The master of cinematic destruction is back with another epic world-in-peril film, and it may be my favorite of them all!
Though no one would accuse Roland Emmerich of making high art, what he does do is put a lot of effort and money into making big, entertaining blockbusters in his specific style. And that's what I love about this movie. It doesn't do anything by half measure. The Earth is under attack again—this time by the moon itself! Once its orbit begins to degrade it's only a matter of weeks before collision. Most of the world goes into panic mode, leaving it up to disgraced astronaut Patrick Wilson, his estranged work partner Halle Berry, and a crazy internet conspiracy theorist John Bradley (who turns out to be not-so-crazy, of course) to figure out how to save the day.
|The Moon gets really close to the Earth and it looks cool. What more could you ask for???|
Meanwhile they have family issues to keep the characters grounded in a sort of relatable reality, so the stakes aren't too big for us to bother to care about. Wilson has his delinquent son (Charlie Plummer), ex-wife, and her new husband (Michael Peña!), and Berry has her ex-husband and their daughter—all left behind on earth to witness the catastrophe as the leads go into space to confront the alien problem. We've seen it all before, but I've never seen it work better than under Emmerich's direction. He shows us what we want to see. Or, at least, me. The thing that tickled me the most was how he used real and strange facts about the Moon to build his plot around. Like how it "rang like a bell" when Apollo 12 launched their descent module into it. Though the movie finds fantastic and unlikely reasons for these things, there's a genuine sense of mystery and wonder there.
Visually it was good enough that I now wish I'd bothered to see it on a big screen. The Moon being so close to the Earth of course provides a stunning visual. Elsewhere green screens are incredibly obvious. But elsewhere again, the alien design and space scenes have an obvious budget and effort put in. The family drama is fairly scant and cliché, but that's not to say bad, and one or two scenes and some dedicated line delivery from solid actors is all it needs to stick. Patrick Wilson was great casting and really sells the whole story. Then there's the general destruction. My least favorite part of disaster movies, funnily enough. There are a few interesting situations for the characters to navigate, plus plenty of floods, crumbling buildings, and those scenes where someone's using a white board to illustrate what horrors will occur next. It's really classic stuff.
|I'm trying and failing to think of a way this movie could have been more enjoyable for me.|
And I guess that's why I got such a big kick out of it. It's classic. Not highbrow, but doesn't talk down to its audience either. It doesn't even bother to preach on woke topics, it just gleefully focuses on all it's cool ideas, with a sweet if small family-oriented center, and in that vein, does its own thing, and does it well. I know a lot of people are down on it, but I for one am not ready for the fun to be sapped out of all our movies. Completely uncynical, involving space, and family, and sacrificial love, cool in concept and awesome to look at—MOONFALL hits the spot and checks all the boxes for what I've been craving. Maybe it was made for me alone, but either way I can't help but give it an enthusiastic recommendation!