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Moonfall (2022)::rating::2.5::rating::2.5

Moonfall dwells in a weird limbo of mediocrity.  I wish the script could’ve been a notch smarter, or else ten times dumber.  The special effects might’ve been sharpened up a bit, or rendered hilariously incompetent.  This talented cast could’ve been given some, you know, decent dialogue.  Otherwise, they should’ve just farmed these roles out to Ian Ziering and a few burnouts from Melrose Place.  Maybe this movie needed a few Sharknados…or maybe not.  In any case, I don’t like where Moonfall settles.  Despite a ridiculously campy premise, this massive production works just hard enough not to get fired.

That premise actually sounds more stupid than it plays onscreen:  As the movie begins, a space shuttle disaster leads to one astronaut dead, another disgraced, and a third with lasting emotional scars.  Cut to ten years later, and the survivors have landed in awkward places.  Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson), the mission’s fall guy, lives adrift from his ex-wife (Carolina Bartczak) and delinquent teenage son (Charlie Plummer).  Jo Fowler (Halle Berry), has ascended to become the deputy director of NASA.  She and Harper were once work spouses, but the tragedy has estranged them.  Harper is certain that something mysterious happened during the disaster, but no one will listen to him.  Could there be a massive cover-up?

Ask K.C. Houseman (John Bradley), and the answer is a resounding “yes.”  K.C. is a wacky, fumbling conspiracy theorist who calls himself a doctor and works the drive-thru at a pastrami shop.  He tries to tell anyone who’ll listen that the big glowing ball we see in the night sky isn’t a moon–it’s a space station.  More specifically, it’s a Dyson Sphere.  Or, for you non-nerds out there, a constructed object with a fully-functioning civilization inside.  A tiny star burns at its center, providing all the power any inhabitants could ever need.  The Dyson Sphere has popped up in a quite a few sci-fi stories.  K.C. quickly deduces this one is the real deal.

Of course, K.C. is dismissed as a jabbering kook.  But, wouldn’t ya know it–the moon starts shifting its orbit.  Pretty soon, that big ol’ monochromatic ball is gonna smash into the Earth.  Suddenly, K.C. is the world’s most essential expert, and Harper and Fowler must get him to mission control immediately. As the world descends into chaos, our heroes formulate a plan to repel the moon and deal with the writhing monsters inside it.

That last sentence might be the weirdest thing I’ve ever typed.  So yeah, this movie is undeniably dumb.  It just needs that extra gear of stupidity.  I’m talking monstrous squids and wooden acting.  Maybe even a soundtrack that sounds like it’s being played by a cat on a Casio keyboard.  But noooo, the filmmakers want to hedge their bets with marquee actors and competent special effects. Well, you can’t have it both ways.  They should’ve put Howie Long and Heather Locklear in the middle of this stink patch and called it a day.  Director Roland Emmerich also helmed the gloriously idiotic Independence Day, for Pete’s sake.  If he doesn’t know how to churn out overblown claptrap, there’s not much hope for any of us.

With my rant completed, I’ll contradict myself a smidge:  You might still enjoy Moonfall enough to give it a shot.  I giggled at a few of the tropes as they traipsed across the screen.  That goes especially for the obligatory war room of admirals and generals as they clench their jaws and scowl at big computer screens.  (I swear they use the same dozen actors to play these guys in every movie.)  Still, the occasional cheeseball lines are only a tease for the wonderful mess this movie could’ve been.  Moonfall could’ve reached the stars, if only the filmmakers had aimed for the gutter.

130 min.  On demand.  ( <<– And at 2+ hours, this movie is wayyy too long.  At 100 minutes, you might not have had enough time to process how bad this is.)

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