By Ben Konuch
“This planet has suffered five extinctions. This is going to be the sixth.”
“Moonfall”, the newest disaster movie from Roland Emmerich, finds itself in an interesting conundrum. Part disaster epic, part sci-fi thriller, “Moonfall” can’t quite fit fully into a specific genre, but it does manage to craft a unique identity against the crowded library of the disaster movie genre. While the film does have uneven pacing in the first act and the main twist at the end will leave audiences divided, “Moonfall” can’t quite prove itself to be great, but definitely remains an entertaining if slightly uneven ride.
“Moonfall” stars Patrick Wilson as Brian Harper, a former astronaut who lost his job after witnessing a bizarre and inexplicable incident in space that put his entire mission in danger. Though Harper was able to save part of his team, NASA refutes all of his claims and blames the disaster and the loss of one of his fellow astronauts on him. Years later, conspiracy theorist KC Houseman (John Bradley) discovers a horrific truth: the moon has changed its orbit and is now hurtling at a collision course with earth. As the disastrous repercussions of the moon’s collision ignites chaos across the planet, a connection surfaces between what happened to Harper all those years ago and what is happening with the moon. With all-out extinction looming on the horizon, Harper has to embark on a final desperate mission to save the planet and discover the mystery of the moon with Houseman and his former astronaut partner Jo Fowler (Halle Berry).
Twistedly-beautiful scenes of destruction make ‘Moonfall’ hauntingly beautiful and worthy of an IMAX viewing.
The first act of the film is by far the most uneven, with character introductions feeling rushed and a bit awkward. Houseman especially feels annoying and very fake, which does the film a great disservice seeing as his character serves as the main catalyst of the plot. Berry and Wilson both shine as Harper and Fowler respectively, and the conflict between them as a result of how NASA ruined one and blessed the other is extremely interesting to watch. It’s unfortunate then that they don’t reunite until a good twenty minutes into the film, making the first part of “Moonfall” feel like disjointed, disconnected plotlines that don’t fit together the way they should.
By the time Harper, Fowler, and Houseman join up in order to execute their plan to go into space and solve the mystery of the moon,“Moonfall” really picks up. The plot fits together smoothly like puzzle pieces and the wonderful spectacle of jaw-dropping calamities raises the stakes and tensions of the film and creates a wonderful split-narrative. “Moonfall” follows Harper, Fowler and Houseman as they journey into space, but we also get to see Harper’s son Sonny struggle to get Fowler’s son to safety along with the son’s caretaker, Michele. This is how “Moonfall” mainly balances its split genres, with the journey into space being a thrilling science fiction mystery while the struggle for survival by the supporting characters back on earth showcases the essence of the disaster genre.
In fact, the way “Moonfall” handled its characters was probably the most surprising and enjoyable element of the film. “Moonfall” has a myriad of main and supporting characters, but with different minor obstacles and difficulties being introduced throughout the last act, every single side character is given a hurdle that they overcome. This makes every character important and “Moonfall” gives each character, no matter how small, a time to shine. The three main characters have the greatest of hurdles to overcome, but ironically, one of my main nitpicks is that Jo Fowler is given a little less importance in the final space mission as Harper and Houseman do. Harper and Houseman have clearly defined moments of triumph in the plot, but Fowler by the end of the film is mostly just present in support and doesn’t contribute much to the actual conclusion.
Houseman and Fowler round out the cast as strong supporting characters, even while the plot sometimes mishandles them.
Overall, “Moonfall” is an enjoyable film, even while its two halves can’t quite fully fit together. There are times when its science fiction side and its disaster side feel like they’re conflicting with each other, cutting back and forth between storylines at key climactic parts when our attention should really be focused on one or the other, and while this genre fusing works for the most part, there are these moments when it never fully comes together. Ironically, I actually found myself more invested in the earth storyline than in the space one, and I can’t help but wonder if perhaps what makes ‘Moonfall’ so different may also be its own downfall. That being said, strong characters, exhilarating set-pieces and unexpected emotional attachment makes ‘Moonfall’ an enjoyable film, even if it is somewhat disjointed.
I give “Moonfall” a 7/10.
“Moonfall” is now showing in theaters.
Ben Konuch is a freshman strategic communications student and an A&E writer for Cedars. He enjoys getting sucked into good stories, playing video games and failing horribly at wallyball with his friends.