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The Nerd Side Of Life

“Moonfall” is Bloated, Ridiculous for all the Wrong Reasons [Review]

When I first saw Roland Emmerich was at it again, ready to hurl the moon at earth, I rolled my eyes hard. Then, after days of Sundance screenings, “Moonfall” became exactly the kind of mindless entertainment I needed to recharge. I legitimately could not wait to sit back, shovel popcorn into my mouth like a gorilla, and let the silliness and explosions waft over me for a bit.

What actually ends up happening is a collection of Emmerich’s greatest hits clashed together in a convoluted, uninteresting, and rather dull movie going experience. There’s like 8 different movies happening here, and none of them are the movie I paid to see. It’s part family drama, part disaster flick, sci-fi fantasy, conspiracy theory, and a little bit of everything else he’s every done all rolled into one.

Moonfall” is one of the most confusing films I’ve seen in a long time, with a third act that is so far out of left field it feels like it was an abandoned treatment for “Independence Day: Resurgence” that got dusted off and slapped on to whatever the fuck this was suppose to be.

By this point, you should already know what to expect from Roland Emmerich, who writes and directs “Moonfall.” Scientists discover an impending disaster, a genius who’s been ignored for his wild theories ends up being right, our small band of heroes become the world’s only hope while their families get left behind to out run tsunamis and falling buildings all while the military wants to nuke whatever they don’t understand. It is without a doubt a reskin of everything that came before it, and truthfully if that’s all it was I would’ve been completely on board. But Emmerich seems incapable or unwilling to admit that this is what he does best, and he seems defiantly refusing to embrace his own ridiculousness.

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Lionsgate

There’s an air of smugness that surrounds “Moonfall,” and it seems to think it’s better and more impactful than it actually is. It constantly falls victim to thinking its more important than it is, and desperately wants to be more than the sum of its parts. It’s not, and this then draws attention to all of its narrative flaws instead of embracing them. Emmerich also seems to have never heard of editing or cutting room floors, purposefully choosing to bloat “Moonfall” with so many subplots and useless characters it becomes impossible to enjoy any of them. He seems to think that character development is only found in two places: divorced parents with children and including as many characters as possible. It’s like any idea he’s ever had, whether it’s relevant or not makes it into the final cut, leaving absolutely nothing out and creating a cacophony of confusion and convoluted storytelling.

This may be too bold and unfair to say, and I may end up taking it back once I finally have some time to unpack whatever “Moonfall” is supposed to be. But Emmerich may just be the American Uwe Bol, making films for tax loopholes and calling in tons of favors from countless famous people. I simply can’t imagine any other circumstance as to how he is able to procure an insane amount of money to make these kinds of films over and over again, and there’s no possible way Donald Sutherland read the script for “Moonfall” and went, “ya, I NEED to be a part of this project.”

Lionsgate

The thing is, if “Moonfall” just embraced its absurdity and trimmed the fat, it would be the exact kind of mind numbing disaster flick I craved. At its most basic level, it has all of that potential just waiting to be pushed to the forefront. Instead, we get an overload of narrative filler that forces all of our characters to just meander about from room to room and place to place without any real sense of urgency. Oh, and time and distance don’t matter in “Moonfall.” Two days, a few hours, 3 weeks; it’s all the same here because no one actually moves or acts as if the moon isn’t hurling towards Earth even as they are literally standing in the remnants of that very destruction.

Look, I’m not one to call out this kind of film for ignoring actual time and space to move the plot along. But “Moonfall” creates a lot of its own mistakes by making it a point to include them and draw attention to them, which in turn makes them stick out like a sore thumb and impossible to ignore. A narrative loophole is to simply ignore it altogether. Things happen how they happen and the only concept of time that we ever need is that it’s running out. But no, “Moonfall” is dead set on constantly providing time stamps for just about everything, with characters going out of their way to reference how many days, hours, weeks etc they have. If THEY have to talk about it, I as a viewer have to address it, and now I have wrestle with accidental time travel to try and make sense of it all.

Lionsgate

“Moonfall” would work better if everyone involved just admitted and accepted that they’re making “Moonfall.” They don’t, and I’m convinced that Patrick Wilson, Halle Berry and John Bradley all think they’re in different films despite spending a majority of their screen time together. And don’t even get me started as to why the hell Kelly Yu and Michael Pena are in this thing. You could pretty much cut out every single person sans the big three and the film would carry on exactly the same way. This only adds to the frustration because we spend an inordinate amount of time with characters that simply don’t matter.

I don’t need “Moonfall” to be better. That’s not what I wanted from it. I need it to be bad for the right reasons and not the wrong ones, and its packed to the brim with all of the wrong things that make it more of confusing slog than a fun, silly b-movie. And don’t even get me started on the third act. It’s usually easy to predict how these things will all play out, and Emerich throws a curve ball so hard and far it makes the moon changing orbit feel normal. Within seconds, we are transported into a completely different movie that nullifies everything that came before it, and only adds to the immense confusion in the worst of ways. My head hurts trying to figure it all out, and it only gets worse the more I try.

Lionsgate

I really wanted to like “Moonfall.” I’m not be facetious, either. I genuinely wanted to be swept away by the sheer preposterous premise of the Moon being hurled towards earth because of aliens or whatever. I needed it, and it somehow failed to deliver the most simple of asks from a film like this. There’s a decent movie in here somewhere, but you have to sift through all of the other films within this one to find it. Frankly, it’s not worth the effort.

I’m not saying we need to stop making disaster movies, I’m just saying we need to stop giving Emmerich money to make them. And no, Mr. Emmerich. Marvel Studios, DC via WB, and Star Wars are not the reason “Moonfall” isn’t going to gross a billion dollars at the box office, Roland. Take responsibility and own your schlock or stop making it and let others make better versions of the same movie you’ve been making for 20+ years.

This movie isn’t fun. It’s upsetting and confusing and boring, and that actually makes it more upsetting and confusing the longer I dwell on my disappointment.

Lionsgate

Oh, and “Moonfall” is brought to you by Lexus. Buy yours and outrun gravity fields today!

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 Stars

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