Moonfall (2022) – Film Review
Director: Roland Emmerich
Cast: Patrick Wilson, Halle Berry, John Bradley
By Roger Crow
Where do you begin with a film like Moonfall? Well, safe to say it’s in the running for the most bonkers movie of the year. It’s so insanely enjoyable, you’d think some sort of mind-altering gas had been pumped into the cinema.
John Bradley (of Game of Thrones fame) plays KC Houseman, a Brit boffin whose calculations suggest the Moon is going to smash into the Earth. However, as nobody will listen to his allegedly crackpot theories, he has to rely on Patrick Wilson’s discredited astronaut Brian Harper.
In the prologue, which seems to be a carbon copy of Gravity’s, Brian and fellow astronaut Jo Fowler (Halle Berry) are attacked in or around their space shuttle. Not by debris, but by a mysterious entity which emanates from the Moon. However, as she was knocked unconscious during the attack, and any footage of the event apparently lost, he’s eventually brought back into NASA’s fold when it becomes clear that Earth is doomed unless an Armageddon-style mission is launched.
Remember Armageddon? The movie in which it was easier to train drillers as astronauts rather than vice versa? Well Moonfall makes that film look positively logical by comparison.
The supporting characters include Brian’s son, Sonny, who is involved in a high speed chase with the authorities; a Chinese exchange student who works for Jo, and the latter’s young son.
The ever reliable Michael Peña also pops up in a straight role, and the magnificent Donald Sutherland has a glorified cameo to add valuable exposition.
This all ties together. Eventually.
That’s one of the things about Emmerich movies; they’re soap operas with epic effects. Basically like the Corrie tram crash of 2010. Only with meteorites threatening the protagonists, which would be a vast improvement over some of the recent Street storylines.
Anyway, Brian, Jo and KC blast off in a mothballed shuttle, which only has two engines working, and set off for the moon. Thankfully they just about make it, and manage to refuel at a space station, then go off to blow up the molecular entity which attacked another bunch of astronauts.
With fragments of Moon in danger of ripping through the shuttle at any second, it’s only the power of our goodwill that keeps things moving forward.
I adore the director’s attitude. At so many points in the script, suits might have said “This scene is ridiculous,” or “That would never work”. And Roland just carries on regardless.
That said, there wasn’t a single minute of Moonfall that was dull. Unbelievable, laughable and often hilarious yes, but never dull.
And oh the dialogue. It’s like an episode of Catchphrase for its ‘Say what you see’ clumsiness.
But who cares?
What happens in the third act may be reminiscent of Star Trek: The Motion Picture and The Abyss, but is no less jaw dropping.
Emmerich and the editing team cut things so tight in the final third that there’s never a chance to catch your breath. One minute our orbiting heroes are attempting to stay alive as an entity tries to kill them, the next Wilson’s rebel son (not to be confused with Rebel Wilson) is trying to save the day on Earth.
Oh, and by coincidence, a wintry scene perfectly matched the cinema’s temperature, which was freezing, so wrap up warm.
When he gets things right, like Independence Day and 2012, Roland Emmerich is a master, and while some of the effects here let the side down, it matters little.
Moonfall is the perfect rainy day blues buster with Wilson, Berry and Bradley doing a terrific job of keeping the nonsense grounded where necessary and light when needed. A couple of scenes were also incredibly touching, but a word of advice: please don’t wait for the TV version. See this on a massive screen with great sound, and prepare to be amazed.
It’s epic, insane cinema at its ‘best’.