In Moonfall, a mysterious force knocks the Moon from its orbit around Earth and sends it hurdling on a collision course with life as we know it. With mere weeks before impact and the world on the brink of annihilation, NASA executive and former astronaut Jo Fowler is convinced she has the key to saving us all – but only one astronaut from her past, Brian Harper and a conspiracy theorist K.C. Houseman believe her. These unlikely heroes will mount an impossible last-ditch mission into space, leaving behind everyone they love, only to find that they might have prepared for the wrong mission.
When the name Rolland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012) is in the headlines, it used to be an indicator that a wild, loud, but fun film was on the horizon. Now that seems furthest from the truth. The king of world-ending disaster movies is back with another outlandish blockbuster film, and it seems as if each new film he directs is now getting worse and worse with his age. This time around the moon is out of orbit and on a crash collision course with our planet earth. That alone sounds fascinating, and such a premise is a great reason to go to the theater with the escapism aspect of it all. The problem here is this film not only fails at that, but also fumbled on the simple basics. Like applying common sense for problem resolution, providing likeable characters, or images that are visually appealing. These are usually things that aren’t an issue for the seasoned director, but this time it was a missed opportunity and a lack of concentration and focus overall.
Whether you thought Emmerich’s past films made plausible sense or not, at the very least you could sit back in a theater and witness some of the best CGI effects in Hollywood. Seeing an alien invasion, the earth’s crust shift, or the entire world frozen over in ice provides a multitude of possibilities that can be displayed on film. So that was a minimum expectation going into Moonfall. However, it is a mystery how the $150 million production budget was spent because it couldn’t be on the effects. When there were opportunities to show cities flooded with water from high tides nothing about it looked real. It all appeared to be shot as a miniature set, and that’s never anything an audience member should be able to notice. This same procedure was executed with laser precision during his 2012 film, but now it appears the director didn’t have the same amount of resources. So unlike the past, seeing the world fall into chaos (with this time around having space itself as a central character) with great visuals was absent throughout the entire film this time around.
Another failed attempt was creating competent characters that the audience could attach to and root for. In Independence Day Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith) and Jasmine (Vivica Fox) felt like family. When the bomb went off in space towards the end I was sincerely concerned about their survival (Steven & David (Jeff Goldblum)). Even in 2012 when the Russian father sacrificed himself to save his children, he wasn’t the most respected character but in the end, he showed so much love and humanity within himself that’s notable. There was nothing remotely close to this level of detail in Moonfall. Now the addition of Halle Berry and Patrick Wilson were fine, but that’s just it. It was just fine. It’s scary to think how this film would’ve turned out if they weren’t present. The rest of the supporting cast were either annoying, cliché, or had below-par acting abilities. No one is asking for super athletes that are experienced and know what to do in every dangerous situation, but simple maneuvers such as moving out of the way instead of being washed away as a still victim would’ve been appreciated.
The only saving grace in the film is it does keep you interested. Just the thought of how a moon could crash into a planet will always beg the question of how is this even possible and why. This mysterious question is answered towards the end of the film, but it’s the most rushed exposition dump in cinematic history. There’s no payoff whatsoever unfortunately. Imagine someone combining all of the lore of The Lord of the Rings franchise and Stars Wars then condensing it down into thirty seconds of plot. Not only is that enough for another movie in itself, but you could create a whole other series as large as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Simply put, this is lazy, and it’s seems as if this plot was rushed in at the last minute.
Then there are still lingering questions that are never answered or addressed within the film. With the plot changing every five minutes, you may walk out more confused than when you walked in. At one point it’s revealed that the government knew about certain anomalies decades in the past, but we never find out why they didn’t prepare or share the information due to an obvious future confrontation. In addition to that, it’s clear you have to suspend your disbelief to enjoy such a film, but even basic science is ignored in this film. There’s always a solution to the current problems at the time out of nowhere, which causes no stakes in the film and the notion that everyone will survive and be ok. Even when characters do perish, it doesn’t matter because you didn’t care about them in the first place.
This is by far Rolland Emmerich’s worst film to date. It is unclear what has happened in the writing or editing room, but something is broken and needs to be fixed immediately. This could’ve easily been remembered as another great world disaster film with nostalgic factors to last for years, but now will be just a blog in time that wasted space in the latest theatrical run. It’s a shame because all of the mishaps in this film were done quite well in past Emmerich films, but this time around not only did he have a bad day at the office, he got the entire studio sick and incapable of creating anything sensical or worthwhile.