Much is happening in ‘Moonfall,’ which falls short of the better sci-fi movies that inspired it
Watching “Moonfall” is like watching several movies at the same time.
It’s reminiscent of “Armageddon,” “Deep Impact,” the disaster film “2012,” the sci-fi epic “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Independence Day,” “Contact,” “The Day After Tomorrow” and films about artificial intelligence.
There’s a lot going on.
Earth is threatened when the moon changes its orbit and gets too close for comfort. That means earthquakes, floods and the likely end of the world. (In addition, aliens are up to no good.)
The story begins to soar when the characters meet up at Vandenberg Air Force Base (before the Lompoc area site became a Space Force base).
Overall, “Moonfall” is a fun, good movie with a strong cast, memorable characters, incredible special effects and average dialogue. If you like sci-fi disaster movies, see it, enjoy it, but don’t expect too much from it. “Moonfall” falls short of the better films that inspired it.
By the way, Roland Emmerich directed both “Moonfall” and “Independence Day,” and fans will see similarities between those films. Again, “Independence Day” is a far better movie.
“Moonfall” does have some good moments. Watch for a short but poignant one featuring Donald Sutherland, who has acted in more than 100 movies.
There are plot spoilers ahead, but not too much will be revealed.
“Moonfall” stars Oscar winner Halle Berry and Patrick Wilson as astronauts Jocinda “Jo” Fowler and Brian Harper, who are on a space shuttle mission to repair a satellite when a mysterious force slams into them. Jocinda is knocked unconscious, and Brian, who’s the only survivor who knows what happened, saves them both.
NASA and the government reject Brian’s report of a strange anomaly and attributes the accident to a meteor. Brian leaves the space program, doesn’t have enough money to pay his rent and must deal with his and his ex-wife Brenda Lopez’s (Carolina Bartczak) troubling son, Sonny (Charlie Plummer), as well as his ex-wife’s current husband, Tom Lopez (Michael Peña).
Meanwhile — and the movie has no lack of “meanwhiles” — KC Houseman (John Bradley) is a conspiracy theorist who finds data that the moon is changing its orbit.
The rest of the plot won’t be described here. It boils down to this: Something mysterious is controlling the moon, and people disagree on how to fight that force and stop the moon from destroying Earth.
While the back-and-forth of the plots is jarring, Mr. Emmerich, the film’s director, and his fellow writers Harald Kloser (“The Day After Tomorrow”) and Spenser Cohen (“Extinction”) manage to pull the pieces of this sci-fi puzzle into a coherent picture.
But if there was a little less going on and if some of the dialogue were better written, audiences would get a better chance to learn about the characters and bond with them.
Be sure to pay special attention to KC Houseman. He’s the most intriguing character in a film full of them.