'Moonfall' review: Disaster movie is disaster of epic proportions
Courtesy of Lionsgate
Once upon a time, Roland Emmerich was Hollywood’s most bankable director who’s catalog of disaster porn mega-budgeted tent-poles could turn a hefty profit. In the past, his 1996 stunner “Independence Day” held insurmountable box office records that helped tee’d up the likes of “The Day After Tomorrow,” “2012” and “10,000 B.C.” But as audiences' tastes have changed in the theatrical landscape, Emmerich’s star power has seriously dwindled. So perhaps that’s why his newest schlock fest “Moonfall” (great name) feels like a desperate gasp for air. It’s the final nail in the coffin of a director trying to secure financing for his next project or hoping to stay relevant on the big screen. To his credit, Emmerich, who co-wrote the screenplay with Harald Kloser and Spenser Cohen, throws everything at the screen, but you rarely see a movie costing upwards of $150 million look this stinkin’ cheap. There was an era when disaster epics could be good for something other than ear shattering sound effects and eye-popping visuals.
Not that anyone should or would take these movie seriously, that much is true in the opening minutes of “Moonfall” when an astronaut, in the middle of a routine exercise out in space, questions the lyrics in Toto’s song “Africa:” The next scene, a goofball scientist with a cat named Fuzz Aldrin asks the question: “What would Elon do?” You catch my drift? At first, the premise sounds kind of interesting-the moon has somehow been knocked out of orbit and is hurtling towards Earth which causes all types of environmental calamities and destruction-before becoming a tireless, convoluted exercise in the final 45-minutes. Never in all of Emmerich’s filmography has so much exposition been dumped in a shorter time frame. By the time credits started to roll, my brain was absolutely fried.
Stepping up to the plate to try and save us puny humans is former, disgraced astronaut Brian Halper who was dishonorably discharged from NASA 10 years prior for negligence despite his heroism saving partner Jo Fowler (Halle Berry) who is also along for the ride. Meanwhile, a bumbling, only-written-for-piss-poor-comedic-relief conspiracy theorist named KC Houseman (John Bradley of “Game of Thrones” fame), whom already uncovered origins about the moon’s true purpose and tried to sound the alarm before imminent death (he’s the dude with the cat and agonizing Elon Musk obsession) also somehow gets NASA clearance to be apart of Earth’s last defense. Along the way, Emmerich branches off about a hundred different survival subplots including one with Halper’s son (Charlie Plummer), Fowler’s young child and his tutor who, in route to Colorado because apparently when the moon is falling we should all head to Colorado, get chased down by looters as if this was a D-level episode of “The Walking Dead.”
Trying to make sense of these diversions won’t do any good, but even by the already low standards this genre of films set for themselves “Moonfall” is painstakingly dull and not silly enough to be anointed a guilty pleasure. I could sit here and try to explain the mechanics of the moon’s defense system or how the three amigos managed to launch themselves into orbit with little to no electrical system (while doing literal rocket science on the fly) but that would require more logic and thinking than anything the filmmakers cook up here. Instead of laughing at the absurdity of it all, you’ll be miserable for almost two hours.
MOONFALL is now playing in theaters.