Review: “Moonfall” – Roland Emmerich’s moon disaster film bombs at ludicrous speed


Photo by

Ben Kaiser, News Editor

I gotta stop saying, “Okay, let’s see how dumb this can get.” Because… man, is this one stupid. I mean, the moon falling to Earth to kill us all instead of an asteroid sounds interesting and different. It sounds like a good time aside from the floods, gravity spikes, moon chunks hurtling to Earth, and everyone screaming. But you had to get greedy and add dumb to the formula to get this mixture called “Moonfall.”
“Moonfall” is a disaster movie. Unlike “Armageddon,” Earth will be struck by the moon instead of a massive asteroid. Now you might be wondering, “How can that possibly happen with gravity and physics and all that science-y crap?” Well, the answer is simple: “Science is for nerds, now shut up and give me your money.”
“Moonfall” is directed by the “master of disaster” Roland Emmerich. Disasters are Emmerich’s M.O. with films. “The Day After Tomorrow,” “2012,” ”Independence Day,” and the other “Independence Day” are all films where the world was nearly destroyed. The planet somehow always survives Emmerich’s attempts but not before sustaining massive destruction to cities and historic landmarks. And surprise, surprise, “Moonfall” is exactly that.
“Moonfall” stars Patrick Wilson (“The Conjuring” series) as Brian Harper, Halle Berry (“Monster’s Ball”) as Jocinda Fowler, and John Bradley (HBO’s “Game of Thrones”) as KC Houseman. It’s a short list, I know, buut those were really the only characters worth mentioning.
The disaster begins when “megastructuralist” (I don’t know if this is a real conspiracy theory, but it’s apparently a belief that the moon is a manmade structure) KC Houseman discovers data showing the moon losing orbit, spiraling towards Earth. He contacts Brian Harper, a disgraced astronaut who blamed a mysterious alien swarm for a failed mission 10 years prior. Both warn Harper’s former astronaut Jocinda Fowler, who now works in NASA.
NASA discovers the same alien swarm Harper encountered on his mission, which is some kind of violent, AI “thing” that is the cause of the moon’s crash course to Earth. After most of everyone deserts post to hide from the moon, the three main characters try to get a rocket to the moon that can possibly stop this swarm and save the world from the crushing moon.
So, I’ll get this out of the way; this movie sucks. Big shocker; I think most people knew that seeing the movie preview. I don’t think this was meant to be taken seriously, but this just gets annoying and dumb fast. People can get hurt by this sort of dumb.
One of the bigger problems is one of the moon heroes, KC Houseman, a conspiracy nut whose wild claims of the moon come true. The conspiracy he’s obsessed over is made-up for the film (I’m pretty sure), but it makes as much sense as those other theories out there, like flat Earth or the fake moon landing. Having a conspiracy theorist proven right and becoming the big hero of the movie just feels awkward to me.
Houseman is harmless in the film (of course he is, it’s Samwell from “Game of Thrones”) but should we be making these kinds of movies celebrating characters that resemble real-life nut jobs that harass people with crazy theories? In the film, Houseman and his fellow theorists are having a small conference at a hotel and having a calm discussion of their stuff. But in real life, these people like walking up to random people in the parks, supermarkets, and even school playgrounds to bug them into believing reptilian overlords control Congress or whatever. I just don’t think these kinds of crazy people should be written up as heroes. Sends a weird message, you know?
Much like Emmerich’s “The Day After Tomorrow,” the science is insultingly off. Emmerich seems more interested in the idea of the moon falling to Earth but not to explain it. It’s probably why it’s revealed that the moon is a hollow, planet-building machine (whoops, I mean, spoilers) so Emmerich can write up whatever rules he wanted.
I don’t know, but I feel that actual science in science fiction would have made this more fun to watch. It could have been secret government experiments on the moon that goes wrong. Or perhaps, a gravity anomaly is pulling the moon to the Earth. Hell, maybe even have aliens roll in and shoot the moon with alien lasers and threaten the planet for ransom. If we don’t give in to their demands, they won’t stop the moon from crashing. It would all still be BS but at least tangible BS is still better than garbage BS.
But at least my eyes wouldn’t hurt from rolling every time someone mentions “megastructure.”
There’s also a scene where Fowler is explaining the moon’s trajectory spiraling towards Earth with a lunar rotation equation or something like that. I’m not a science major. But whatever space/lunar equation Fowler is referring to, the NASA director (you know, the guy that is in charge of space operations and stuff) has no idea what Fowler is talking about and needs it to be explained like it’s his first day. Almost as if it was a lazy writing attempt to explain to the audience…
I suppose I should focus on at least one thing that I did enjoy about this film. Let me think about that… Ok, so because NASA was short of space shuttles, they recovered a working one (somehow) from a museum. But not before vandals spray-painted “F— the Moon” on the side. The same shuttle launches into space to take on the killer AI and the moon, still sporting its bad word graffiti. It’s a sure sign of the film not taking itself seriously, and it was a funny moment. Also, it’s a PG-13 film but has the F-word clearly shown and Houseman earlier saying the word, which is rare for a PG-13 rating. Usually, a movie with that rating can get away with just one F-bomb.

It’s funny to note that for previews and TV spots, they edited the message to “Screw the Moon.”

One last thing that’s not about the actual movie, but it’s more on the director. Emmerich recently posted comments on Star Wars, Marvel, and DC movies, citing that they’re ruining the film industry and nothing is original anymore. He’s actually complaining about originality! Especially after Emmerich not only rehashed his previous disaster movies but also helped himself to other movie ideas. “Armageddon,” “The Terminator,” “Contact,” “Armageddon,” “Elysium,” “Mission to Mars,” and “Armageddon” again are a few examples; I think there might be more, but I don’t remember or was probably distracted.
Not to mention, the director that keeps revamping end-of-the-world disaster films is calling out other filmmakers for being unoriginal. I mean, come on.
“Moonfall” is dumb entertainment, and that’s all it is. It’s probably a good pick for something to play for friends on a bad movie night or even background stuff. Honestly, “Jackass Forever” sounds like a more polished movie to watch right now. Middle-aged men torturing and humiliating each other with beehives, vultures, scorpions, and a bed of cactuses; yeah, sounds like a better time.
“Moonfall” is currently bombing in theaters and will likely be in the $5 discount bin at Wal-Mart in a week or two.