The concept of Moonfall, director Roland Emmerich’s latest disaster, earth destroying flick isn’t new, in fact this is the director’s 6th disaster film released over his divisive career. Most of them are forgettable, I don’t even want to get into Independence Day: Resurgence or 2012 but the one similar characteristic they all share is the mindless cheesy fun you can have while watching the destruction of the earth as the a-list stars attached fully commit to saving the population from some kind of alien invasion. Emmerich fills Moonfall with conspiracy theory, a lack of any scientific merit and the same played out plot structure used in every other disaster movie he’s done previous.
All that said, between the scoffs of the corniest written dialogue of one-liners to make you wish you were anywhere else in the world, Moonfall is visually pretty to look at. It’s probably the best element in the film. Emmerich doesn’t waste any time showcasing the films biggest strength either. After a lengthy debate about the lyrics to “Africa” by Toto, an alien entity destroys the Space shuttle mission, killing one astronaut. Jocinda “Jo” Fowler (Halle Berry) is knocked out leaving Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson) to safely return the shuttle to Earth and taking the blame and losing all credibility in the process.
Leave it to the people of earth to completely destroy someone’s esteemed reputation. Who said a work wife couldn’t have your back, right?
Fast forward to present day where conspiracy theorist K.C. Houseman (John Bradley) discovers that the Moon is out of orbit and will soon destroy the earth if nothing is done. With no one believing in him, K.C. leaks the information to social media throwing the world into complete chaos and panic. I would have preferred this to Don’t Look Up if Don’t Look Up wasn’t complete lunacy as well.
Leave it to the talented ensemble cast to fully commit to their roles and the absurd story Roland Emmerich crafts. To avoid not getting into spoilers, the first half of Moonfall is 1000% different from the second half of Moonfall. The first half is a typical disaster film – completely predicable. Something alien will destroy the Earth, give unqualified people control who don’t think about the long-term ramifications access to nuclear weapons behind safety glass while the ones qualified put their lives at risk on the front line in near death situations. It’s been the same since Independence Day just with no Bill Pullman speech. Moonfall needed an inspirational type of speech. Tisk tisk.
If you’ve been living under a rock the past decade, John Bradley, who plays Samwell Tarly on Game of Thrones, out preforms both Patrick Wilson and Halle Berry. His character provides the heart and soul, as well as the comic relief needed to enjoy any moment this film has to offer. But even more so than what Bradley provides is his cat Fuzz Aldrin, uncontrollable giggles will come at the sight of Fuzz and the mere mention of his name. Fuzz is Moonfall’s real hero, not the astronauts Wilson and Berry portray.
Beyond the three stars, Moonfall attempts and fails epically at establishing any of the supporting characters that may be friends or family. And they’re big names too – Donald Sutherland plays a former NASA agent involved in an Apollo 11 coverup; Michael Peña plays a duchy stepfather whose redemption doesn’t matter in the long run, and Charlie Plummer plays Brian’s degenerate son who is given some depth and a good arc when all is said, and the Moon isn’t destroying Earth anymore because of his father’s sacrifice.
Moonfall is a head-scratcher, a mess disguised as a thought-provoking conspiracy theorists wet dream. I would love to see what Emmerich would do with the JFK theory. Maybe it was aliens who invaded Lee Harvey Oswald. It writes itself basically. Way too long for a disaster film that misses the target where the shooter is feet away. Hard to believe this is the same director who gifted us all with The Patriot.
2022 starts off with a bang, a box office bomb in its infant second month. Maybe my money should have been better spent seeing Jackass Forever (I was never a fan of the series) over this audacious tragedy. The return to cinemas is well underway thanks to No Way Home but still, we can all use a little laughter and head-shaking in our lives.
The moon is the real victim here, what did the moon ever do to you Roland Emmerich. It’s not your fault moon, it’s not your fault.
Regardless of the mess of Moonfall, it’s still mindless escapist entertainment at its finest. If there is one thing, I’m certain of with Moonfall, there is no shortage of fun to be had amidst the absurd nature of the concept. Emmerich throws away any sort of logical, common sense and scientific merit as if it was his only option to tell a decent story. Everything is made up and nothing matters, but leave it to the talented, underutilized ensemble to fully commit to tonal nightmare of a film. Despite its many shortcomings, Moonfall will still provide some style, just have to forgive most of the substance. I will forever Stan Fuzz Aldrin and follow him to end of time.
Written By: Roland Emmerich, Harold Kloser & Spenser Cohen
Directed By: Roland Emmerich
Music By: Thomas Wander & Harold Kloser
Cinematography: Robby Baumgartner
Starring: Halle Berry, Patrick Wilson, John Bradley, Michael Pena, Charlie Plummer, Kelly Yu, Donald Sutherland
Release Date: February 4, 2022
Running Time: 2 Hours 10 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 41%
My Score: 1 out of 5