"I'm going to get you home."
Attempting to ignite the adrenaline and excitement he created with Independence Day, 2012, and The Day After Tomorrow, Roland Emmerich has conjured up a sci-fi/disaster film that begs to be taken seriously. Boasting many of the same elements of the aforementioned titles, Moonfall bears the star power and high stakes action sequences to appease many. But its execution turns its dynamic premise into a colossal mess, leaving audiences scratching their head as they attempt to process it all.
A prologue introduces us to our primary players, astronauts Jo (Halle Berry) and Brian (Patrick Wilson). The two are on a mission, bantering like an aged married couple when a dark, obscure mass attacks them. The aggression sends their colleague into perpetual orbit, leaving the two to figure out a safe return to Earth.
Fast forward a decade and Brian is somehow blamed for the event. Publicly humiliated, he is no longer affiliated with NASA and had a falling out with Jo, who has risen in the ranks. The situation has had a substantial impact on Brian's personal life, evident as his now ex-wife has remarried, and his son (Charlie Plummer) has just been arrested on drug charges after a high-speed chase with law enforcement.
If this all sounds like a lot, trust me, it is. In typical Emmerich fashion, too much is happening to consciously allow each character to breathe and react. In what is easily three or four separate films crammed into a single, two-hour narrative, the film seems much longer than it is.
All this without having mentioned K.C. Houseman (played by John Bradley). The quirky and, at times, annoying conspiracy theorist works as a university janitor, impersonating a professor to gain access to a report that confirms the Moon's orbit is shifting, bringing disastrous implications to those inhabiting Earth.
It takes too long for Jo and Brian to join forces to prevent the catastrophic event. A spur-of-the-moment rocket launch sends them into space to save the world (and for K.C., make his dementia-addled mother proud). But their dialogue, encased with clichés and tropes, is painful.
Utilizing a retired rocket with a busted engine amid an unexpected though not entirely surprising gravity wave, the film, assuming there was any plausibility thus far, reaches to the far corners of the universe during its third act. The Moon, an apparent "megastructure," sits on the horizon, zapping the air of its oxygen as it brings a wave of gravitational havoc to the planet.
As if a mission to save Earth from mass extinction wasn't enough, Sonny is scurrying around Colorado, attempting to outmaneuver criminals in a conveniently mentioned Lexus as he searches desperately for safety. Snowy terrain aside, the segment utilizes the lack of gravity to a laughable degree, mitigating the special effects (miniatures anyone?) as they appear draped in absurdity and ridiculousness.
Maybe this would have been excusable if the final moments seemed worthy of the buildup. The overly complex conclusion that showcases an alien race that uses our inner conscious to communicate is laughable. It's a far stretch, even for Emmerich.