We’ve seen movies like Moonfall a million times before, especially from director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow) himself. A small crew of scientists doing the ‘science thing’ to save the world while we cut to their families trying to survive the catastrophe as it unfolds on, in, or around the Earth. And while this is just another over-the-top, end-of-the-world, sci-fi catastrophe movie with an overabundance of CGI destruction and a ridiculous plot filled with plot holes…I still kind of loved it.
After a mission working on a satellite goes terribly wrong in 2011, astronaut Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson) who reports having a mysterious and unexplainable encounter during the mission, is fired from NASA resulting in his life taking a downward spiral. His astronaut colleague Jocinda “Jo” Fowler (Halle Berry) who was also on that mission, goes on to have a successful career and by 2021 is now the Deputy Director of NASA.
When conspiracy theorist KC Houseman (John Bradley) – who believes the Moon is an artificial megastructure – discovers the Moon’s orbit has shifted and is getting closer to Earth, he shares his findings with the world via social media after Harper disregards his findings.
With the world turning to chaos with the gravitational effects from the approaching Moon wreaking havoc on the environment and the looting from a population that is aware of its impending doom, Harper and Houseman are soon recruited by Fowler in order to come up with a plan to save the world. But as they carry out their mission to put the moon back into orbit, they discover that there is more to the danger than they originally realized.
If you’ve ever seen Independence Day, 2012, The Day After Tomorrow, or pretty much anything that Roland Emmerich has ever been involved with, you know what you’re in for. Moonfall isn’t going to win any Oscars for anything, however the performances across the board are what you expect for this style of movie.
Halle Berry is perfectly cast as Deputy Director Jocinda “Jo” Fowler who steps up to lead a mission to save the world when the powers that be fail to do so. She reminds me very much of Ellen Ripley from Aliens although the role of Fowler isn’t as well written or directed. Like Ripley, Fowler is one of the strongest characters in the story, not because she is physically the strongest or because she is the best fighter – but because she is a leader and is willing to do whatever it takes to save the ones she loves. Despite the risks, she steps up and makes the decisions when others around her are incapable of doing so.
Patrick Wilson also delivers the goods as Brian Harper, a disgraced astronaut whose unique ability to pilot a spacecraft without the aid of electronics makes him a valuable component of the team that’s going to save the world. Harper is a bit jaded after having his life turn to crap after that fateful mission in 2011, however just like Fowler, Harper is also a parent and he will go above and beyond in order to save the world and in doing so, save his son Sonny (Charlie Plummer).
Finally it wouldn’t be a complete team without the comic relief and uber nerd of the team, KC Houseman who is perfectly played by John Bradley. I have to admit I wasn’t really sold on his casting when I saw the trailer for Moonfall (it’s hard not to see him as Samwell Tarly from Game of Thrones). But it wasn’t long into the film where my initial thoughts were changed as he brings a lot of heart to the role as well as comic relief that nicely offsets the overwhelming amount of CGI destruction and ridiculous action of the film.
Director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, 2012) – also co-writer with Harold Kloser and Spenser Cohen (both also known for cinematic spectacle) – has once again delivered an over-the-top, sci-fi, CGI extravaganza, catastrophe blockbuster worth watching on the big screen. Yes, the story is predictable and unrealistic, the acting is grade A cheese, and the CGI overdone – but that’s why I go to watch this type of movie.
I’m not looking for realism. I’m not looking for Shakespeare or The Shawshank Redemption. I want to see crazy, big, action sequences and unrealistic, unbelievable images with obstacles that should destroy our heroes in a heartbeat yet are overcome with questionable plans and provide an ending that makes you feel good. Moonfall has all of this in spades and Emmerich has done his job well.
Moonfall has no substance, but it’s entertaining as hell. Those looking for real drama or a serious connection with the characters will be sorely disappointed. But for the rest of us who just want to be entertained with a popcorn flick that’s a visual spectacle, where the world gets effed up and our heroes take on the bleakest of odds against an alien threat – then this is the perfect excuse to go and grab some popcorn and go to the big screen.