The disaster movie sub genre is one that is undeniably dominated by Roland Emmerich (2012, Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow). An end of the world flick can be a great time at the multiplex. Unfortunately, ‘Moonfall‘ is not one of those movies.
Led by a committed trio, Halle Berry, Patrick Wilson, and John Bradley, ‘Moonfall’ centers around Berry’s character Jo Forwl, Wilson’s Brian Harper, and Bradley’s KC Houseman as they team up to save the world after an unknown force knocks the moo out of orbit and sends it hurtling towards Earth.
The crucial element one needs in order to attempt to enjoy ‘Moonfall’ is the ability to turn off your brain and leave all logic at the theater door. On many occasions this is a task I have been able to do and the result is usually a really enjoyable time. After about 30 minutes I knew that the latest Emmerich doomsday flick was going to test my will to suspend disbelief for an entire 2 hours. This quickly becomes an experience you don’t laugh with, instead, you spend much of the runtime laughing AT it.
As I mentioned, the leading trio commits to every outlandish piece of dialogue and attempts to sell every wild plot device. There were several lines throughout that made me involuntarily roll my eyes and loose faith in the level of entertainment factor this adventure had to offer.
There are numerous plot points that are introduced throughout that expect the audience to buy certain things that play out only to resolve in a very shallow way. One that stands out amongst the crowd is the relationship between Brian and his son, Sonny (Charlie Plummer). As the conflict escalates, the film begins to lean more and more on the father son relationship. Unfortunately, there’s absolutely nothing for audiences to latch onto. Brian spends the first chunk of the film attempting to get Sonny out of a situation and each time his desire to do this is brought into question his response is always something to the effect of, “He’s my son”. It’s very apparent that Brian loves his son a great deal but as far as the audiences’ knowledge of this relationship goes, it all hinges on a brief flashback towards the beginning of the movie. As the plot progresses, the relationship continues to stay at surface level. No interest is shown in adding any sort of substance to this dynamic. This is just the tip of the iceberg. I will spare you the details of the other subplots because if I were to dive into them, this review would turn into a novel.
The character who gets the most substance is actually John Bradley’s KC Houseman. At first he comes across as the character audiences were going to laugh at but as you learn a bit more about him there was something likable about him. You still laugh at this character but when he’s visiting his mother, who’s battling dementia, you see a side more human side of him the other characters are lacking. He eventually becomes the character you root for the most.
Of course going into something like this, one would expect large scale, CGI destruction and while it is certainly prevalent, it isn’t exciting to look at. On multiple occasions, despite a budget of $140 million, the scenes look dated and cheap. It’s okay to take a premise like this and ask audiences to suspend disbelief in order to watch a film like Moonfall but at the very least, the visuals need to have a certain flare to keep audiences engaged.
As the moon gets closer and closer to Earth, the team encounters the force that is causing this disaster to happen and any ounce of hope one still had in this doomsday flick is diminished. The twist revealed drags this already disappointing adventure down even more. The biggest eye roll of all was the attempt to turn this B movie into an intellectual Sci-fi film with its introduction of aliens and an artificial intelligence element. I couldn’t help but audibly laugh out loud when the whole explanation as to why this is happening.
Verdict: Moonfall has a committed cast and a promising end of the world story but a thin script, underwhelming visuals, and an awful third act twist made this a lifeless and forgettable movie.