Even though I’m a fan of Halle Berry and I was looking forward to watching Moonfall, I have to say that director Roland Emmerich’s latest disaster film ended up being quite disappointing.
This review of Moonfall contains major spoilers. Consider yourself warned!
Once the promotional content got released online, I thought Moonfall was going to be a movie that required the audience to shut off their brains and simply enjoy the absurdity that would unfold onscreen. And you know what? I was ready to do just that. After all, the entire premise of Moonfall involved the freaking moon falling out of orbit and hurtling towards Earth. You know what you signed up for!
However, after watching a few minutes of Moonfall, I immediately saw one of the biggest flaws in this movie. For a premise that sounded perfect for an audience ready to not think too much, the film itself refused to not take itself too seriously. I’m all for numbing my brain and shutting down the “critic” side of my thought process depending on the type of content being watched. But if a film like Moonfall continued to be too serious and passionate when it came to explaining the fictional science existing in the story, I can’t help but ask questions!
The moment conspiracy theorist K.C. Houseman (John Bradley) started explaining how the moon was actually a megastructure fueled by harnessing the power of a star and NASA scientists talked about numbers and nanotechnology behind the moon falling out of orbit, Moonfall forced me to awaken my brain.
There’s an entire thing about how the moon was built by humanity’s ancestors a long time ago. Apparently, our highly-advanced ancestors were defeated by AI (big surprise!) and the moon was created to give rise to planet Earth, away from the AIs’ reach. However, one of the evil AIs found the moon and decided to start disrupting the star-powered core.
Why the heck didn’t the evil AI send a signal to its AI friends (there’s more than one, right?) to help hasten the destruction of the moon and Earth? I have no idea. The fact that the evil AI waited 10 whole years for the moon to start destroying Earth by coming too close made me roll my eyes.
Also, if an EMP blast was enough to destroy the evil AI, why didn’t the highly-advanced ancestors create a giant EMP bomb to stop the swarm of evil AI nanobots? They had time to create megastructures, but couldn’t develop numerous EMP bombs? Hmmm.
I wouldn’t have been asking these questions if Moonfall didn’t make me do it by continuously adding more layers to the info dump as the narrative progressed. Frankly, there was no reason to explain so much fictional science in a movie like this. But then again, without so much info, how else would Emmerich have laid the groundwork for two more movies in the franchise?
Yup! I too had no idea Moonfall was supposed to be the first in a three-movie sci-fi franchise involving megastructures, AI, and human ancestry.
Considering the disappointing approximately $10 million opening weekend for Moonfall (against a reported budget of $140 million), I guess Emmerich can wave goodbye to his plans of working on two more installments in the franchise.
Emmerich should have focused on making Moonfall stand on its own as a fun disaster flick instead of bogging it down with tedious groundwork for potential future installments. Sigh!
Also, for an Emmerich film, Moonfall lacked death and destruction. The limited human element also did no favors to the narrative wanting to make the moon-centric apocalypse feel intense. If a moon’s falling to Earth, I want to see chaos! I want to see background characters dying in different ways. Show me people dropping like flies around the globe!
With K.C., Jo Fowler (Halle Berry), and Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson) going into space to deal with the moon, the narrative jumped between the trio and Jo and Brian’s family on Earth. The script tried to give the supporting cast some kind of narrative arc, but, in my opinion, there were just too many characters for such a film to handle. The way the script simply brushed away the relationship troubles between Sonny (Charlie Plummer) and his stepfather Tom (Michael Peña) was just wow. At least try and make the human interactions feel a bit believable?
Having said that, I did like certain things Moonfall had to offer. It had a couple of nice-looking visual and comedic moments. I also liked K.C’s character arc. He didn’t come across as your typical Hollywood hero, especially with Wilson’s Brian being part of the main cast. But by the end of the film, it was K.C. who willingly stepped up to the plate to save Earth. He’s also the character that’s used to set up the sequel. It made sense for K.C. to do what he did.
I also enjoyed how the script handled Jo and Brian as characters. I was a bit turned off when Jo got knocked out when the evil AI attacked her and Brian for the first time during the opening ten minutes. She didn’t even get to witness what happened.
However, the final act gave Jo the opportunity to save Brian. Not only that, but she’s also the one who came up with the plan to save Earth and persuaded Brian to return to working for NASA to protect humanity.
Berry, Wilson, and Bradley did what they could with the script (Bradley being the clear standout against experienced movie actors). However, even our talented leads weren’t enough to elevate the poor writing. There was just way too much happening for the narrative to feel like a cohesive story.
As a Halle Berry fan, I was quite disappointed. I want her to do better when selecting roles. I get that she might not have a lot to choose from as a 55-year-old Black actress in Hollywood who has bills to pay, but still, I want her to be a bit more selective as an Oscar-winning actress. Even her next film, The Mothership, is a sci-fi romp for Netflix. Hopefully, that one will fare better.
Did you watch Moonfall? What did you think of it?
Feel free to share your thoughts with us.
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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