Roland Emmerich is a master at making some of the biggest and stupidest movies in existence. I mean that as a compliment, for the record. You can always count on Roland Emmerich to create popcorn flick after popcorn flick, always mired in 90s era bombast and grandeur. It’s when he tries to deviate from this model, like in Anonymous or Midway, that he falters, since you actually need to use your brain for them. No thinking should ever be required for watching a Roland Emmerich film. So please, don’t bother trying to comprehend the science of Moonfall. It is a pointless, and frankly, futile task.
You wanna know the premise? The moon is on a collision course for the Earth. That’s your premise and Roland just goes all in trying to depict it. All of his tropes and tendencies are on full display here and it is a magical time. I was on the edge of my seat by the time the moon began its collision course. But as I was sitting there, my brain kept on trying to tell me to think about the movie rationally. Examine it for its themes, look at its story structure, special effects, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
I told my brain to screw off because this is garbage and I am a garbage human. This is a must-see movie theater experience.
Director: Roland Emmerich
Release Date: February 4, 2022 (Theatrical)
Okay, so to be real for a moment, no, Moonfall is not the greatest movie of all time. You just need to look at the trailer to understand that there’s a ton of B-movie cheese on display here and the film is relentless at being the stupidest thing in existence. Thankfully, the film never comes across as self-aware, with no one ever winking to the camera, pretending to be in on the joke. You have to admire just how committed everyone is to making one the most moronic sci-fi movies of the past decade and just going all-in on it. No, there’s nothing really about this movie that merits any serious consideration for technical achievements, acting, or any other measure of success with the exception of one: entertainment.
Moonfall is fun. It is a blast to experience. I was in a mostly empty theater but I guarantee you that if you see this in a theater full of people or even with friends, you will have a blast. Say what you will about Roland Emmerich, but when he wants to entertain, he puts on one hell of a show. No one really regards Independence Day as being a cinematic masterpiece thanks to the caliber of its content, but it endures nearly three decades after its release because of the sheer spectacle of it all. And Moonfall is nothing but spectacle.
There’s a glee that I felt whenever I saw the absurdly large moon loom over the horizon, ready to bring some new scientifically implausible chaos onto the cast. Meteorites, earthquakes, tidal waves, wonky gravity, loss of oxygen: you name it, the moon brings it! It gets even more ludicrous when Emmerich decides to combine multiple doomsday tropes together. Tell me, have you ever seen a car chase in low gravity with meteors falling onto the cars? I think not! Or how about the Chrystler Building being smacked by a meteor so hard it flies to Colorado? Cause that happens. That’s before we get to the main threat of the movie, which I won’t spoil because it is so laughable, so completely bonkers that you just need to experience it for yourself. I honestly don’t want him to make another disaster movie because, frankly, it’ll pale in comparison to this.
While I’ve seen a lot of movies over the past couple of years for Flixist, I don’t think I’ve ever been as happy watching a movie as I’ve been with Moonfall. This is the equivalent of making a ten-year-old snort some pixie sticks, giving him a bunch of sci-fi action figures, and watching him smash them together for two hours. There are times when I want to have deep, contemplative experiences that can emotionally impact me and change the way that I view cinema. Then there are also times when I want to see the government try and nuke the moon because AMERICA. Just guess which of those two options Moonfall falls into.
I mentioned earlier the typical Roland Emmerich tropes are here in full force. While you do have a central trio present, played by Patrick Wilson, Halle Berry, and John Bradley, you have a cast of well over a dozen minor supporting characters each with their own unique influence on the plot. Weirdly, the most memorable characters are only present in a few scenes while the more standard and bland ones take up the majority of the screen time. The exception to this is John Bradley’s character, a conspiracy theorist who believes that the moon is hollow and was actually built by aliens. While his character is the most interesting one, he’s also the most grating one.
It’s a combination of a lot of different components that dampened my enthusiasm for the film. Even when I was gripped with the lunacy on screen, he usually pulled me back to reality with his uninteresting comic relief. He has a bunch of forced comedy and jokes that feel out of place, as well as a disposition that never gelled with the stakes of the movie. Everyone else played their roles with an air of seriousness, but even the slightest bit of comedic relief here instantly makes the joke not funny. He mellows out by the end of the movie just in time for it to go off the deep end, but that broken immersion still hurts.
I also can’t ignore just how generic the film is leading up to its climax. I don’t mind tropes when they’re used effectively, but when you put so many tropes in at the same time, it makes the movie lose some of its individuality. I’m fine with the Roland Emmerich tropes, but other ones just felt like they were studio notes. There’s an obligatory Chinese character to directly appeal to the Chinese market, but then you have Patrick Wilson’s character being just the blandest protagonist around. He’s a disgraced alcoholic astronaut with a bad relationship with his family and his mission to save the Earth also coincides with him reconnecting with his family. We’ve seen it before a million times and it’s not interesting to watch. We didn’t come to see Moonfall to watch Patrick Wilson be a better father. We came to Moonfall to watch the moon fall!
When that does finally happen, it’s glorious stupidity. It’s a masterpiece of entertainment that does everything right. It constantly escalates and never lets up, making you wonder just how in the world can they top what just happened. And they do it every single time. It’s a spectacle in every sense of the word and it’s something that needs to be seen in the largest theater available.
It’s when Moonfall actually tries to be a film that it underwhelms, but I think we all knew that going into it. It’s being savaged critically by others, but you don’t go into Moonfall expecting a good movie. You go into Moonfall expecting an entertaining movie, and it succeeds at every possible turn. My brain tells me no, but my heart tells me yes. And if your heart tells you that you’re gonna like Moonfall, then I highly recommend giving it a watch. If not, then nothing will change your mind on it.