MOONFALL is a Delightfully Dumb Good Time

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2022. In theatres February 4th.

Directed by Roland Emmerich

Written by Roland Emmerich, Spenser Cohen, and Harald Kloser

Starring Patrick Wilson, Halle Berry, John Bradley, Michael Pena, Charlie Plummer, Donald Sutherland

It’s a well-worn joke about Roland Emmerich’s work. Big, loud, destruction porn.

That doesn’t mean they are all the same.

How these films work is fully determined by how deep the tongue is in the cheek. Stargate and Independence Day have an awareness, still well-regarded and hitting the mark. Godzilla and 2012 try for more straightforward albeit with humor and are painful sits.

Luckily Moonfall is the former. I mean, it’s Patrick Wilson punching the moon in its stupid freakin’ face. What do you expect?

It’s utterly ridiculous, and I loved it.

It has just what you’d want for a bombastic overblown action sci-fi flick from Roland Emmerich.

An absolutely insane premise of the moon coming off orbit thanks to an extraterrestrial threat causing floods and asteroid destruction on Earth and a plucky set of astronauts setting off to fight the moon before it destroys us all (with concepts wholesale ripped off from genre masters Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, and Larry Niven).

Actors delivering and/or yelling their lines with just the right tone so the inane dialogue and technobabble doesn’t sound TOO silly.  

A hero by way of a disgraced astronaut (Wilson), who is estranged from his son (Plummer), and has an ex-wife remarried to a guy (Pena)he doesn’t get along with? He gets to shout “I’m doing this to SAVE THE WORLD” though locked jaw and gritted teeth and be tough, but likable.

An earnest co-pilot (Berry) with a precocious 8-year-old who says exactly what needs to be said to give the next realization, who gets to say things like “I serve the PEOPLE” and “They are going to NUKE the moon”, sometimes to the cowardly chain of command.

A crackpot scientist (Bradley) who sees what is happening before anyone else but isn’t believed until he meets the above? Who gets to say things like MEGASTRUCTURE a hundred times with a straight face, and doesn’t really fit in with the military folds he’s now in, but has the ability to immediately solve complex math and science stuff with the merest glance?

A cameo by an accomplished actor (Sutherland) ready to drop conspiracy exposition, summing up what they told us already for those catching up, for a single scene.

A stuffed shirt military who prove to be hard heads with itchy trigger fingers ready to take the exactly wrong action.

Quirky side characters to bounce exposition, have a laugh, or a quick action-beat who get taken out in either over-the-top silly or so off-handedly you don’t’ know if they’re dead ways? Okay, they aren’t so quirky in this one so half a checkmark.

People suddenly know the information they have no way of having access to for the sake of explaining what’s going on or getting to the next setup, often with repeated inane technobabble and buzz words.

The movement of the moon, looming over the horizon with a BRAHAMM score of a villain appearing, setting up action sequences that wildly make not a lick of sense but a pure joy, thanks to perfectly timed things like gravity waves.

Does all this move at a cheetah’s pace for the full 2 hours five minutes because if slows down for even a second your brain will turn back on and turn against the movie? Damn right it does.

Moonfall is exactly what you’d expect it to be. Big. Loud. Dumb. And, yes – Fun. It has exciting action scenes, perfectly chosen actors and performances for the film, and a sense of sheer “oh what the hell, no one is going to take this seriously, throw it all at the moon and see what sticks” bravado. Everyone involved knows how silly it is, but they do it justice by playing it straight or at least straight enough.

The way I see it, there are three reactions to Moonfall upon finding out about it. 1) You were never going to see this in any way shape or form. 2) You say “this looks so insanely stupid I have to see it, no matter any review. Or 3) “this could be dumb fun, or this could be hell to sit through, I’m going to wait to see what people say” If you’re an on the fencer, this is me telling you to check it out if you have the time to see something on the big screen and have already seen Scream and Spider-Man.

Funny to me to see two Emmerich movies theatrically in two months. Last month, I saw his early feature Making Contact as part of the new tour of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and now Moonfall, ripe for a Riffrax (even if it is self-aware)

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