Moonfall Review: A disastrous disaster movie
Writer/director Roland Emmerich has a long, very successful career creating some of the most notable disaster flicks, like The Day After Tomorrow, and alien invasion flicks, like Independence Day, of all time. However, his latest attempt to combine the two, Moonfall, is just a disaster.
Disaster movies’ strengths are generally more in the spectacle they provide rather than the story, and that’s pretty much the case for Moonfall. Its story follows blacklisted astronaut Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson) and conspiracy theorist K.C. Houseman (John Bradley) as they attempt to formulate a plan to stop a deadly alien force from diverting the moon from its orbit and crashing into Earth – eliminating humanity in the process. It’s not a surprise that Moonfall’s story isn’t all that great, but it’s truly the bottom of the barrel for disaster movie stories with how non-sensical, annoying, and unnecessarily convoluted it is.
The big thing that Moonfall lacks is likeable characters that could get viewers invested into the action and story even in its weaker moments. There’s just simply nothing fun about these characters and the personalities they have make them total drags right from the start. Harper’s story of redemption has very little heart to it and his character lacks any real depth making it completely rely on the star power of Wilson, who gives a pretty one-note performance. Houseman’s whole schtick of desperately wanting people to believe him and being nearly unable to contain his geek energy grows tiresome almost immediately and he’s so obnoxiously annoying that every time his theories end up being right, you feel irritated because of how much he has to say how right he is. As for pretty much every other character in Moonfall, they’re completely forgettable, regardless of who is playing them, because this film’s story is barely cohesive and competent.
Its first act time jumps create confusing character relationships and when it tries to blend disaster movie and alien invasion plotlines, it fails on both fronts. There are few reasons to be attached to any of these characters or multiple storylines that congest the film, so the stakes never feel high in Moonfall making all the disaster sequences not as impactful. Even worse is there are only a few disaster action sequences in Moonfall and they take way too long to get to. The worst thing a disaster movie can be is long and boring and Moonfall unfortunately fits that bill with how long it takes to get to its spectacle and even then, the visual spectacles aren’t all that exciting.
Admittedly, the extreme gravitational pull of the moon creates some unique action visuals in the final act, but the rest of it feels like Emmerich is just pulling ideas from other movies, especially his own. With the stakes so low and the exciting action minimal, you’re just begging for Moonfall to end at times, which it just never wants to do. Once the film finally gets to the source of its aliens and their backstory, it feels way too late and overcomplicates things to an aggravating extent. The third act alien story just prolongs the film to a frustrating extent that you’re just begging for it to end. It ends up being tough to resist delivering sighs of agony with every moment Moonfall goes on and is genuinely challenging to sit through.
Moonfall is sadly not the kind of bad film that’s even remotely entertaining to watch. Rather, it’s a disaster film that’s simply a painfully boring disaster that can barely utilize its on-screen talent or create a visually epic spectacle that’s fun to watch unfold. Simply put, it’s a mess.