Opening in UK and US cinemas from today is new sci-fi disaster movie, Moonfall. The film – from director Roland Emmerich – stars Patrick Wilson, Halle Berry, and John Bradley, and is an epic tale which sees Earth on the brink of extinction.
In the film, humanity faces its darkest hour when it is discovered the Moon is moving closer to the Earth, prompting NASA to send out a crew to investigate. But as the team attempt to get to the bottom of the problem, they are attacked by a mysterious assailant and killed.
The assailant seems to be technological in origin and although few details are known about this shadowy foe, one thing seems clear: It wants to use the Moon as a weapon. The extra-terrestrial lifeform is keen to set the Moon on a collision course with Earth, the likes of which will trigger an extinction-level event.
With NASA struggling to get a handle on the situation, humanity is losing precious time. And as the Moon continues to move ever closer, this causes a series of natural disasters to take place.
With tsunamis ripping through cities and earthquakes tearing up the land, the US military formulate a new plan, whereby they will send nuclear missiles into space to combat the oncoming threat. But with the fallout likely to cause irreparable damage to the planet, NASA’s Deputy Director, Jocinda Fowler, believes she might be able to save the day.
Enlisting the assistance of disgraced former astronaut Brian Harper, and conspiracy theorist KC Houseman, the three mount a new journey into space. But can the trio succeed where others have failed and stop the Moon from causing imminent destruction?
If you’re a fan of Roland Emmerich films (Independence Day, Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, etc) then you will know this is a director who likes to throw everything at the screen. He revels in big explosions, he adores destroying famous landmarks, and he likes nothing more than to deliver pure popcorn fodder.
It’ll come as no surprise then that Moonfall is the sort of film which fits into his portfolio quite neatly. It is a picture filled with varying scenes of destruction, a fairly preposterous world-ending plot, and a bunch of stock characters who could have easily been airlifted from one of his earlier movies.
Moonfall is loud, explosive, and at times utter nonsense. Yet if over-the-top blockbusters and huge scenes of spectacle are your thing, and you love nothing more than to switch off at the cinema and watch Emmerich dish up another dose of disaster-porn, then this movie is for you.
And as someone who quite likes this subgenre of film, I can comfortably say it is for me too. While Moonfall isn’t the director’s best work, and at times it is utter tosh, it is certainly a lot of fun.
Upon entering the cinema today, I opened a large bag of crisps, I flipped open the ring-pull on my can of San Pellegrino Limonata (other, much cheaper lemonades are available), and I disengaged my brain. I then sat comfortably in my seat for the next two(ish) hours, and let the movie entertain me.
And Moonfall did entertain me. It offered me a good dollop of action, it served up a few laughs, and it sprinkled on some science-fiction. I didn’t for one minute take any of it seriously, but I came away having had a good time.
Over the past couple of years due to the pandemic, cinemas have been in short supply of huge blockbusters, and have certainly been lacking in the disaster movie department; so, seeing this one on the big screen felt like a treat. Maybe I was more open to it today than I would be at any other time in my life, because of what we’ve all gone through as of late, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
While the special effects offered nothing particularly new, they did exactly the job they needed to, in order to depict the world-ending scenario. Likewise, the cast pretty much went through the motions, but they did the trick too – especially Patrick Wilson as a likeable all-American hero.
The supporting cast ticked all the required boxes, and the scenes of peril worked out as planned. A few subplots helped flesh out the drama on Earth, while a bit of techno-babble helped fill in the film’s pseudo-science quota.
In short: Moonfall is the sort of movie that does exactly what it says in the trailer or on the poster. It is a film that isn’t looking to reinvent the wheel, nor is it trying to outdo some of the disaster pictures of the past; it is simply offering entertainment, loaded with attention grabbing sequences.
My only real gripe with the film is to do with the placement of the action scenes, as I feel the mid-section could have benefited from a little more destruction. As the Moon gets closer to Earth, various natural disasters occur, but not quite enough for my liking.
Here is where I feel Emmerich should have really gone to town, and it’s here where he could have heaped on the carnage. Instead, he pushes a lot of the big effects scenes to later in the movie, and I feel this is the film’s biggest misstep.
But the good thing is, when the film heads toward its conclusion the action sequences pick up again. There is also some eleventh-hour exposition, which provides some clarity on the threat the world is facing, and this becomes a welcome last-minute addition to the story.
It might seem odd to find enjoyment in disaster movies, especially at a time when the world is going through considerable difficulties, but I like watching these types of films. One reason is because they offer pure escapism, and the other is because they present hope in a time of despair.
Watching a film like Moonfall is a nice reminder that good triumphs over evil, and there is always a glimmer of hope, even at the darkest times. And when you’re watching a film from a director who has done this kind of thing multiple times before, you know you’re in safe hands.
Original? Not really. Enjoyable? Yes.
Moonfall won’t change your life, nor will it sweep the board at the Oscars, but it does offer a bit of daft fun. If that is all you want right now, and you’re willing to accept that you’ve probably seen this movie countless times before, then it is for you.
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