February is a month right in the heart of Awards season. The nominations for the Oscars and BAFTAs are being announced. All the main players are being released in the UK and cinemas are inundated with worthy films. Totally fine if you like that sort of thing but it is not everyone’s cup of tea. That is why counterprogramming is so important. Giving audiences an alternative to the Belfast‘s and The Power Of The Dog‘s of this world. That is where something like Moonfall comes in. A film that overwhelms you, not with emotion, but with sheer spectacle.
Roland Emmerich has spent the last three decades putting the world in a near-constant state of peril. Humanity has been threatened by giant lizards (Godzilla), aliens (Independence Day), mother nature (The Day After Tomorrow) and the end of the Earth (2012).
There is no doubting his credentials. He can deliver a disaster movie better than just about anyone. He wastes absolutely no time in getting the ball rolling. Or should that be moon rolling. Where Don’t Look Up spent 2.5 hours convincing us that people simply would not care about the end of the the world, it takes less than 20 minutes for society to crumble. Coastlines flooded, nuclear weapons armed and lots of looting (weirdly the UK is singled out for that).
A Hail Mary mission is put in place to try and save the planet which allows the film to branch off into two separate plot strands. One in space and one on earth. To keep track of the planetary destruction like “gravity waves” and “oxygen dissipation”.
The problem is that Emmerich stacks his A-listers and anyone with an actual “character” on the space shuttle. Leaving little to no reason to care about anyone left on the planet.
This is science fiction that is light on science and heavy on the fiction. It begins with people making calculations about the moon’s trajectory and impact and then halfway through, throwing away the calculator and just kind of winging it. It’s like the film had an actual scientist with them in the writer’s room at the start who just gave up and walked off as the plot progressed. This film makes The Core look like it should have won a Nobel Prize for Science!
So the crux of the movie is “the moon is out of orbit”. Audience members, think of a reason as to why this would be? Got one? It doesn’t matter how outlandish it is. Write it down. Right, now scrunch that up and throw it away, you are not even close. Now Google moon conspiracy theories and pick the craziest sounding one. Still nowhere near it.
The third act of this film goes to places that are so insane that it will leave audiences slack-jawed, open-mouthed and shaking their heads in utter disbelief to what they are witnessing.
At one point it feels as though Emmerich has aspirations of this being his Interstellar. While there are some “getting a lot of Nolan vibes”, this is Interstellar if the cast and crew had been drinking a lot of Inter-Stella Artois!
It might have gotten away with it to if it didn’t take itself so seriously. Patrick Wilson is your a-typical all-American hero but John Bradley as the scientist who uncovers the mystery is the only one who seems to know what type of movie this is meant to be. Delivering his bat-shit crazy dialogue with a little nod and a wink to how ridiculous it all sounds.
To be fair, the film does live up to the title. The Moon does indeed fall. It is just a shame that by watching Moonfall, your IQ will also fall several points. Complete Lunar Tunes!
Moonfall is exclusively in cinemas from February 3
Director: Roland Emmerich
Stars: Patrick Wilson, Halle Berry, John Bradley, Donald Sutherland
Runtime: 130 minutes