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Moon – Script Review


Script: Moon by Duncan Jones and Nathan Parker

Logline: Astronaut Sam Bell has a quintessentially personal encounter toward the end of his three-year stint on the Moon, where he, working alongside his computer, GERTY, sends back to Earth parcels of a resource that has helped diminish our planet’s power problems.

Hi all.

As I read today’s script I couldn’t help but thinking, “This is exactly what you DON’T want to do when writing a contained thriller/suspense film.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, Moon is a cool story and I was pretty amazed when I watched it the first time, but why are contained thrillers generally a success? Because they’re cheap to make.

Nothing cheap about setting your story on the Moon in a near futuristic mining base. Oh, and you have a robot that glides around via a track. (Have fun props department!)

Since there’s no real question that deals with this, and doesn’t hurt the story really, I just wanted to get it out of the way up front.

The goal of the scripts we write (and I’m still a HUGE believer that we as unknowns should be trying to do this) is to limit the locations so that it’s cheaper to produce and we’re maximizing the number of potential buyers.

That’s just good business.

1.) Can we visualize the description?

Description was pretty good.

Page 2:

Desolation. Serious, uncompromising, desolation. This place makes Antarctica look like Tokyo.

I liked that. Let’s me know how alone Sam really is up there.

Another from page 67:

Sam 1 reaches the bottom of the ladder. He’s in a dark
room, a kind of CHAMBER — if NASA did crypts, it would
look like this.

This tone was very subtle (probably something I need to work on), but it carried throughout the script.

All good.

The one probable I had though was that there was a lot of description. It was broken up into smaller blocks, but there were times when no one said anything.

Felt like watching a drawn out mime act.

9 out of 10 points.

2.) Does the author use an acceptable format?

Format was that of a shooting script, but very readable. (Unlike a few others we’ve done, lol.)

Two problems here.


It was too much in this script, and it’s boring reading “we” over and over again.

Happened throughout the script, but here’s a perfect example from page 7:

we hear brief clips…

We take in…

…his entry while we

And this last one the author didn’t even have the courtesy to finish.

Page 30:

A desolation special. The blacker than black sky above.
None of the ingredients of life. On Earth we have
rainforests, and flowers, and birds. We have color. Up here we realize how lucky we are.

A simple fix for this? Say it another way that doesn’t involve “we.” It can be done, cause it’s done all the time in other (better?) scripts.


There were a few in there, but THREE times the word “prize” was typed instead of “pry.” As in like “pry open.”

This had to be a conscious mistake, because although the two words sound alike, they’re drastically different. It was very jarring, especially seeing it at various points in the script.

Other typos:

Collum instead of column.

Hey instead of they.

Prize instead of pries.

(That one only happened once I think, unlike my original comment for this question.)

These are the easiest problems to fix, and that prize one especially, having a friend or family member read it, they’d have caught it.

Show the reader you value his or her time by valuing your script’s presentation.

6 out of 10 points.

3.) Is the dialogue free of exposition and rich in subtext? Does each character have a unique voice?

Exposition was handled pretty well.

For instance, Sam’s communications are being blocked to Earth, but he doesn’t know that. This is presented though by him asking Gerty if the satellite is still down.

Also, they can’t fix it allegedly because money is tight due to the Jupiter fiasco (which is referenced, but it keeps us wondering especially towards the end).

This all comes out in dialogue.

Other than that though, Gerty and Sam 1 (even Sam 2 once he’s awake) have unique voices, but the dialogue’s nothing to write home about.

It does a good job of moving the story forward, breaking up the description, BUT it lacked the luster that the dialogue of say Training Day had.

8 out of 10 points.

4.) Does the writer understand the challenges and rewards posed by the medium chosen in which to tell his/her story? Shorthand version of this is: Is it a movie and not a play?

Sans the giant moon rovers and harvesters, this would be an interesting play.

Given the modern theater, they could probably even incorporate those somehow too.

I guess this is the case for all contained thrillers.

Having said all that, I still feel a greater emotional impact is felt using the film medium.

7 out of 10 points.

5.) Is there anything unique in what the writer presents? Are the writer’s ideas, based on this sample, likely to continue to be original?

The script was a mind trip.

The twist and turns of Sam 1 and 2 figuring out who’s the real clone, what’s going on down on Earth, all of it stays suspenseful.

I’d like to assume the author could carry that through to other stories, and not in an exact BIG FINAL TWIST way that M. Night always tries for.

10 out of 10 points.

6.) Does the script have a hook?

For me, the script starts off slow.

The one saving grace is that it’s a mining base on the moon, but Sam’s doing really mundane things.

Is the fact that he’s so bored on the moon interesting? Maybe it was meant to be, but I still think there could be more.

10 out of 15 points.

7.) Is that hook effective?

Things pick up after that, and we’re treated to the actual mining operation (which is cool).

Also Sam’s seeing things, or thing, in the form of a teenage girl he knows isn’t there.

On top of that, he’s getting the feeling something’s wrong with the messages coming from Tess. She’s not referencing any of the topics he’s talked to her about in previous messages.

This leads him to believe that things aren’t on the up and up with Lunar Industries.

15 out of 15 points.

8.) Is there enough to maintain the hook? Reveals, conflict, etc.?

The rest of the script moves along, and at 97 pages there’s not a lot of room for fluff.

You all know I’m a sucker for midpoints, especially when they’re there, but you don’t realize it unless you’re looking for it.

Moon has one where Sam 1 and Sam 2 are face to face, and they realize this shouldn’t have happened.

They know one or both of them is being played by the company.

Bravo, and I love me a good midpoint.

Other than that, the rest of the plot is good, and you can read it for yourself, as it is a very interesting, twisting story.

10 out of 10 points.

9.) Does the story play to a target audience, and have the elements demanded by that audience?

Well, the film cost around $5 million to make, and took in $5,009,677. Ouch. But at least they didn’t lose money, right?

However, no one’s rushing to make a sequel.

I’m rather confused as to why this was. Maybe it was a limited release, but as I said, the story appealed to me, and I’m not the typical independent film junkie enjoying things only because few people do.

Maybe it was just marketed wrong.

Aside from that, there were some plot stretches.

How many Sams were there already? Eve is only 15, and he left before she was born, so at most we have MAYBE 6 Sams if each one lasted his full 3 years?

The past videos made it seem like this has been going on for much longer. Not to mention the army of sleeping Sams under the return vehicle.

How long can the company keep this up? Won’t technology eventually outpace itself, that they’ve wasted money on unused Sams?

This was a serious logistical problem for me, lol.

The one other thing I didn’t like as a reader, was how things were named. I could take the harvesters being named after New Testament books, and Gerty being a Gert unit or whatever, but about the time I had to refer to the main computer as “The Old Man,” I was over the author showing me how clever he was. Especially because those small things didn’t add anything to the story.

6 out of 10 points.


This story was cool. I’ve already said that.

Personally, I think it should have done better than the last questions stated.

Unfortunately though, that initial price tag was a bad starting point, and I refer to my initial statement.

Remember, if we’re going to shoot a contained thriller, make it someplace easy and leave out any fancy and expensive props. Focus on good storytelling first, then when you add in all the glitz and glamour in your later scripts, it’ll have all the more impact.

Total 81 out of 100 points.

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  1. One small quible: prize is a perfectly acceptable spelling of the word ‘prise’:

    prise, prize [praɪz]
    vb (tr)
    1. to force open by levering
    2. to extract or obtain with difficulty

    Oddly, it is usually the American spelling that prefers ‘z’ over ‘s’: analyze, capitalize. On the other side of the pond, they tend to prefer analyse and capitalise.

    I would expect that Duncan Jones would use the British spelling, so I guess the ‘s’ vs. ‘z’ tendency is flipped in this case.

    • My apologies then to our friends across the pond.

      I wonder why we changed it to “pry” and “pries” over here.

      Just had a “the more you know moment” as I’ve never heard “prize” used for anything other than something you win.

      Thank you.

      • No problem. I’ve honestly never heard the word used in speech, but I see it often enough in books.
        Thanks for all your hard work doing script analysis, it’s always a great learning experience.


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