With “Moonfall,” Roland Emmerich wrecks the earth once more, but this time his heart isn’t in it. With films like “Independence Day” and his own global warming epic, “The Day After Tomorrow,” the German nihilist blockbuster director, who has seldom encountered a conspiracy theory he doesn’t like, has become the “master of disaster.” But, whereas his picture “2012” was overpowering in its desire to convert mass death into a roller coaster thrill trip with two toddlers in the backseat, “Moonfall” illustrates that a dull apocalyptic film is much worse than one ảound how we are all doomed.
“Moonfall” describes the tragedy that would ensue if the moon were to break out from its orbit and collide with the Earth. The Earth’s gravity would gradually become out of whack before the big spike, and the moon would drop debris as it got closer. Emmerich adds a “Transformers”-style edge to the hare-brained science about why this may be occurring for good measure, but it too suffers from a lackluster concept and execution. Don’t get me wrong: this film is more appealing as a parallel to Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia,” a film about a giant planet colliding with Earth.
The military of the United States determines that the moon must be nuked. But there’s something else occurring the moon—something inside it—and it depends on three smart people to stop it from devastating Earth, including disgraced astronaut Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson), a courageous NASA leader, and Brian’s fellow astronaut partner Jocinda Fowl (Halle Berry), and a conspiracy theorist named KC (John Bradley), who has long suspected the moon is a megastructure. KC discovers about the change in course and reveals it to the media, estimating that there are only around three weeks remaining. They take to the air alone on a shuttle, and it doesn’t have a sense of victory since the film is attempting to reduce its cast scale as much as possible.
Brian and his troubled son Sonny (Charlie Plummer) and his ex-wife and their two daughters; Jocinda and her son and her ex-husband and the foreign exchange student who takes care of her kid (Kelly Yu); and KC and his mother and his cat, Fuzz Aldrin (given an amazing close-up).
“Moonfall,” co-written by Harald Kloser and Spencer Cohen, is a sluggish, protracted train of one cliché tied to another, slowing time down despite the juggling of these several one-dimensional relationships. The human storylines, which are so telegraphed in the drama of their characters, are superfluous rather than engaging us. “I don’t hate you,” a stepfather and his angsty kid say when they reconcile midway through the film. “You know what? I’ll take it.”
Other more purposeful shortcuts are evident in “Moonfall,” implying a budget that could only allow for so much damage (his previous film, “Midway,” was more liked-real than one with similar constructs). The fact that the film’s rendition of Colorado is a sound set with one small snowy road for multiple scenes is so clear; you can see how cramped the performers are, and you can sense Charlie Plummer’s disgust in his line-reading. Working with less budget than his earlier hit, “Moonfall” appears to be continually hampered by its overt use of green screens and the enormous effort put in by its visual effects workers. Emmerich’s blockbuster vision has come back to the starting point: he may have spawned a slew of direct-to-video catastrophe films with names like “2012: Doomsday,” but now he’s developed a film that’s just as aesthetically obnoxious and lacking in ambition.
Emmerich’s sense of humanity may be found in who delivers the impassioned performances and who does not, a transparent and self-amusing director. Only KC gets the exclamation marks in this case, allowing him to yell about how the moon is a megastructure and eventually his astonishment at being proven correct. (KC gets to say “I love Elon” in a film set in the age of Elon Musk and Space X launches.) Everyone else, on the other hand, struggles with periods when their experience is an exclamation point: “Oh shit, the moon is rising” is never minimized until you’ve seen “Moonfall.” Emmerich’s nihilism used to be strange in how eager he was to depict devastation, but now he is fed up with mankind. Even reliable forces like Wilson and Berry cannot evoke what little drama the story has.
The film’s sloppy feeling of the end of the world may be funny at times; observe each time anything awful occurs in the background of a scene, and how the actors in the foreground hardly react to it. “Moonfall” seldom features the normal devastation interludes from past Emmerich films; who knew we’d miss them this much, or his compulsory destruction of the White House? The film almost completely ignores the fact that it is dealing with an apocalypse and that the fate of humanity is at risk. Honestly, there is a “gravity wave” in the middle of the film that lifts trucks and tankers and bodies of water and throws them around California, and the creators of the visual effects pull off an astounding job. The apocalypse, on the other hand, should not seem so dull.
At the very least, there’s the wacky stuff, which culminates with Emmerich stretching his wackier muscles in the third act with a lunar explanation worthy of its own History Channel series. It’s what you’ve earned if you’re willing to put time and money into “Moonfall.” And it’s evident that it’s the notion that Emmerich is most concerned about this self-assignment since he takes it very seriously and devotes himself to it, effectively ending the entire human component issue in the process. It could be interesting to other fans of filmmakers airing out their craziest passions employing big movie stars and zeros and ones. The remainder of “Moonfall” is a wash, and it’s not even a dumb-fun film about the end of the world.
The film is now on air in cinemas.