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Moonfall (A Movie Review)

Updated: Jul 18, 2023


Starring Halle Berry, Patrick Wilson, John Bradley, Michael Peña, Charlie Plummer, Kelly Yu, Eme Ikwuakor, Carolina Bartczak, Maxim Roy, Stephen Bogaert, Azriel Dalman, Kelly Reilly, Zayn Maloney, Ava Weiss, Hazel Nugent, Chris Sandiford, Jonathan Maxwell Silver, Ryan Bommarito, Kathleen Fee, Frank Schorpion and Donald Sutherland.

Screenplay by Roland Emmerich & Harald Kloser & Spenser Cohen.

Directed by Roland Emmerich.

Distributed by Lionsgate. 120 minutes. Rated PG-13.

With Moonfall, Roland Emmerich has essentially remade the same movie at least five or six times now.

Oh sure, there are little variations on plot and how batshit crazy everything gets, but basically, it’s all the same. Rampant and random widescale violence and destruction, flying debris and trucks and boats, people running and hiding, insane scientific explanations for the havoc, fireballs flying from the skies, entire cities reduced to rubble, and for the money shot, the destruction of a major historical landmark. (Spoiler alert: for this film it’s the Chrysler Building in New York.)

I remember the good old days when the disasters in disaster films were somewhat limited in scope. A boat is capsized, or a building catches fire, or an airplane has crashed. Even when it was more widespread, it was still limited to a set area – a city is nearly destroyed by an earthquake, or a tropical island is overrun by the lava flow from a local volcano.

Roland Emmerich doesn’t believe in that smalltime stuff. As I said in a review of one of his earlier films – The Day After Tomorrow – Emmerich is more into the fire and brimstone school of disaster films. He doesn’t limit himself to a single building or cruise ship or even city. He’s going after the whole shebang – the wholesale destruction of the entire Earth. (This one also takes on the moon.)

Which doesn’t mean that the total mayhem can’t sometimes be fun, if a little overwhelming, as long as you don’t think too much about the story.

Because the story is willfully stupid and not just a bit bonkers – it feels like it may have been hatched in a QAnon chat room. In Moonfall, the moon (which may or may not be a death star type super spaceship) is attacked by a giant AI creature, which throws it out of its orbit. The moon is quickly hurtling towards Earth, and the fact that the moon is out of orbit is already causing massive full-scale destruction all over the Earth. And the only people who can save the Earth and return the moon to its normal orbit are two squabbling former astronauts and a conspiracy theorist.

Da fuq?

One thing that is noticeable right away is that Moonfall is definitely put together on the cheap comparatively for an Emmerich project, probably proof that his star has fallen significantly since his glory days of Independence Day and Stargate. Even the cast is a clue – Halle Berry and Patrick Wilson are just fine, but neither is exactly an A-level star at this point in their careers.

And Emmerich’s trademark – the destruction of national monuments – is severely soft pedaled in this film. The destruction of the Chrysler Building is done almost as an afterthought, and there is also a shot which appears to be taking aim at the new World Trade Center, but then the camera just passes it by.

Still, you know what you are getting with a Roland Emmerich film, and Moonfall does deliver some of the extra-sensory overload that is expected. There are some funny parts – some of them are even intentional. So, if you enjoyed 2012, or The Day After Tomorrow, or Godzilla, or Independence Day: Resurgence, chances are good you’ll like Moonfall, too. If you didn’t like those films, chances are pretty good you’ll never get anywhere near Moonfall, anyway.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2022 All rights reserved. Posted: February 4, 2022.


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