) - 28mins 46secs - Included on the disc is this short piece of early work by Duncan Jones. It's presented in Standard Definition and it's a short piece about political assassinations using a new remote laser technology. It's meant to be a reflective piece about how the conscience can dwell long after the deed is done. Worth watching if not to see the potential Duncan Jones was displaying early on in his career.
The Making of Moon (SD) - 16mins 18secs - Pretty much a standard cast and crew interview feature. It's not that lenghty with Duncan Jones and Sam Rockwell taking centre stage. They talk about the script, production and all the compromises that they had to make in order to make the movie. Amongst all that a few behind the scenes images are spliced into the visual mix.
Creating the Visual Effects (SD) - 11mins 9secs - Simon Stanley-Clamp who was the visual effects supervisor speaks about how the visuals were created. It's a technically articulate overlay but he speaks of how the use of CGI and film techniques helped visualise the look and feel of the base as well as GERTY amongst other things.
Science Centre Q&A with Director Duncan Jones (HD) - 20mins 48secs - Recorded at the Houston Space Centre at a special screening of the film on March 16th 2009. Ben Longmier does the intro but the feature mainly revolves around Duncan answering questions from an audience of scientists.
Filmmaker's Q&A at the Sundance Film Festival (HD) - 11mins 15secs - Moon was premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. After Duncan Jones's introduction he's joined on stage by Sam Rockwell, Stuart Fenegan and Trudie Styler to help square up to the questions aired by the audience.
Theatrical Trailer (HD) - 2mins 8secs - I would strongly advise that you leave watching this trailer until after the movie. Bizarrely, it's almost a complete spoiler of the film so it really is best to leave this until later.
Previews (HD) - A selection of trailers of upcoming movies to whet your appetite.
Moon is quite an achievement. Duncan Jones in making his first major film has proved he has the talent and potential to go far in the industry.
He hasn't tried to re-invent the wheel but by his own admission has borrowed heavily from some classic sci-fi movies. The fact that a sci-fi movie of this sort hasn't been done for quite a while means that a whole new generation will now be treated to a tried and tested formula. That can only bode well for the genre.
Working with an extremely modest budget, making a sci-fi thriller was of course a challenge. However, with the help of a thoroughly excellent performance by Sam Rockwell and a canny voiceover by Kevin Spacey this film has hit all the right notes elsewhere.
The blu-ray disc provides for an excellent all round visual experience and the disc is not region locked. There's a lossless 5.1 DTS Master Audio soundtrack that is equally adept in keeping the visuals company. If you want to have the additional European language soundtracks then this US disc is the one to pick over the UK release. Added to all of this is a healthy bundle of extras which seem to have more intrinsic quality than I was expecting.
Ultimately Moon may not be remembered as the very best or most original sci-fi thriller but it's one that won't escape your notice once you've seen it. Even if it's not quite what you were expecting you have to applaud what such a modest budget has achieved. There is very little not to recommend this film and there is even less not to want to add this blu-ray to your collection; it's a buy.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £23.53
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