Moonfall pulls no punches in the epic thrill ride as the world depends on two astronauts and a conspiracy theorist to save the day.
I love a good disaster thriller. Sure, they might not be nominated or win any Oscars but that doesn’t stop them being being fun. In January alone, I rewatched both The Day After Tomorrow and 2012. I rewatch Independence Day every few years although my July 4th choices tend to be the National Treasure franchise. One general trend in watching these Roland Emmerich thrillers is that Los Angeles cannot catch a break. Not in 2004, 2009, or 2022. It isn’t just Los Angeles that finds itself on the brink but the entire globe. If the global leaders do not get their act together and put a plan into works quickly, it’ll spell doom for the planet. With a name like Moonfall, you already know what’s going to happen and this film gives us everything it promises.
This is a film that teams up a washed-up astronaut that nobody bothers listening to, the Deputy Director of NASA, and a megastructure conspiracy theorist. On the outside looking in, it’s probably a recipe for disaster. But as fate would have it, these three are the very people that are planet depends on to save the day. We don’t just focus on them but their families on the ground as the clock is ticking.
Back in 2011, astronauts Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson) and Jocinda “Jo” Fowler (Halle Berry) were on a routine shuttle repair mission. Something happened and one of their fellow crew members died. NASA shrugged it off and performed a cover-up. Harper lost everything–his house, his family, his job. Fowler made her way up to Deputy Director. Eleven years later, conspiracy theorist K.C. Houseman (John Bradley) makes a big discovery: the moon is off orbit. NASA makes the same discovery but Houseman leaking it online forces their hand. What was estimated as three months to prepare turns into a matter of weeks to get a plan in motion. Easier said than done after one crew ends up being attacked and dies. There’s something about electronics that draws out whatever is hiding within the moon.
It’s up to Brian to save the day. He’ll only do it if they can break his son, Sonny (Charlie Plummer), out of jail. Of course, once things speed up, Jo and K.C. have no choice but to join the crew. They’re low on time but humanity’s fate is up to them. With the other crew lost, they’ve got to find a ship and stat! It’s just their luck that the Space Shuttle Endeavour is conveniently located in Los Angeles, California.
Sonny has to step it up, too. When the Space Shuttle Endeavour lifts off, he takes it upon himself to drive Michelle (Kelly Yu) and Jocinda’s son, Jimmy (Zayn Maloney), from the Vandenberg Air Force Base to the Colorado bunker. Fowler’s ex-husband, General Doug Davidson (Eme Ikwuakor), is at the bunker. Sonny never forgave his mother, Brenda Lopez (Carolina Bartczak), for leaving Brian and starting a new life with Tom Lopez (Michael Peña).
Roland Emmerich, Harald Kloser, and Spenser Cohen craft a compelling screenplay. They take what we love about sci-fi and disaster movies while adding some mystery to the moon. What if the moon is not what we think it is? They talk with scientists to make sure the science is as believable as possible. NASA also contributes quite a bit in the film, too, including rockets that we see on screen. It would not work without characters we can relate to. One theme to note in every disaster thriller is family being at the core. It is no different in this film.
We can’t discuss this film without discussing the Apollo 11 Moon Landing. What happened during the two minutes of radio silence on July 20, 1969? This is where a NASA employee, Holdenfield (Donald Sutherland), comes into play. It plays a bigger role in the film than we’d think. Familiar with a Dyson Sphere? You will be! Moonquakes work differently than earthquakes but the film supposes that the moon is a hollow object.
Any film that finds a way to reference the Jurassic Park franchise is always going to find favor in my eyes. In this case, it’s a line from The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Obviously, the line isn’t about Dr. Sarah Harding but it’s such a fun throwback coming almost 25 years to the date.
My Moonfall screening was initially scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. However, Winter Storm Landon had other ideas in mind so my review is appearing well after I’d like. Disaster thrillers don’t need to always get the science right but Moonfall is a solid popcorn movie that I can’t wait to watch again and again.
DIRECTOR: Roland Emmerich
SCREENWRITERS: Roland Emmerich & Harald Kloser & Spenser Cohen
CAST: Halle Berry, Patrick Wilson, John Bradley, Michael Peña, Charlie Plummer, Kelly Yu, Carolina Bartczak, Eme Ikwuakor, and Donald Sutherland
Lionsgate will release Moonfall in theaters on February 4, 2022.
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