When entering into a theater to watch a movie called “Moonfall,” one has to know what they are getting into, and if one is expecting anything less than the filmic equivalent of a “Mad Lib” written in a drunken stupor — seemingly by a toddler, no less — one can only be disappointed every single time.
The “Citizen Kane” of movies about the moon falling into the Earth’s orbit, “Moonfall” does what it says literally in the title to the very end, never veering into anything less insane than the title suggests. It knows it is crazy, stays crazy and never tries to further the insanity. But it is never the good kind of craziness, insanity, or lunacy. Just the boring kind.
And for those reasons alone, Roland Emmerich’s latest disaster movie is a disaster of a movie. If these characters, who are astronauts, had been replaced by monkeys then the movie would be exactly 100% more enjoyable. In fact, adding a monkey as the third character instead of conspiracy theorist K.C. Houseman (played by John Bradley) would make “Moonfall” an inherently more interesting movie. Not a better movie — just more interesting. And that’s all anyone could ever ask of a movie named “Moonfall” to be: interesting. And this movie called “Moonfall” is anything but, especially when it comes to the character Houseman.
It begs the audience — in my screening there was no audience, just me — to consider that conspiracy theorists MIGHT be onto something. If you cannot make that logical nosedive, as no one should, you can see “Moonfall” for what it is: pure, unadulterated lunacy from start to finish. The whole movie is dedicated to its insane premise while never giving in and having fun with any of it. “Moonfall” treats every moment like it is some earned, dramatic triumph, when really all of the dramatic and emotional beats whiff it when they are at bat. After a while, it just becomes offensive in assuming anyone would care about any single thing happening on the big screen.
Characters do things solely because they need to for the movie to function as a movie. Never at any point will anyone gasp in shock or drop their jaw in wonder. This was meant to be his salvation for audiences stuck in the trenches of IP-drenched weekends with superheroes coming at the screen one after the other. Instead, audiences will be left with a movie that teases a sequel one would pay not to see and it all winds up feeling like a relic.
It makes sense: Emmerich cut his teeth with ‘90s disaster-movie extravaganzas. “Independence Day” (1996) is a solid popcorn flick, “The Patriot” (2000) is red-white-blue propaganda at its most melodramatic and overtly multiplex accessible, and he was even somewhat ahead of the curve with “The Day After Tomorrow” (2004) and its climate-change basis (popularized last year with the allegorical “Don’t Look Up”).
“Moonfall” was not made in the ’90s, but sure plays like it was with cheesy dialogue, clumsy plotting and cardboard-cutout thick characters that do things solely because a movie called “Moonfall” needs them to do those things so that the movie called “Moonfall” can end. And one can only end a review of the movie “Moonfall” in much the same way. By just ending it.
1 out of 5 stars.