Roland Emmerich’s latest sci-fi disaster film, Moonfall, combines conspiracy with catastrophe in answer to a question that no-one (well, no one sane, anyway) asked.
With a core cast comprised of Halle Berry, Patrick Wilson, John Bradley, Michael Peña, Charlie Plummer, and more, and an interesting potentially apocalyptic premise, Moonfall certainly had a lot of potential. Pre-release trailers revealed some of the film’s stunning visuals and occasional moments of humor, which set Moonfall in good stead to become a box office success, if not a commercial one.
From its first scene, Moonfall looks as good as any effect-heavy sci-fi can. Given the nature of the film’s story, much of its action is rendered using CGI, but rarely does it feel worse for it. In fact, Moonfall‘s visuals are one of its biggest strengths. Not that that’s saying much, because it’s severely lacking in almost every other area.
Moonfall‘s dialogue is poorly written throughout, with each of its characters given at least one opportunity to spew the corniest B-movie cheese imaginable. Still, in a film about the moon crashing into the Earth it should probably have been expected, but the poor writing is all the more evident for the film’s solid visuals.
However, while Moonfall‘s dialogue is awful, its general story is passable. It still reads like the plot to a ’70s B-movie, but by using disaster movie pseudo-science, it holds up well enough to serve its own purposes without too many glaring plot holes. It’s hardly cerebral, but it’s not actively dumb, either.
Much like Moonfall‘s writing, the film’s acting is inconsistent at best. Its trio of main characters – played by Berry, Wilson, and Bradley – all bring their roles to life convincingly, with a few well-placed moments of humor to lighten what might have otherwise been a fairly depressing experience. In this, Moonfall redeems itself somewhat, as it doesn’t feel quite so serious – and if it’s not taking itself too seriously, you probably shouldn’t, either. However, its supporting cast are far less capable, leading to an odd juxtaposition between its two main settings – in space and on Earth, respectively – which can be a little jarring at times.
While its writing may not be overly commendable, Moonfall is paced nicely, carrying its momentum even as its plot becomes increasingly far-fetched. With its steady pace and relentless visual excess, Moonfall is likely to hold the attention of even the more discerning audience members, even if they’re less than enthralled with the film as a whole.
Moonfall is little more than a popcorn film. It makes good use of modern CGI, but its general premise feels at least a few decades too late, and while its stars try valiantly to make it something more, the weak script simply drags it down. It’s not without its positive points, but ultimately, Moonfall is about as hollow as it purports its titular heavenly body to be.
Summary: Despite solid visuals and occasional moments of comedy, Moonfall is nothing more than bang-average. It’s Roland Emmerich at his most Emmerich – although it’s more Independence Day than 2012.
Highlights: Moonfall delivers one or two moments of genuine emotion thanks to the efforts of its stars – although even these are so laden with cheese that it’s hard to stomach.