Last year, Adam McKay released Don’t Look Up, a disaster comedy film about a comet heading towards Earth. The focus however was not on the impending doom of civilisation but the satirical political and social commentary to such a disaster. So you may be wondering why I’m bringing up another film and not Moonfall? Well did you ever think that Don’t Look Up needed to get rid of the commentary and fill it with a million side stories, overcomplicate the comet and every science-fiction cliché makes an appearance without rhyme or reason? Welcome to Moonfall.
This film has one promise it has to fulfil to its audience, have the Moon fall. I mean the clue is in the name. and when the Moon is falling, you are at least treated to visual imagery that would make pretty good desktop wallpapers. I’ll give credit where credit is due to Roland Emmerich, although he has lost a lot of what made him a household name, he’s never lost his touch on coming up with imaginative destruction. They are all very large-scaled and shot from extreme long shots, and by giving you more to see you have a bigger understanding of how destructive this threat is. Although I will say, the CGI Moon breaking apart is a much more impressive spectacle than CGI tidal waves.
But a disaster is only as good as what’s at stake, and you would think that the Moon falling to earth would be a high-stake situation. But Moonfall has so many other stories that are happening with characters who you could not care less about, you see the Moon causing destruction, but you don’t feel the destruction. Any filmmaker can put characters in an end of the world story, but if you don’t nail down the threat of such an event, it leaves room for a relaxing story that has its door open to all sorts of elements that come out of nowhere. The script honestly feels like the writers wrote down every Science Fiction cliché on paper and drew the paper out of a hat whenever they got stuck. The final third of the film is so jampacked with typical Sci-fi elements, it overcomplicated a simple story of the Moon crashing to Earth. This is something Roland Emmerich does all the time; he overcomplicates things because he believes that’s how you make something impressive. Moonfall is not a contest about how many threats you can cram into your story, one big threat is enough.
Although Roland Emmerich isn’t low on ideas for destruction, he is low on ideas for original characters. I can’t believe he’s got away with creating the same characters over and over in every film he does. One such character is the nutty, conspiracy theorist who’s right about everything K.C. Houseman (John Bradley), he’s supposedly the comic relief of the film, but laughing at a funny line of dialogue in this film is like laughing and then being disappointed in yourself, because instead of the genuine funny route, Moonfall goes the stupid funny route. You’ve got the disgraced, former astronaut Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson) who has issues with his estranged son Sonny (Charlie Plummer) and Jo Fowler (Halle Berry) a NASA administrator who has to recruit Brian to help her stop the Moon. Honestly, none of these actors embraced their roles and you could just as easily shuffle the cast with different actors, John Bradley seems to be the one who put the most effort into the purpose of his character, but even he could be switched.
Essentially Moonfall is a film where the filmmakers expect you to be silent, not ask questions and to just accept whatever comes your way. Now I abhor this attitude filmmakers have. When they overcomplicate something and we start asking questions about its justification, it makes us feel like we’re the dumb ones here. Moonfall makes me feel the same way and if you’re not going to respect the intelligence of your audience, how do you expect them to respect the film you’ve made?
I came to recognise something after witnessing the utter stupidity that is Moonfall. Some of the most recognisable directors have fans of course, but some have a group. A group of people that they appeal to. You may have seen people refer to directors as “the ____ filmmaker”, well in my view, Roland Emmerich is the conspiracy theorist’s filmmaker. Think about his career, he takes whatever conspiracy theory piques his interest and make a film where they become correct. 2012, The Day After Tomorrow, even his non-disaster films like Anonymous have some conspiracy theories in them. But the problem is that when you explore the fictional reality of a conspiracy theory, you arrive at the same conclusion, they’re thoughtless and too ridiculous to believe.
Roland Emmerich cannot stick to one path, he has to branch out into all of these other places the film doesn’t need to go, which is essentially the downfall of this film. Moonfall is embarrassingly overcomplicated, and it’s so determined to make a simple premise bigger than it needs to be, it forgets to be cohesive. With so many elements flying at you left and right and not enough time to take it all in, Moonfall is a complete mess of a film.
Final Result: 2/10 – Very Poor
Have you seen Moonfall? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: Uncharted