Master of Disaster Roland Emmerich certainly loves ancient alien theory, and I believe Stargate (1994) helped cement his status in this subgenre. He’s been to space and back with Moon 44, but that wasn’t the movie which started it all. He’s better known for Independence Day and in that regard, Moonfall is familiar.
This movie is hilarious to watch because we know the tropes he loves using, and he regurgitates those ideas well. This filmmaker introduces Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson), an astronaut who gets canned because he failed in one mission. His peers don’t believe he saw a swarm of cosmic mist that caused his crewmates to die. He’s somewhat similar to Steven Hiller–Will Smith’s character.
On Earth, K.C. Houseman (John Bradley) is a conspiracy geek who uncovers the truth and is much like David (Jeff Goldblum’s character). This actor is good in the role, but I suspect casting wanted Jack Black. He’d be great at injecting some craziness to why nobody buys into what he discovered. The sky is falling! The moon is coming out of orbit and will soon cause world-wide devastation.
In America, everyone is panicking and NASA plans on detonating a huge bomb to send the lunar object back to where it should belong. While the White House is preparing for the end of days, Agent “Jo” Fowler (Halle Berry) is the only individual trying to keep everyone sane. In what makes this film chaotic is the story about the family this motly gang of saviors are trying to help shelter. Not all of them can make it to a central point.
The logistics behind this film are over the top and silly, and while that defines this director’s style, there’s logistical problems with the narrative. When the moon is about to crash onto a planet, there’s no place safe! Not even the best built bunker can hold up and as for whether taking to the mountains is a good idea, won’t they be the first to get destroyed?
My issue with this movie is that mankind isn’t all that creative these days when trying to save themselves from destruction. I have yet to see a film that considers creating rockets or a huge spaceship with a huge tow cable (in our current technological capability) to pull things away. Humanity’s solution is to blow it up, or in this movie’s case, use an EMP device to knock whatever is pushing the moon to the Earth towards a different direction.
In what we know about this latest cosmic threat, they are some kind of force, perhaps akin to Venom’s species, out to invade the entire universe. There is a terrific backstory which tells all–which UFO enthusiasts will eat up. The ideas Roland came up with turns the entire movie into a cautionary tale and its a point not many will heed or take note of. The tease at the start didn’t get enough continuing exposition, and all the reveals get lumped into a huge third act reveal. In comparison, Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise did a better job of injecting ideas about how robots in disguise lurked in human history throughout the film. Thankfully, there’s closure for KC, which won’t be spoiled.
As for whether this storyteller can get part two and three made, as revealed in a recent interview on The Hollywood Reporter, it’s most likely not going to happen. He should’ve pitched this work as an animated series instead. It’d stand a better chance to hang around.