Director Roland Emmerich knows his way around a disaster. After Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, and 2012 — to name a few, many audiences can expect grandiose special effects and top-tier actors trying to save the world. In his latest disaster film Moonfall, the moon is literally falling towards the Earth — causing chaos as gravity is affected.
In order to save the world, NASA must depend on disgraced astronaut Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson), conspiracy theorist Dr. KC Houseman (played hilariously by John Bradley), and NASA executive Jo Fowler (Halle Berry) to fix it. The three must travel to the moon in a span of a few hours (ignoring the concept of time) and put the moon back into place.
It’s all pretty ridiculous, but the movie is not trying to be another Gravity or even Interstellar. It knows better. Instead, Moonfall embraces the “what if” element of the Moon crashing into Earth and cranks the action up by 200% and adds in some aliens (because why not?) into the mix. The VFX of the world disasters and the terror on the moon is a spectacle with people being sucked up by the lack of gravity through “gravitational waves” that come and go as the Moon gets closer to Earth. It is a mixture of 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow with its tsunami scenes and Independence Day and Independence Day: Resurgence when dealing with the exterrestrial aspect — both of which is Emmerich’s specialty and does it very well.
The characters themselves are also likable — despite having no character development and following the standard “unlikely hero” trope. The only exception is KC, the lovable wannabe scientist who has always wanted to be taken seriously with a very supportive mother, who, sadly, suffers from dementia. Bradley plays the character with so much humor and heart that you truly feel for the guy. Though, it seems a little problematic to highlight and humanize an Elon-Musk-loving conspiracy theorist in this day and age.
The film does suffer from pacing issues — it’s just too long. The over two-hour film drags when trying to explain why things are happening using a bunch of useless scientific jargon. Also, there were scenes that felt unnecessary because they simply wanted each main character to have their “hero” moment. Even Jo’s ex-husband, military man Doug (Eme Ikwuakor), who has less than ten minutes of screentime, is given a heroic moment to save his ex-wife.
Overall, the film doesn’t take itself too seriously, so the audience shouldn’t either. It’s just a fun, absurd blockbuster about the world ending and how unexpected underdogs saved it.