“Moonfall” is blockbuster wannabe, created by the guy who has created many of these types of movies before. The prior efforts of Roland Emmerich have been loud and wild, and with just enough logical sense to keep all the action grounded. But it usually delivers on the ‘put the brain in neutral and pass the popcorn’ style of a fun experience. Here, he gets a little more Science involved, but it is still wild and loud fun.
Brian Harper (played by Patrick Wilson) is a Space Shuttle astronaut, working with the Mission Commander Jo Fowler (played by Halle Berry). This back before the Shuttle fleet was grounded, and on the final Mission. But a mysterious presence comes out of the Moon and attacks the Space Shuttle. There is a lost astronaut, and the Shuttle power is gone. Brian watches as this cloud of strange stuff retreats back into the Moon.
Years later, Brian has been kicked out of NASA. His explanation did not hold up, and his teammate Jo Fowler could not confirm his story. She is still in charge at NASA, and he is a washed-up and failed astronaut. He saved the rest of the crew by landing the Shuttle with no power. But all that NASA knows is that he could not save that one person.
A guy named K. C. Houseman (played by John Bradley) sneaks his way to get accurate readings of the Moon’s orbit. He makes a shocking discovery, and tries to let NASA know about it. Nobody will talk with him, because he mostly known for hosting a ‘kook’ podcast. K. C. gets a hold of Brian with the readings that backup his theory – the Moon has left the orbit where it was, and it spinning closer and closer to the Earth. It will be just a matter of weeks before it crashes down, and all life will be extinguished! Oh, also there will be bagels at the next conspiracy meeting at the hotel down the street…
There is turmoil and disturbances everywhere. Oceans tidal waves become huge, and earthquakes rage all the while huge chunks of lunar surface tear off the Moon and crash into mountains. The NASA crew that remains finally locates the old Shuttle which is in an historical display. They drag it to a fully prepared a launch site to put it up to the Moon. There is no crew left to take it up, so it rests on the shoulders of Jo Fowler, Brian Harper and K. C. Houseman. There is a special device on-board that is an EMP, something that could stop anything electrical right in its tracks.
But Jo’s husband is a Military General. His goal is to send up all the atomic warheads to the Moon to destroy it. But the Moon is so close that huge chunks of radioactive debris would rain down on the Earth’s surface for ages. The make-shift Shuttle crew has to succeed at stopping the strange swarm of particles that lives down in the Moon. The will need to get up close and personal with the mystery that ruined Brian’s mission all those years ago.
But what they find there – inside the Moon – is a bizarre and wondrous sight. It is a hollow globe that is filled up with something that… Not getting into details that would spill the beans, let’s just say that the theories about ‘Ancient Astronauts’ might not seem as crazy now to Brian and Jo and K. C. Houseman. You might say they have a ‘Close Encounter of the Third Kind’ while making ‘Contact’ before Earth meets ‘Oblivion’.
“Moonfall” is a wild ride, and it travels down many roads that you might have seen before. The open sequence is like ‘Gravity’, and there are many visuals borrowed from various science-fiction classics. You might see parts of ‘Armageddon’, or from the ‘Matrix’ or from the movie ‘Contact’. Of course, there is the super-sized Moon in the sky, just like from ‘Bruce Almighty’. Stealing from one is plagiarism, but stealing from many is ‘homage’…
That is not to say is movie is dull and stupid. No, on the contrary, it brings up a whole ton of scientific concepts and theories. The characters are pretty shallow and there is a whole sequence concerning what is going on back on Earth. The Earth-bound storyline gets dragged out way to long. What happens in space at least is more visually entertaining.
“Moonfall” is a good reminder of what the Big Screen Blockbuster is supposed to look like. But don’t look too close, because there are as many cracks in the logic as on the lunar surface…
Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Written by: Roland Emmerich, Harald Kloser, Spenser Cohen
Starring: Halle Berry, Patrick Wilson, John BradleyCinematography: Robby Baumgartner
Edited by: Adam Wolfe, Ryan Stevens Harris
Music by: Thomas Wander, Harald Kloser
Distributed by: Lionsgate
Release date: February 4, 2022
Length: 120 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13 for violence, disaster action, strong language, and some drug use
Genre: Science Fiction