February 12, 2024

THE MOON Walks a Fine Line

THE MOON (Blu-ray)
2023 / 123 min
Review by Mr. Bonnie (the bastard)😺

Walking a fine line between the plausibility of Gravity and the silly spectacle of Armageddon is Korea’s The Moon. But even though this stranded-in-space epic requires an increasing suspension of disbelief, it’s pretty entertaining. 

Five years after a tragic space disaster, South Korea is making a second attempt to land on the moon. But during this voyage, solar flares disrupt most of the on-board systems. Two of the crew are killed, leaving the least experienced one, Hwang Seon-woo (Do Kyung-soo), on his own. Meanwhile, mission control coerces former flight director Kim Jae-guk (Sol Kyung-gu) out of seclusion to talk Hwang through restoring the systems to survive. Still reeling from the previous tragedy, for which he feels partially responsible, Kim has a personal stake in bringing Hwang back home alive.

However, Hwang decides to complete the moon mission himself, which results in further peril when a meteor storm cripples his lander. Realizing they are now unable to rescue Hwang with their own resources, Kim implores his estranged ex-wife, Moon Young (Kim Hee-ae), who works at NASA, for assistance. But despite her efforts, the other NASA bigwigs sternly refuse…at least until one of Hwang’s radio transmissions is leaked and goes viral on social media. 

Hwang forgets where he parked.
For the most part, the film is exciting and suspenseful, boasted by excellent special effects and - once things get rolling - a lively pace. For a while, Hwang’s dilemma is similar to those in such classics as Apollo 13 and Gravity. It does grow sillier as it goes along, though, especially the sequences taking place on the moon, which might even elicit a few chuckles. But by now, we’re invested enough in the story to just roll with it.

While Kim is a well-realized main character - played with appropriate pathos by Kyung-gu - some others are either needlessly stupid (including Hwang) or over-the-top caricatures, such as the two perpetually screaming Korean officials. Worst of all is NASA's deputy director, who threatens and sneers like a Bond villain (hamfistedly establishing NASA as the bad guys).

Still, The Moon is a lot of fun. We don’t buy everything we see and hear, but the film is well-directed, looks great and features solid performances (save for Paul de Havilland’s hilariously distracting one-note turn as the aforementioned NASA man). Alternately gripping and outlandish, at least it’s never boring.


FEATURETTES - Behind the Scenes; Character Bios.


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