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MOVIES: Moonfall - Review

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If you want your films to be dumb, stupid fun, Moonfall is sadly not the film for you – it takes itself far too seriously to be dump stupid fun, and as a result, just feels dumb and stupid. It’s insanely stupid without any of the fun attached that requires it to work. A character unironically asks the question: “what would Elon Musk do?” and the whole film feels like a love-in to the conspiracy theorists and Musk’s brand. Patrick Wilson and Halle Berry on their own can’t save this film, though they try – their charisma is among the best things here and they eat up the screentime they have together, with Wilson continuing to give his absolute most to every role he’s in regardless of what role that is – the performance as an astronaut whose ship was wrecked by an alien attack whilst on a lunar mission finds his reputation discredited upon his return to Earth – is now needed when the same alien drags the Moon out of orbit and sends it hurtling towards the Earth prompting quick, successive changes to the planet’s atmosphere and waves.

The film has moments of spark – iy keeps threatening to go full Independence Day, with Roland Emmerich retreading past disaster films that he’s had plenty of experience in. This is not new territory to him – this multi-million-dollar movie is technically an independent film as it turns out, but it has all the tropes of a lazy Hollywood blockbuster – practically interchangeable. Its cast are promising on paper but largely wasted in stereotypical roles – Wilson’s Brian Harper finds himself competing for the affection of his divorced wife with Michael Pena’s Tom Lopez – an arrogant, cocky businessman – it’s the bog standard Hollywood tropes that substitute character depth with stereotypical A-to-B plotting that ultimately goes nowhere.

Moonfall feels like a movie of two halves and much of it is clogged up with exposition. The third act is where the movie dares to have some fun, but it spends too much time setting up any potential future instalments whilst justifying its need for existence. It never remembers to have fun – and the moments of space combat are all too brief, and the stakes all too hollow – you know from the word go what’s going to happen. It would be okay if the film felt like a fun time – but none of that is achieved here – its self-seriousness hurts it, and it doesn’t help that both Doctor Who and Star Trek have done similar variations on plots here – with both the second season of Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek Beyond having similar villains, and Kill the Moon having a similar plot to Moonfall in Series 8 – a much maligned episode, I’ll give you that – but I would take anything in that over what we got here. At least both the Treks and Who dare to have fun, and the lack thereof kills another potential original film before it can truly find its footing.

Roland Emmerich has catered a film for the conspiracy theorists – John Bradley’s K.C. Houseman plays one who is consistently told to make people who never listen to him listen to him. Alarming at best – Bradley’s charm is funnelled into being a drive for much of the film’s exposition and narrative, spending much of the movie pointing out things that the writers thought were cool in case you weren’t convinced before. His cat – hilariously named Fuzz Aldrin, gets one of the rare moments of humour right – but it’s few and far between in a film that never feels truly organic. The best of it comes from the actors who know exactly what movie they're in, but unfortunately - not all of them do.

I was never expecting high art from a Roland Emmerich film, of all people – but something fun wouldn’t have gone amiss – it’s just a shame we never got the heights of Independence Day recreated here, wouldn’t that have been grand? If there's one positive to take out of it - at least it's not Independence Day: Resurgence.

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