REVIEW – “Moonfall”

In terms of disaster films, it’s hard to dispute that the godfather of the genre is Roland Emmerich. From Independence Day to 2012 to Godzilla to The Day After Tomorrow, the man simply knows how to give our planet a run for its money. In what might somehow be his most preposterous film yet, Moonfall begins with a mysterious force knocking the Moon from its orbit around Earth and sends it hurdling on a collision course. With only a few weeks before the moon is set for impact on our planet, NASA executive and former astronaut Jo Fowler (Halle Berry) is convinced she has the key to saving us all – but only one astronaut from her past, Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson) and a conspiracy theorist K.C. (John Bradley) believe her. The three go on a mission to try and not only save our planet from destruction but to solve the mystery behind what the moon truly is.

Films like Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow largely work, in my eyes, because of their overall simplicity. Yes, there are overarching stories in both and large ensembles giving them inflated screen time – but at the end of the day, those are Emmerich’s best films because they know exactly the type of popcorn-entertainment that they are and embrace the straight-forward nature that works best with this genre. Moonfall completely abandons this ideology of simplicity and tries to create something with a heftier story that.. might be trying to say something about the world’s obsession with conspiracy theory culture? However, it is so bogged down by absolutely terrible visual effects, a needlessly convoluted and bloated story, and the most offensively stupid and boring characters you have seen in a hot minute that it truly doesn’t matter what it might be trying to say.

Like most Emmerich films, Moonfall features a truly large ensemble cast that all have merging subplots with one-another. While there are some notable names in the cast like Michael Pena or Halle Berry, there aren’t too many people who standout. Granted, the material isn’t very good to begin with and even Oscar nominated actors could make this dialogue sound believable – but it’s almost astonishing how almost no-one seems to be having any fun while on-screen. There are only two actors I can compliment for leaning into the material that they’re given, one of which is the always reliable Patrick Wilson, who is so unbelievably above this but fills the role of disgruntled scientist who proves to everyone he can save the day and that he was right all along beautifully. The other is John Bradley, who is really the only actor here as equally silly as everything going on around him. Genuine props for stealing every scene he’s in!

All of the holes in the screenplay and shoddiness of the visual effects department could possibly be overlooked if the film was simply fun, but clocking in at over 120 minutes, the film overstays its welcome and then some – becoming simply a chore to sit through. I was never once engaged with the action or the journey of the characters the way I feel like I should be when it comes to the disaster genre. Half of what makes Independence Day so good isn’t the destruction but how entertaining it is to watch these characters respond to each other and the situation happening around them. Moonfall isn’t necessarily Emmerich’s worst outing, but it feels like his most tame in terms of scale and boring in terms of character.


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