While on a routine Space Shuttle mission in 2011, NASA astronauts Jocinda Fowl and Brian Harper experience a disaster that kills one of their crewmembers and disables their spacecraft. Amidst the chaos, Harper is the only one to see the cause – a strange alien cloud. After destroying their shuttle, the alien entity heads for the moon and buries itself within a crater.
Upon returning to Earth, Harper is initially hailed as a hero for brinGing the survivors home safely. But soon enough his story about an alien encounter is questioned and dismissed as “human error.”.Harper leaves NASA in disgrace and disgust.
Ten years later, rogue scientist KC Houseman discovers a frightening revelation. The moon’s orbit is changing and putting it on a collision course directly with Earth. Facing the possible destruction of the planet and the extinction of humanity, KC tries to raise the alarm. But NASA dismisses his claims yet again.
KC turns to the one man that may listen to him – former astronaut Brian Harper. But as they soon discover, the descent of the moon and Harper’s alien encounter a decade earlier are definitely connected.
Watching Roland Emmerich movies is a lot like going to McDonald’s. It’s not high-quality cinema, but every once in a while it’s what you’re looking for and it hits the spot when you decide so. That’s the case with Moonfall. It’s big, loud, and often stupid, but I was in the mood for a big, loud, stupid sci-fi disaster movie and it delivered.
Moonfall is kind of a combination of Armageddon and Rendezvous with Rama. It is one part disaster porn where we are treated to amazing scenes of massive tidal waves striking cities, hundreds of meteors striking the Earth, and gravity being upended. The other part is a slightly different take on the alien encounter genre.
The moon holds a secret that is slowly revealed through the course of the story and ultimately culminates in spaceship chases, laser battles, and alien close encounters that are fun to watch. The blending of the disaster and sci-fi genres works well here. Not as great as Independence Day, but well enough.
A large part of what makes Moonfall work is the cast. Patrick Wilson sells the ridiculous concept for all he’s worth as astronaut Brian Harper. He has to deliver some pretty cheesy lines and spout a lot of exposition, but he does so with enough apparent enthusiasm that the audience goes with it.
John Bradley brings most of the comic relief as KC Houseman. He could easily be an unlikable character, but he grows on you as the story progresses.
You don’t go into a movie like Moonfall without shutting down the portion of your brain that overanalyzes the science portrayed in movies, but even this film pushes the limits at times. Everything from the alien cover-up story to the logistics of launching a space shuttle are rather unrealistic.
Then some of the character interactions and reactions to the impending doom seem a little unrealistic as well. If you have to shut down your brain any more, you may fall asleep watching this.
As good as some of the cast are, some of the performances are a little flat. Eme Ikwuakor does not come across well as Doug Davidson. His character does not feel well paired with Jocinda Fowl.
A supporting performance by Michael Peña is welcomed but he feels very underutilized here. Donald Sutherland also makes a brief cameo as Holdenfield in order to deliver some vital backstory, but then he’s rather quickly dismissed.
Wenwen Yu feels shoehorned in as Michelle, the Nanny / Exchange Student taking care of Jocinda Fowl’s son. She seems placed into cast to satisfy Chinese investors in Moonfall.
A few minor notes – there is no after credits scene here. Marvel has us trained too well. And with a running time of two hours, you definitely start feeling like it has overstayed its welcome by the end.
If you liked Roland Emmerich’s previous films, then you’re a prime candidate to enjoy Moonfall. It’s for anyone that enjoys disaster flicks and anyone that enjoys sci-fi. And if you’ve been missing the theater due to the pandemic, this is a movie that will justify seeing it on the big screen.
MOONFALL REVIEW SCORE: 6 OUT OF 10
Opening in theaters on Friday, February 4, Lionsgate‘s Moonfall is rated PG-13 for violence, disaster action, strong language, and some drug use.