A pair of astronauts (Patrick Wilson, Halle Berry) and conspiracy nerd (John Bradley) race to save the world in Moonfall.
Roland Emmerich, Hollywood’s king of big-budget disaster epics, is back with another gloriously silly and fun “we’re all gonna die” scenario. Moonfall tells the heroic tale of a disgraced astronaut, his former partner, and a nerdy conspiracy theorist saving the world from its crashing satellite. The film is loaded with awesome, state-of-the-art visual effects. Cities crumble dramatically as hapless characters get swept away by insane tidal waves. The plot doesn’t make a lick of sense, but the CGI carnage is pure popcorn cinema goodness.
Moonfall opens in 2011 with astronauts Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson) and Jo Fowler (Halle Berry) leading a shuttle mission to repair a satellite. The operation takes a deadly turn when a mysterious swarm attacks before plummeting into the moon. Howler is knocked unconscious as Harper saves them both. NASA disputes Brian Harper’s recollection of the incident. He’s dismissed while Jo Fowler’s career advances. Harper’s home life crumbles in the aftermath of public humiliation.
A decade later, wannabe NASA scientist and “megastructure” conspiracy buff K.C. Houseman (John Bradley), makes a terrifying discovery. The moon’s orbit is starting to decay. It will break into pieces before smashing into Earth. He tries to warn NASA but is branded as a kook. Houseman reaches out to Brian Harper; who also ignores him until the gravitation shift starts causing global chaos. The unlikely pair and Jo Fowler must overcome their differences in a last-ditch effort to save the planet.
Moonfall hearkens back to seventies disaster classics like the Towering Inferno and Earthquake. A primary cast of mismatched protagonists handles the problem while secondary characters fight to survive. Moonfall has a tedious subplot where Harper’s rebellious son (Charlie Plummer), his stepfather (Michael Peña), and Fowler’s exchange student au pair (Kelly Yu) flee to safety with the family’s children. Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, Godzilla) rehashes a similar storyline from 2012, his previous end-of-times feature. Going back to the well was a bad idea that detracts from the space adventure. I understand the need to show a human compassion element, but it’s melodramatic and utterly predictable.
The moon’s spiraling doom has an interesting culprit. Roland Emmerich never fails to deliver an ass-kicking antagonist. Moonfall’s space sequences are freaking spectacular. The shuttle Endeavor flies into the moon while dodging gigantic chunks of debris. Our fearless saviors also have to contend with constantly changing gravity. What they find looks pretty cool. Emmerich knows how to film grand-scale science fiction. Let’s just say the center of the moon isn’t filled with cheese.
Moonfall is a check your brain at the door experience. It’s the kind of film that you’d normally flock to on a hot summer afternoon. Covid delays land this blockbuster in chilly winter. See this film in the best theater possible. I saw the IMAX version and was not disappointed. Get a tub of buttery popcorn, real sugar soda, overpriced candies, and enjoy the thrill ride. Moonfall is a production of Centropolis Entertainment, Huayi Brothers, Tencent, and AGC Studios. It will be released theatrically on February 4th from Lionsgate.
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