Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, 2012, The Day After Tomorrow) is the king of disaster films. His latest disaster film, Moonfall, may be his biggest, boldest, and most bonkers disaster film to date.
The aptly titled film involves the moon being knocked out of orbit, sending it spiraling towards earth. The residents of earth have close to 3 weeks before the moon makes impact. However, as the moon approaches the earth’s orbit, earth begins being destroyed by quakes, volcanic activity, tsunamis, gravity waves (are those even a thing), and humans using this opportunity to be terrible people
Disgraced astronaut Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson), Jo (Halle Berry) and a conspiracy theorist (John Bradley) head to space to fight a mysterious force they believe is causing the moon to fall out of orbit – not knowing their impossible mission to the moon would reveal secrets about the moon and humanity.
Most big disaster films are ridiculous. Moonfall takes that ridiculousness and turns it up a few notches. Just when you think it’s done, it goes up a few more. Underneath the absurdity of the disasters on earth is a story about family and trust. It’s meant to give audiences something/someone to cheer for and people to care about as moon wreaks havoc. Unfortunately, the hollow script is so unintentionally funny it makes it hard to care about any of the supporting characters.
One of the funniest scenes is a car chase through a snowy street as the moon’s gravitational pull destroys a town. It’s literally a commercial for how awesome a Lexus is and how well they perform. The entire sequence will make any physics teacher lose their minds. It’s impossible not to laugh at how outrageous the scene is and it’s not the most outrageous moment in the film.
The most outrageous scene happens when Jo is trying to convince Harper to join the mission. To be clear, Harper is aware that if this mission doesn’t succeed, the earth is destroyed. The earth is down to its final hours. Despite all the insane things he’s witnessed through the course of the film, he says he has more pressing things to deal with on earth. It’s comical…what was Harper going to do? The earth was literally falling apart like a Nature Valley bar.
Previous Emmerich films gave audiences a chance to feel how dire the situation is. There was a slow burn as the chaos ramped up. It allowed audiences to care, even if a little, about what was happening on screen. Because the film jumps from CGI disaster to even bigger CGI disaster scene, it doesn’t allow audiences to feel any of the weight.
Despite all of its nonsensical pseudo-science, Moonfall can be fun. It’s wacky, insane, and unhinged at times. To enjoy it, you’ll have to turn off your brain and enjoy what you’re watching. The appeal of the film isn’t the script or acting. It isn’t some metaphor for global warning or a film with some deeper meaning. The appeal is in it being a mindless spectacle. It’s an insane visual rollercoaster for 130 minutes. If you enjoy that kind of ride, you’ll be in for a treat.