IIIsolation makes space movies fascinating and terrifying. Stripped of anything familiar and comfortable, facing the vast emptiness of the universe can push anyone close to the edge. This is what the Korean film “The Moon” is anchored on.
It stars Doh Kyung-soo, also known as EXO’s D.O. The K-pop star has proven his mettle in acting a long time ago and him becoming the poster boy of this film showcases that. He can draw the crowd, sustain their interest and make the audience feel the desperation of his character.
He plays Hwang Sun-woo, the only survivor of South Korea’s lunar exploration spacecraft called Woori-ho. The crew faced solar flares early on which led to the demise of other crew members. This was expected given that the trailer for the film shows him navigating the surface of the moon by himself.
There are no grand missions here. The crew is not trying to save the Earth from impending doom. In fact, the goal is deceptively simple: do a Neil Armstrong. Land successfully on the moon.
The riveting plot revolves around Sun-woo and the fragility of his situation. The film gives a background of a mission from five years ago and explores how it connects to him. It tackles rectification of previous mistakes and doing better.
The intensity of Doh in this film makes him perfect for the role. Sun-woo’s recollections of memories of his father, played by Lee Sung-min (“Reborn Rich”), are heart-wrenching. Sun-woo is forced to face the demons that haunted him in the past while fighting for his survival. It makes you root for him.
Even when surrounded by advanced technology, wearing a multimillion space suit, Doh is stripped down to his raw emotions under the direction of Kim Yong-hwa. The two have worked together previously in “Along with the Gods.”
The moon comes alive through the storytelling of Kim. He was able to translate the contrast of the suffocating grandness of space versus the comfort of a cramped aircraft in the film. Kim was also able to show that outer space is governed by nature—exploding, dangerous and beautiful.
Just like “Along with the Gods,” mankind is shown as an infinitesimal nuisance that tries to understand a colossal secret of the universe. Yet, mankind perseveres. Sun-woo is assisted by allies on Earth led by former head of the space center Jae-guk (played by Sol Kyung-gu).
Women are sparse in the film, but they hold key roles. Hong Seung-hee plays Han-byeol. Her character is a genius in understanding space and human relations. The Gen Z-er used all her marketing knowledge and know-how to force the hand of the people above her to make decisions in Sun-woo’s favor.
Then there’s the general director of the NASA space station Moon-young, played by Kim Hee-ae. She delivers the messianic speech that moved everyone, making her the ultimate hero on Earth.
“The Moon” is not just about a space mission. It’s about a journey of forgiveness, kindness, and finding humanity in space and on Earth.