Moonfall (2022) — The moon is a spaceship, why not

“This planet has suffered five extinctions. This is going to be the sixth.”

Justin’s rating: I loved Rolling Stone’s headline — “Is ‘Moonfall’ an Actual Movie, or a Prank That’s Being Played on Audiences?”

Justin’s review: It probably took longer than it should’ve for both Hollywood and movie audiences to restrain Roland Emmerich from pumping out a nonstop stream of overblown, underthought, overlong spectacles. But we haven’t stopped him entirely, because like the shark in Jaws 4, he’s back — and this time it’s personal.

Maybe he figured that this would be the last time anyone would give him over a million bucks to engage in his wacko flights of fancy, because Emmerich jammed every disaster cliché, scifi notion, and unbelievable plot point into a two-plus hour flick. Strap yourself in, friends, because this is Moonfall.

We open with the still-operating space shuttle getting slammed with a mysterious Space Swarm™, which kills an astronaut and activates the moon’s secret engines to send it barreling toward Earth. What? Shush. Yes, the moon has rocket engines, don’t be a fool. If you keep interrupting me, we’ll never get to the end of this review.

Despite the moon being fairly observable, it takes 10 years for anyone notice that our closest space neighbor is creeping closer and closer like the world’s least subtle serial killer. You think someone would’ve noticed, y’know, the tides going nuts or E.T. flying across it on a nightly basis, but nah, it really ends up being the problem area of just three people to solve. Hey, it’s hard to hire more than three people when your budget is a mere $140 million!

Our dream team of C-list heroes are: Brian (Patrick Wilson), washed-up astronaut and a malfunctioning human being; K.C. (John Bradley), a conspiracist impersonator; and Jo (Halle Berry), NASA deputy director and awarded Most Likely To Slum It After Receiving An Academy Award. As they get ready to go back to the moon in a museum-mothballed space shuttle, the world falls apart into rioting and chaos by (checks notes) night one.

Trust me when I say that whatever you assumed was the plot of Moonfall, this movie is going to juke right out of the way of your expectations and veer into complete — pause for effect — LUNAcy.

We find out that the moon isn’t actually the moon as we think of it; it’s actually a hollow, artificially created structure that surrounds what I assume to be the universe’s teeny-tiniest white dwarf star. And it’s full of nanobots. And it was an interstellar ark that’s the focal point of two warring AIs. And the world used to be filled with a completely different advanced technological race. And there have been NASA conspiracies covering this up since the Apollo moon landings.

And… you know what? It’s too much. Movies can go to rather far-fetched lengths, but the nuttier the endgoal gets, the more careful the filmmakers have to be in taking us there. Moonfall has not even the slightest shred of skill to navigate this course. Instead, it puts on the loudest, most gaudy shirt it can, takes off its pants, and runs screaming through the town center hoping that you’ll be entertained by the bizarre sight alone.

Probably my favorite bit of Moonfall trivia is that the film crew hired an actual NASA astronaut to consult, and when he kept objecting to virtually every plot detail as unrealistic, he was told, “It’s a movie, just roll with it.”

There’s no gravitas here, no characters who feel real, no conversations that come off as believable, and no joke that made me laugh. I was agape at how many “emotional” moments were delivered with such a wooden delivery that Pinocchio would applaud. More than that, it’s hard to believe that every disaster setpiece looks far worse than what Emmerich did with Independence Day in 1996, but such is the case here.

Whether Moonfall is a big ball of guilty fun or a steaming pile of stupidity may end up according to your personal tastes (which, despite what the scientists are working on in the Mutant Labs, we cannot deduce long-distance as of yet). It’s easily the dumbest big-budget movie I’ve seen… maybe ever. And I don’t write that lightly. The only way I can envision surviving this viewing experience is with a whole lot of mockery and a lowering of expectations deep into the earth’s crust.

Didja notice?

  • Doing space repairs? Better be listening to Toto’s Africa!
  • Don’t call NASA’s t-shirt and toys division looking for help
  • “What would Elon do?” Probably buy Twitter.
  • Fuzz Aldrin the cat
  • “Megastructurist” isn’t a thing
  • Moon’s going to crash into the planet? Better go up into a mountain for some reason!
  • Did that newscaster just use the phrase “mounting moon terror?” He totally did.
  • Yes who believes NASA could put together a mission to the moon on a 24-hour notice?
  • Well that is one fake-looking tsunami
  • “It’s highly likely our moon was built by aliens.” True dat.
  • The space shuttle is vandalized and then casually moved back to Florida
  • Take a drink every time K.C. says “megastructure.” Congrats, you’re dead.
  • NASA has a spacesuit for the chunky gentleman
  • You can launch a space shuttle with one engine out, no flight crew, and just a scattering of random people.
  • And now the space shuttle is underwater while lifting off
  • Every big budget movie these days has to have a heroic Chinese character to sell well in China
  • Slide rules rule

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