Moonfall is a throwback to disaster movies of the late 90s but doesn’t quite capture the magic of the classics from that era
Moonfall sees the return of one of the cinematic masters of ‘end of world’ disasters Roland Emmerich, bringing with him a new threat to humanity and a few scoops of family drama. The director aims to relive past successes within the genre and attempts to take us on an incredible ride while facing pending doom. These grand ambitions don’t quite come together, and the film ends up being a mish mash of disaster movies which have come before. Albeit one with a third act that could be described as a little bit out there!
‘Moonfall’ stars Halle Berry as Jocinda Fowler, part of an elite crew of astronauts who led a mission to the moon which ended in tragedy. Patrick Wilson is Brian Harper, the onetime hero astronaut who is vilified for the tragedy and while Jo’s career takes off following their return to earth, Brian’s life takes a nosedive. We find him 11yrs later divorced, estranged from his son and unable to pay his rent.
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Emmerich does his best to do some basic character development, giving us an insight into each character and their motivations but he knows that’s not what people are here for. He races through these building blocks and certainly doesn’t make us wait long before things start to fall to pieces.
John Bradley (Game of Thrones) is Dr KC Houseman, a conspiracy theorist who serves, as both comic relief and genius scientist no one believes until it’s too late. He is one of a number of tropes within the genre that we see recycled here to varying levels of success. It’s all a bit of a clumsy set up but when these three leads come together, their interactions are the crux of the film and provide plenty of heart. Brian and KC’s relationship harks back to Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum in Emmerich’s Independence Day.
Neither of these actors could possibly match the charm and quirk of Smith and Goldblum but they are still a lot of fun to watch. By the time Halle Berry is added to the team, I had flashes of the mega successful movie trio from last month’s Spider Man: No Way Home (Peter Parker, MJ & Ned). A male all action hero, a smart lady and a ‘round’ guy for comic relief, who turns out to have special useful skills!
The movie It is held together by likable performances from its three leads who manage to navigate the occasionally silly proceedings with a level of honesty, humidity, and humour. Even the tensest moments are defused by a soft wise crack or side eye glance which let us know it will all be alright in the end. Michael Pena and Donald Sutherland don’t play as big a part as you would expect from names like theirs, but their contributions are satisfactory.
Moonfall feels like a throwback to the disaster movies of the late 90s/early 2000s. The scope is grand, the special effects are hit and miss which in turn left some of the performances feeling uneven. The film begins with an interesting concept and the initial plot seems plausible enough, but it soon descends into a weird mish mash of secret conspiracies, men in black suits in dark corridors, government cover ups and a third act that introduces a ‘twist’ that if I’m honest I certainly wasn’t expecting!
The film is unlikely to go down as a classic of the genre but despite its flaws, plot holes and occasional wackiness, it still manages to be entertaining. Set your expectations to ‘average’, grab some friends, popcorn and hold on for a wild space ride which is anything but boring
Moonfall is out now in Theatres