Director: Roland Emmerich
Writers: Roland Emmerich, Harald Kloser, and Spenser Cohen
Starring: Halle Berry, Patrick Wilson, John Bradley, Michael Pena, Charlie Plummer, Kelly Yu, and Donald Sutherland
Review: Roland Emmerich made headlines earlier this week when he said that he believes Marvel and Star Wars movies are ruining cinema. Well, in my opinion, that’s pretty big talk for the man responsible for inflicting Moonfall onto the world, a movie about the moon being a spaceship. Because even the worst of those movies is at least twice as smart and entertaining as this piece of garbage.
Let’s start off by taking a look at the plot. And, unlike most of my reviews, this is going to go heavy into spoiler territory. I don’t even care to be honest. No one should have to sit through this shit. But, if you do not want spoilers, skip to the next paragraph. I’ll keep it spoiler-free from there. Anywho, Moonfall starts with a fairly simple, yet already absurd premise. The moon has changed orbits and is going to crash into Earth. Already pretty dumb, right? Don’t worry it gets worse, because we then learn that the moon is fake. Not the moon landing. The whole damn moon. Apparently, NASA has known about it since the 1960s and everyone from Neil Armstrong on has just kept it secret. How? Why? No clue. Oh, and there’s this nanobots-looking robot that has been killing astronauts who try to explore the moon’s surface to try to figure out what’s going on. What is that robot doing there? Now here’s where we get really bonkers and really, really spoiler-heavy. Apparently, billions of years ago, there were humans in a far-off galaxy. They were a super-advanced, peaceful society that left all of the decision-making to a benevolent artificial intelligence. Of course, this being science fiction, the artificial intelligence turned evil and started destroying humanity. The remaining humans fled in space stations, looking to create a suitable planet to live on. So, they CREATED OUR GALAXY, started life on Earth, and then had, I guess, another, nicer artificial intelligence (whose design totally rips off Contact btw) watch over the humans from the station, disguised as a moon. The nanobots were the evil robots who have since found the base and are trying to destroy it, with the final act being our heroes getting involved in this billions of years-long war. Yes, that’s literally the plot of a big studio movie showing in theaters. Not on Syfy. In theaters. From Paramount Studios. Are you kidding me? Roland Emmerich must’ve literally heard Obi-Wan’s line of “That’s no moon. That’s a space station.” and was like, “Huh, what if our moon was a space station?” Then, made up all of this bullshit to fill in the gaps. Seriously, this has to be one of THE dumbest movies I’ve ever seen.
But, here’s the worst part: it’s not even fun. If you’re going to be a big dumb, end-of-the-world, science fiction movie, you should at least be fun. Moonfall is boring as hell. There’s no tongue-in-cheek nature to it. No one is winking at the camera. It’s totally serious. This is really disappointing, because Emmerich’s best work, Independence Day, totally knew what kind of movie it was. And that premise is waaaaaaay more believable. But, I get it. Not every movie is supposed to be funny (although most dumb ones are). So, is it compelling in any way? Nope. None of these characters are worth becoming attached to. They have a very tell, don’t show approach to their backstories, often throwing in exposition to try to get us to feel something, anything. However, it doesn’t really work. By the time the final act rolled around, I barely cared who lived and who died. And these are likable, good, charismatic actors, who have stolen hearts with much smaller screentime so it’s gotta be on the writing.
Then, finally, there are the special effects. If you can usually count on one thing from an Emmerich film, it’s good special effects. Well… except for Moonfall apparently. Because these look horrendous. First of all, everything looks cheap. Like, again, Syfy movie or The Asylum cheap. But, perhaps most damningly, I never once believed even for a second that the actors were in the same space as the shit going on around them. We follow characters making their way through the country as the Earth is being destroyed. However, not only does it look like they’re in front of a green screen the entire time, but they also are barely reacting to what’s happening on that green screen. They often will be having a super chill, mostly peaceful conversation while meteors destroy everything around them. Or, they will just start unloading an old folks’ home with minimum urgency as if the problem is days away, while, just outside their window, a tidal wave is knocking over every other building in the city. Was the damage not supposed to be that bad originally? Was it supposed to be a slow buildup when they shot the actors’ scenes? Then, when it came to special effects time, they ramped everything up to eleven even when it made no sense in the context of the scenes? Because that’s exactly how it felt. I’ve never witnessed an apocalyptic movie with stakes that felt so small. Why was nobody panicking?
Honestly, I could go on and on about the stuff I found infuriating about Moonfall. But, the movie doesn’t deserve any more of my time… or yours, to be frank. The danger about me going on and on like this is that someone out there will think this is a “so bad, its good” kind of movie and seek it out. Or that they’ll want to see if I’m over exaggerating. Please don’t. For your own good. I checked it out for very similar reasons and regret it immensely. Like I said before, this isn’t a fun watch. There’s almost nothing redeeming about it, other than maybe the fact that they definitely shot for the moon. Unfortunately, they didn’t land among the stars in this case either.
TL;DR: Moonfall doesn’t even have enough decency to be entertaining while being one of the absolute dumbest movies I’ve ever seen.
Score: 2/10 (Painful)