The Korea Herald


[Herald Review] High-quality, realistic visual effects lift ‘The Moon’ beyond banal plotline

By Kim Da-sol

Published : Aug. 2, 2023 - 14:46

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A scene from “The Moon” (CJENM) A scene from “The Moon” (CJENM)

After several attempts, the spaceship finally rises high in the sky. Despite small errors and an unfortunate accident losing two fellow spaceship crew members, the youngest and the most unprofessional astronaut inside the damaged spaceship pushes ahead with the mission to land on the moon. But will he be able to get back to Earth safely?

This kind of imaginative story taking place in outer space is nothing new to moviegoers these days, with moon-themed sci-fi movies from around the world such as “Interstellar” and “Gravity” having already hit screens. So what sets director Kim Yong-hwa’s new film, “The Moon,” apart from them? What’s different is the incorporation of high-quality computer graphics and visual effects to offer the audience a realistic experience, as if they were stranded on the moon themselves.

The film is largely led by Sun-woo (Do Kyung-soo), the lone astronaut on the moon. After he is abandoned on the moon, he tries to fix the spaceship and communicate with his team on Earth, including the former head of the space center, Jae-kook (Sol Kyung-gu). NASA’s main director, Moon-young (Kim Hee-ae), joins efforts to save this young Korean astronaut. But he has never driven a spaceship. Continued meteor showers threaten his survival.

While the audience is left with a very obvious ending, the realistic portrayal of the moon and the space center props have them holding their breath.

A scene from “The Moon” (CJENM) A scene from “The Moon” (CJENM)

Director Kim used an Imax camera with a 4K lens, along with 45 other camera lenses, to bring a realistic atmosphere to the film. “The Moon” is the first Korean film to do so.

“What I think highly about this film is that, with a 28-billion-won budget, it is impossible to make such a quality film. I focused on good value for money, by lowering the number of shots but increasing the quality by adding more angles and textures to really offer a picture-like accuracy of the scenes depicting the moon. That was my key point for the production. Besides that, in terms of the drama, I tried to portray feelings, which I’m good at,” said Kim during a press conference held after the film’s screening on July 25.

Thanks to Kim’s tremendous focus on portraying the landscape of the moon, the audience feels as if they were racing away on a lunar roving vehicle to avoid a meteor shower and freefalling from the exploding spaceship.

Other than that, the flow of the drama is a bit sloppy and there is no explanation about the relationships between characters, leaving the audience disappointed when the 129-minute film ends.

Kim’s repeated themes of forgiveness, redemption and love for humanity that were on display in “Along with Gods” and “Take Off” once again make an appearance in this film. But the presence of such weighty messages hampers the audience from fully feeling the emotions of the three protagonists and enjoying the heart-thumping action scenes on the moon.

“The Moon” opened in local theaters Wednesday.