An alien intelligence causes the moon to fall from Earth's
orbit, and only a ragtag team of astronauts can save the planet.
Directed by Roland Emmerich
Written by Roland Emmerich, Harald Kloser, Spenser Cohen
Starring Patrick Wilson, Halle Berry, John Bradley,
Charlie Plummer, Michael Peña, Carolina Bartczak,
Eme Ikwuakor, Donald Sutherland
I had such low expectations with Moonfall, which is probably why I liked it so much. Roland Emmerich's career has consisted mostly of destroying the planet and its various landmarks with films like Independence Day, 2012, Godzilla, and The Day After Tomorrow. He also directed The Patriot, which isn't relevant to this review but worth mentioning. It's a great movie. Anyway, Moonfall is more of the same shtick, but also wildly inventive with its use of alien A.I. and hollow moon conspiracies. I don't like that it gives credence to these tin-foil hat wackadoodles, but ultimately the film is not to be taken all that seriously.
After a strange alien life form botches a space mission and claims a friend's life, astronaut Brian Harper (Wilson) is discharged in disgrace and nobody believes him. But when psuedo-scientist KC Houseman (Bradley) discovers the moon is out of orbit, Harper and his old partner Jo Fowler (Berry) become mankind's only hope to stop this alien creature and save the planet. Along the way, they learn the moon's true nature and how significant it is to the future of the human race, whose origins are far crazier than anyone ever expected. I'm not saying this movie is a masterpiece, but its premise is so insane that you can't help but be intrigued.
While the global destruction is considerably scaled down compared to his previous work, Moonfall remains a big screen spectacle that I think most people would enjoy. There are some moments of genuine emotion that resonate, and while the character development isn't great, it's enough that you grow to care about our heroes. What more could you ask for from disaster porn?
Roland Emmerich has made a career off of disaster films. You know the ones. Paper thin characters we care about just enough, world ending catastrophe based somewhat in real world science, and large-scale destruction. His films have commonly been referred to as disaster porn. And, while they aren’t going to be winning any awards, they consistently proved to be a fun way to turn your brain and just have a good time. But something bad happened. Something which, after seeing this new movie, appears to not have gone away. The bad thing I’m speaking of is Independence Day: Resurgence. A film which took the paper thin characters and made them forgettable, obviously forgoes science, and had pretty lackluster destruction. Things which can also be applied to his latest, Moonfall.
Let’s start with the characters. Outside of the core trio, everyone else is instantly forgettable. Characters are introduced just to disappear for the rest of the film. In some cases, they just die and its barely lingered on to register. Seriously, this film also has a horrendous editing job done to it. Several scenes are just quickly jumped to without any time to let the audience process what they just witnessed. This happens a lot during death scenes which causes them to feel hollow. This could have been easily solved if Emmerich wasn’t trying to cram so much into one film. But cram he does because he didn’t learn his lesson from the abovementioned prior film and attempts to leave things open for two more sequels following a truly out there ending. This isn’t a spoiler thanks to the trailers, but this isn’t based off scientific evidence of the moon losing its orbit, it’s aliens. And the reveal of what exactly is going on is truly one of the most batshit crazy explanations I’ve seen. I don’t mean this in a good way. Well, you’re probably hoping Emmerich’s signature destruction would be this film’s saving grace. Think again as this is some of the worst and most boring I’ve witnessed him commit to film.
Moonfall makes it abundantly clear Emmerich hasn’t let go of his ideas he didn’t get to do after the failure of Resurgence. Even though he has claimed otherwise. Other than good performances from our three leads, this is a film with incredibly forgettable characters, an out there reveal which doesn’t work, and terrible destruction. Based off this film and his recent Marvel comments, starting to wonder how long Emmerich has left in the business.