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Movie Review: Easy to Enjoy, ‘The Moon’ Can Also Be a Rallying Cry

The Moon is a film that is easy to enjoy and appreciate with a dedicated call for its viewers to dream bigger and to unite for humanity’s sake.

Director and screenwriter Kim Yong-hwa is no stranger to the big budget, special effects heavy narratives with a strong emotional core. He did ‘Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds’ and ‘Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days,’ which features both aspects of his strengths. He capitalizes on these qualities again on his latest film ‘The Moon’ with Do Kyung-soo (more famously known as D.O. of EXO), Sol Kyung Gu, and Kim Hee-Ae. Very reminiscent of similar trapped-in-space stories like ‘Gravity’ or ‘The Martian,’ Do Kyung-soo plays Hwang Sun-woo, a former Navy Seal turned astronaut, who is one of the three Korean men sent to the moon. When an incident leaves Hwang Sun-woo stranded and alone in space, the ground command of the Korean Space program must find a way to help him back to Earth.

While the film has its share of exciting thrills and spills – it features quite a number of amazing set ups involving meteor showers and exploding space crafts – it also has its fair share of touching emotional moments and some exciting suspense plot in terms of the inner workings of competing space programs.

While one can find a lot of fun with just the survival aspect of the movie alone; Kim Yong-hwa adds more to the plate by adding a dramatic layer for Do Kyung-soo’s character to chew on. Hwang Sun-woo has a personal tie to the mission and it informs on his drive to complete the mission despite everything going against him. The same with Sol Kyung Gu’s Jae Kook, who also has a personal relationship with the whole endeavour. After all, he was the first director the Korean space program where the astronauts who were sent to moon did not make it alive.

From these events comes a story that contextualizes the power that it gives any country that manages a successful space program. ‘The Moon’ manages to give us insight over a country’s determination to be considered at par with the superpowers around them. As Filipinos, we’ve already succumbed to the soft power of South Korea. We help sell-out their Kpop concerts and fan meets with their actors. We’ve helped push their media into the top 10 of any streaming site and we’ve become familiar with their food, some famous phrases, and such. The world is starting to see South Korea in a separate light but ‘The Moon’ helps us contextualize things that I’ve also seen in other Korean dramas and movies and read in some articles: that South Korea also has a form of colonial mentality of their own. Much like how a number of Kpop acts look to America for recognition (like The Grammy awards) or appearance in music festivals like Coachella or how the Academy Award win for ‘Parasite’ was such a big thing for them, there seems to be an underlying message that is familiar to us Filipinos: that the west (and recognition from the west) is a powerful thing.

What’s great about ‘The Moon’ is that the film aspires to go beyond that and that it sends a clear message that South Korea has the capacity to do it on their own. From the strong images and the narrative choices that the film makes: how NASA is a competitor, not an ally (and in some ways, they are the bad guys, which is a welcome change); how politicians can still be a hindrance to the growth of any country (as played by Jo Han Chul, who is excellent in these kinds of roles); and how South Korea can come together and save one man trapped in the moon.

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The film is so tonally precise that it employs great epic music to really push the emotions of the viewers to where it wants it to go, it can be manipulative the way commercial films always are and can promise a great time. I do have issues with certain emotional scenes that were not set-up properly. There is a third act subplot that is introduced, which may have benefitted from an earlier set up as well as a story point that becomes morally objectionable that isn’t resolve in a satisfying manner (in my opinion).

But overall, ‘The Moon’ is a film that is easy to enjoy and appreciate with a dedicated call for its viewers to dream bigger and to unite for humanity’s sake.

My Rating:

5 stars - Don't Look Up review



THE MOON will be shown in cinemas nationwide starting August 16. Buy your tickets here.

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The Moon
Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction
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