28th Apr2022

‘Moonfall’ Blu-ray Review

by Matthew Turner

Stars: Halle Berry, Patrick Wilson, John Bradley, Michael Peña, Charlie Plummer, Kelly Yu, Donald Sutherland | Written by Roland Emmerich, Harald Kloser, Spenser Cohen | Directed by Roland Emmerich

[NOTE: With the film now out on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital, here’s a reposting of our Moonfall review from earlier this year]

Sometimes, all you want to do is watch a gleefully dumb sci-fi action-slash-disaster movie about the Moon getting knocked off its orbit and falling towards the Earth. Fortunately, director Roland Emmerich (The Day After Tomorrow, 2012) has you covered – he’s built a career out of catering to exactly that need and his latest film, Moonfall, is comfortably his most ridiculous film to date.

The film begins with a 2011-set prologue, in which astronauts Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson) and Jocinda Fowler (Halle Berry) experience a strange outer space encounter that kills their colleague while on a routine mission in orbit around the Moon. Back on Earth, nobody believes Brian (Jocinda was conveniently unconscious) and he’s blamed for the incident, eventually leaving NASA in disgrace, despite having safely landed their shuttle back on Earth without power afterwards.

Flash forward to the present day, where Brian is now a divorced loser taking public speaking gigs and Jocinda is the Assistant Director of NASA. They’re both thrown together again when conspiracy theorist K.C. Houseman (Game of Throne’s John Bradley) discovers that the Moon has been knocked off its orbit and is on a destruction course with Earth.

With time rapidly running out and the Earth already experiencing widespread catastrophe, Brian, Jocinda and K.C. head into space on a last-ditch mission to save the Earth, with military types (including Jocinda’s ex-husband) prepared to nuke the Moon if they don’t succeed. Meanwhile, Brian and Jocinda’s assorted children and relatives head to Alaska for safety, intending to shelter in a top secret Deep Impact-style military bunker.

The 2011 prologue features the astronauts being attacked by a mysterious snake-like entity and it’s established that whatever-it-is has buried deep into the Moon and is somehow responsible for what happens next. However, that barely scratches the surface of how outrageously silly the rest of Moonfall is and the increasingly jaw-dropping (and unexpectedly original) reveals are a big part of the fun.

Within the set-up, there are two interesting elements of note. The first is that it’s amusing to see a film where the outlandish conspiracy theory is actually correct – one of the film’s best moments involves Houseman gleefully taking pictures on his phone when he realises his “megastructurist” beliefs were correct. The second is the film’s anti-technology stance – there are multiple scenes where technology is painted as a decidedly bad thing, including one moment where the mere existence of Houseman’s aforementioned smartphone nearly dooms the entire planet.

Emmerich is a dab hand at this sort of thing and he duly delivers delightful CGI destruction on an epic scale – not just your usual tidal waves and earthquakes, but special Moon-related destruction where gravity field disruption gives rise to giant, upwards-flowing tidal waves and half of the Chrysler Building breaks off and flies to the mountains. It’s nice to know some things don’t change – after all, it wouldn’t be a Roland Emmerich movie without him laying waste to an iconic building or two.

For a film that’s simultaneously both entertaining and utter rubbish, it’s curious that both the script and performances are essentially split down the middle. The script, in particular, has a number of funny lines (mostly Houseman’s dialogue), but it is also boringly perfunctory for long stretches and when it’s not being dull, it’s being unbearably cheesy instead.

Similarly, Bradley is great fun, putting in a surprisingly relatable turn, considering his outlandish beliefs, and he sparks likeable chemistry with Wilson and Berry, even if the latter is frustratingly underused. However, some of the supporting cast (notably Eme Ikwuakor and Carolina Bartczak as Jocinda and Brian’s respective exes) are so thinly written and poorly performed that they practically disappear before your eyes, and the film’s momentum slams to a halt whenever they appear.

On top of that, the film criminally wastes the talents of both Michael Pena (giving him nothing fun to do or say as Brian’s ex’s millionaire husband) and Donald Sutherland, who pops up for a single scene to do his usual shady-government-operative schtick with a conspiracy speech about the Moon Landings.

Moonfall‘s other main problem is the Earth-based storyline, which plays like a compendium of disaster movie clichés and feels entirely predictable from beginning to end. Frankly, it’s amazing there isn’t a bit with a family dog.

Ultimately, Moonfall only works if you’re prepared to surrender yourself to how gloriously stupid it all is and just go with the flow. If you’re looking for a little more in a movie about the Moon falling into the Earth under mysterious circumstances, then please feel free to deduct a star from our rating accordingly. Otherwise, if you’re looking for big, dumb fun, this delivers with bells on.

*** 3/5

Moonfall is out now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital from Entertainment in Video.


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