Don’t Fly Me to “The Moon” (더 문) in 2023, Because it’s Dangerous!

Ultimately, The Moon does a better job at recognizing the dangers of space flight given where our current technology is at. We don’t have fancy shields common in futuristic sci-fi yet.

The Moon (2023) Movie Poster - South KoreaWell GO USA
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Yong-hwa Kim‘s The Moon blows Ridley Scott’s The Martian right out of the water because once I got invested in Hwang Sun-woo’s plight through the flashbacks, all I can hope for is that he’ll survive! After a solar storm strikes the spacecraft and kills the pilots, he’s alone! This astrophysicist will have to make moonfall somehow if he’s to survive and Doh Kyung-soo (from South Korean-Chinese boy band Exo) is actually quite good at looking scared, when he attempts the impossible. Not only are the odds are against him at being able to pilot a sophisticated craft, but also get to get rescued is another story altogether.

Although this latest survival story borrows a few familiar elements from films like Gravity, what kept me interested is one particular subplot: Director Kim Jae-guk (Sol Kyung-gu) is back at the Korea Astronomy and Space Centre (KASC) to put help Hwang, and discuss why it’s important to put a man on the moon. However, his motivations are unclear because it’s easy to see he’s haunted by the past. He oversaw the mission which killed Hwang’s father (who was also an astronaut).

Also, there’s his relationship with his ex-wife, but to understand that backstory better flashbacks to explain what happened.

Yoon Moon-young at NASA

She now works at NASA, and Yoon Moon-young’s (Kim Hee-ae) animosity can be felt miles away. On the screen, I could see the daggers marking her eye pupils. This actress is excellent in this role, and anyone who looks at her IMDB profile will find she’s won many performance awards.

As much as I loved her semper-fi through her workplace, there were times I wondered whose story was more important. Thankfully, it gets easier to tell by the second act. It’s about Hwang promising to achieve what his pops could not. While some people would have nothing to do of fulfilling a parent’s last wish (this individual died during space flight; the rocket exploded), he’s determined to honour not only his family but also represent South Korea well on the world stage.

However, to get accepted into the program meant earning his wings elsewhere before the Korea Aerospace Research Institute’s directors could consider taking him in. They would want to do a complete psychological examination to make sure he’s not damaged goods. What he reveals is a sense of pride to make his country proud.

This patriotism is quite strong throughout certain parts of the movie, and it doesn’t bother me at all. Instead, it factors into a message about why we must forget about cultural boundaries–which this narrative successfully imparts by the film’s end. To reveal the full details would be a major spoiler. Therefore, All I can say is that when the Prime Minister (Jo Han-chul) pleads to other nations for help to rescue Hwang, I’m not at all surprised at his act. He’s comic relief for this film, and it’s distracting.

The Prime Minster isn't all That Prime

Although I find Yong-hwa Kim’s movie unusual, I was still enjoying his work every single moment. For example, it doesn’t recognize the institutes that truly define South Korea’s Space Program. Also, NASA is turned into a minor villain and thankfully, such is not the case in our reality. It made me consider the possibility this film is an allegory for the animosity between North and South Korea under the lens of an ongoing Civil War–be it American or within its own nation. Maybe the higher ups in this space administration think Yoon is a Communist / North Korean instead of asking where her allegiances are.

Elsewhere, the International Space Station is known as the Lunar Gateway. It hovers somewhere beyond the Earth and the Moon. While its importance and who works here is pivotal to understanding this film’s underlying message, its appearance isn’t until much later. And as for why Yoon is important, that’s because she has to remember where she came from to get to where she is. It’s a subplot that I particularly loved over all others.

Overall, I was pleased with the story design that does more than to be another blockbuster style movie reminiscent of Michael Bay’s Armageddon. Although the CGI and green screening isn’t as refined as an American film, I was still glued at the fever pitch being built up to Hwang’s eventual rescue.

Ultimately, The Moon does a better job at recognizing the dangers of space flight given where our current technology is at. We don’t have fancy shields common in futuristic sci-fi yet. Instead, what humanity has now can help dodge the bullet. Also, nobody wants to be left behind; and as for why this intrepid hero doesn’t have PTSD, I guess what he learned as a SEAL is enough to turn him into a true survivor through and through.

4 Stars out of 5

The Moon International Trailer


Author: Ed Sum

I'm a freelance videographer and entertainment journalist (Absolute Underground Magazine, Two Hungry Blokes, and Otaku no Culture) with a wide range of interests. From archaeology to popular culture to paranormal studies, there's no stone unturned. Digging for the past and embracing "The Future" is my mantra.

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