The Moon is now available from Well Go USA.
Director Kim Yong-hwa’s ability to tell big and epic stories remains as spectacular and thrilling as you can expect with his latest sci-fi thriller, The Moon. I will say that just a little bit of the writing fumbles early in the first half but picks almost lithely back up with moments of pure suspense and upheaval at a healthy pace enough to warrant recommending.
At the heart of the story is a redemption tale that centers on Jae-kook (Sol Kyung-gu), who runs a remote astronomics observatory far and away from his heyday as the promising director of operations surrounding South Korea’s ambitious efforts to put one of its own on the moon. That effort occurred five years ago and it ended in a tragedy that’s since carried over to the present day when the son of the former team’s departed, Sun-woo (Do Kyung-soo) joins a trio of astronauts looking to help South Korea make history, politics be damned.
The launch itself is a promising success, save for solar winds that cripples communications for several days with the Korean space module still in orbit, along with the inevitable catastrophe that ensues. As the film’s plot reveals, Sun-woo, still green to an extent and now no longer reliant on his cohorts who’ve succumbed to the outer space disaster, is left to the devices of ground control, where a reluctant Jae-kook is urgently escorted at the last minute to aid in Sun-woo’s hopeful journey home.
The lynchpin, sadly, is the tragic history they both share which only emboldens Sun-woo against Jae-kook’s better judgement to proceed to the moon in memory of his fallen team members. From that point on, it’s only a matter of time until Sun-woo’s chances at surviving his stay on the moon’s unstable surface begin to fluctuate to life-threatening levels, between deadly meteor showers and the damage affecting his equipment. Topped off with bureaucracy intermittently threatening to hamper the mission, Jae-kook and his internet-savvy intern Han-byeol (Hong Seung-hee) will be forced to take maverick measures to ensure Sun-woo’s survival.
Sun-woo’s relationship to Jae-kook is a fairly-paced endeavor in exploring the origins of how the latter’s life came to fall apart in the time spanning from five years earlier to now. That arc also introduces the role of NASA general director Moon-yung, a.k.a. Jennifer (Him Hee-ae), and Sun-woo’s father, Kyu-tae (guest-performed by Lee Sung-min) in several flashback moments, as well as Naro Space Center head Min-gyu (Park Byung-eun).
One discernible characteristic of The Moon is that it goes hard on nationalistic fervor amid the backdrop of the story, substantiated by the film’s inclusive casting of ancillary non-Korean characters and dialogue partly written in English to better suit the film’s overall coverage. This aspect of the film picks up quite progressively as the film stretches into the second half when it’s Go-time for our characters to galvanize their efforts.
Another key element in the film’s delivery is how unnerving the events become as we follow Sun-woo’s harrowing adventure on the moon’s surface during every precarious second. His only other aid assisting him apart from periodic word from ground control is a high-powered drone which Sun-woo makes fair use of in getting him out of some pretty serious situations when they arise. The cinematography works great in capturing every moment that occurs during these trials, from the explosive and tumultuous points to the more dramatic and sobering ones.
I don’t have anything too critical to add when it comes to the special visual effects. I thought they were nice and crisp and met the standard when hybridized alongside practical setups adding the requisite quality to director Kim’s efforts at setting the bar high in creating a rollercoaster thrillride, and the story ends on a solid and heartfelt note fitting for a story of inspiration that should service well anyone who still gets their rocks off of Armageddon and Gravity.
Native New Yorker. Lover of all things pizza, chocolate, pets, and good friends. Karaoke hero. Left of center. Survivor. Fond supporter of cult, obscure and independent cinema - especially fond of Asian movies and global action cinema. Author of the bi-weekly Hit List. Founder and editor of Film Combat Syndicate. Still, very much, only human.