‘…this particular moon is made of delicious bad-movie cheese….’

‘How many Brians are there in the moon?’ is an early entry in 2022’s list of immortal movie quotes; Halle Berry is an award-winning actress, but what can she or anyone do with lines like that? The disaster movie is fairly old-hat these days, yet Roland Emmerich persists in making movies with stars and concepts that would have wowed audience in the mid 90’s, but seem a little retro now, not least because so much of Moonfall’s action was parodied in Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up. So if you only see one movie in which the earth faces up to an impending cosmic disaster and sends a heroic astronaut up to save the world, you’re probably better with the Adam McKay spoof, but there’s tonnes of ironic fun to be had from watching this amusingly straight version, which appears with Fortinbras timing shortly after the parody much like Airport 80: The Concorde did after Airplane.

This is a story of ‘mounting moon terror’ in which the Moon itself is the baddie; it’s not just any moon, it’s a megastructure, a line regularly repeated by heroic conspiracy expert KC Houseman (John Bradley). I’m not aware of Bradley from Game of Thrones, but I’d be keen to see a lot less of him after one of the trademark cringe-worthy comic relief performances that Emmerich loves to leaven his action with. Yup, the moon turns out to be a physical contstruct, created by aliens and protected by ‘swarms of biotechnology’. With the moon exerting some kind of magnetic power of earth (gravity waves ahoy!), disgraced astronaut Brick Lampjaw Rock Hardnut Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson) gets the chance to redeem himself by flying a graffiti-covered space-shuttle to the moon and sorting things out in some sub-Solaris conversations with the AI algorithm in charge.

Sounds hokey? You ain’t heard half of it yet, since Emmerich never heard a scenario that he didn’t think would be improved by multiple-planes of action. Harper’s son Sonny (Charlie Plummer) is involved in a series of car-chases and gunfights as he travels across the US with car-dealer Michael Pena and underused love-interest Kelly Yu, while Eme Ikwuakor plays the ex-husband of Jo (Halle Berry) who takes the NASA command centre at gunpoint to ensure the safety of his one-time wife while she’s in space. Confused? You should be, since this multiple-character drama rapidly shunts actors on and off screen between dramatic curtains of expensive special effects.

We haven’t even got to Donald Sutherland’s secretive astronaut; all the trappings are in place for a pricey ($150+ million reportedly) romp. Sops to Chinese finance? How about regular dropped-in mentions of ‘our Chinese friends’ to sweeten the deal? Product placements for iphones? Cute cats called Fuzz Aldrin that play a key role in the action? Yup, the good ship Moonfall sets sail with all these cheesy elements present and correct, and it’s hard not to take any enjoyment from a proposition every bit as ridiculous as the similarly overblown Geostorm. Mixing elements of Elysium, Prometheus, Armageddon, 2012 and more, Moonfall is a perfect storm of delerious film-making, a veritable festival of silly dialogue and flashy effects that proves, once and for all, that this particular moon is made of delicious bad-movie cheese.


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  1. I’m impressed by this review pointing the flaws by the funny side. That’s the exact way to see this “Moonfall”, sort of synthesis of the complete Emmerich demolition enterprise. It could by a simple guilty pleasure but there’s a tiny conspiracy music going on through the script and it scratches my good feelings about the film. Too bad.

    • I hear you, and you’re not alone. When Oliver Stone added conspiracy theories to the mainstream with JFK, it was fresh. In the middle of a pandemic, less so; I think this element of Emmerich’s cinema has passed its sell by date.

        • I just did my due diligence; I never suspected that KC was a real person. In a fluff film like this, why bother?

          • Replying and correcting myself; I guess if they were picking up on existing conspiracy theories, they had to give them some credence. The takeaway; Emmerich digs this stuff but it’s surplus to our narrative requirements right now.

            • Maybe you’re right. But in a way here, you can see the triumph of the silly theory over the real science. Even if it seems to come out of a delirious mind. Monty Python would have made such a huge parody with this idea.

              • Agreed. Back in the 90’s a conspiracy theory character would have been ideal comic relief, but things have changed, and having science come second to silliness in terms of credibility isn’t a winner now…

  2. Speaking of confused: When this was first announced — without knowing the backstory — I thought Emmerich was shooting the famed/infamous “Blacklist” script, Moonfall, by David Weil (Hunters with Al Pacino), which concerns an investigation of a murder on a moon colony (think Fargo in space). That script is either fantastic or overrated . . . and poorly research, rife with “junk science” — and was hot for a green light (it’s not on Weil’s IMDb page, so I guess, no more). Those cherish “Blacklist” scripts rarely get made, anyway.

    As for this Moonfall: I’ve read a few reviews — both indie websters and mainstream — and this reads like an Asylum/Syfy Channel flick, amid all. But at least with that shingle’s fun, recent mocks of Meteor Moon, Asteroid-a-Geddon, and Collision Earth: I am getting actors I care about (Eric Roberts, even in a bit, is welcomed!) and the junk science foolishness I expect.

    I don’t mind watching Asylum’s works on SyFy or streaming-with-ads. But to drive to a theatre and lay down 15 bucks for what is, essentially, an Asylum flick? To shell out, what, $9.99 (and I am being generous; you’ll stream at $15.99 to 20.00 in most cases on U.S. platforms), for this?

    No thanks. As with equally goofy Geo-Storm: I’ll wait until it hits commercial TV. No offense, but the money is tight and I have to make better theatre-based watching choices.

    • I hear you, and yes, like Geostorm, this feels more like a knock off of a Hollywood film, except for the expensive effects and cast. Will probably find a keen audience on home viewing…

      • You ever see Moon Trap with Bruce Campbell and Walter Koenig? Almost the same “hollow Moon” concept — but no falling moon. It became an oft UHF-TV run favorite in the U.S. For an against-the-budget production, it’s pretty good (and a little like the Jamie Lee Curtis sci-fi’er, Virus).

        Speaking of the other, the “murder mystery” Moonfall: Charles Band came up with a pretty good one: Oblivion II: Backlash. Maxwell Caulfield is excellent in it: think of it as a western, High Noon in space, if you will.

        I’d have to add about the other Moonfall: I never read the script (I’d love too, though), but for everyone namedropping Fargo, no one ever mentioned Peter Hyman’s great Outland; itself “High Noon” in space. From what I’ve read about it (since it was a ballyhooed Blacklist option), it sounds much like Outland.

  3. I was confused just reading your review, so I can’t imagine I’d fare much better with the actual movie. Sad to see Barry going from such heights as Catwoman to gutter trash like this. It makes me hurt, on the inside….

        • Ahahahahahahaha! Classic!

          Or, as my buddy, Mark, said: “No thanks, I don’t do Jack Black flicks or films with low-rent Jack Black knockoffs (aka, John Bradley).”

            • Yes. He’s a bit much and an acquired taste.

              I’ve seen him in the pretty decent Satanic rock flick, American Satan. Solid, fun flick . . . but after watching the trailer-clips from Moonfall: I can tell you he’s pretty much the same, exact character — at least delivery-wise. (Again, like Jack Black is the same from movie to movie, regardless of the movie. Just Barry Judd from High Fidelity over and over and over and . . .)

              I mention AS because, as you said with Moonfall, you can barely make it through during Bradley’s annoying parts. You cringe. Luckily, his character gets killed off . . . but not soon enough!

              • It’s probably fair to say, however, that not many top stars vary so much as their hairstyle form movie to movie never mind their delivery. In the Bradley vs Black showdown I’m coming to prefer Bradley, he’s less egocentric.

                  • If you’ve not seen GoT he works well there, an interesting character, not just the dumb-shucks he is here, but has to step up to the plate, family-wise and plot-wise.

                    • Whitehall won’t, I don’t believe he ever will, translate to U.S. audiences. Besides, we already have James Corden annoying us with his inane commercial spots. Perhaps if a new coffee maker is invented, Jack can do those spots?

                    • I’d forgotten about Corden. I’d happily digitally erase him. Whitehall, Russel Brand and new pet hate Bradley from cinema history. What is it about lowest common denominator Brit comics that they’re even considered for these roles?

                    • Oh, yeah. Russell Brand, forgot about him. He shined brightly, briefly, in the States. Corden is simply annoying. He couldn’t even play drummer Clem Cattini in Telstar to a degree of reality — in a bit part, mind you — without taking me “out” of the movie.

                • Right, Brian. They’re both personality-based actors. They have a “certain-something” about their personalities that translates on screen — so those actors just go with “that” and memorize their scripts, as opposed to any deep research or exploring any vocal or body language changes.

                  Black has certainly tried to be “different”: Bernie and The Polka King come to mind.

                    • Well, Polka King, because I was previous aware of the subject matter (it’s a bio pic, btw) and interested in the tale, I made it through. But he’s still doing “Jack Black” and not the character he should be: he’s still mugging at the cameras, as is his modus operandi. Fodder for a great story scuttled by an awkward casting.

                      Bernie — and it’s a Richard Linklater flick, btw — I tried, twice, because it’s Linklater. I can’t finish it; it just cringing and painful. It’s a fact-based murder mystery and he’s a mortician . . . and he’s still mugging it as “Jack Black,” to me — taking you out of the story with the same Tenacious D schtick he’s noted for.

                    • Much harder for comedians to do. They burn out quickly. Even Robin Williams and Jim Carrey who tried to expand into drama lost their audience.

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