“It’s better to beg for forgiveness than ask permission.”KC Houseman
Since Independence Day, Roland Emerich has carved out a niche in big budget disaster porn, effects-heavy extravaganzas that imagine swathes of the world being obliterated. If 2012‘s climate disaster thesis (“the neutrinos have mutated”) was bad, surely we have now reached a nadir with the moon suddenly crashing toward the Earth. That Moonfall is dumb — the stupidest film I have seen in years — was obvious from the premise, but what surprised me whilst I felt my intelligence ebbing away was its laziness. It is generic almost to the point of parody, with its plucky astronauts, the smart guy struggling to be taken seriously, and the military intent on bombarding the problem with nukes. Films like this don’t need absolute scientific rigour but, when the source of suspense is supposed to be the effect of the moon’s gravity, sudden inexplicable revelations that the moon has spontaneously increased in mass or contains a superdense white dwarf that was never previously detected are senselessly self-sabotaging. Similarly confounding are astronauts who seem to have no concept of what devices might generate electromagnetic fields. Once we realise there are no rules beyond what the script finds expedient in the moment, all tension evaporates. The most baffling thing about Moonfall is that it was made at all. The cast plainly have zero interest and, with the dialogue they are required to spout (“The moon is rising” / “Gravity’s gonna go crazy”), one can sympathise. Game of Thrones‘ John Bradley feigns some enthusiasm, though it only makes his accidentally correct conspiracy theorist more unbearable. Even the CG destruction is underwhelming, not helped by characters abandoning any pretence at urgency to watch things unfold. Ultimately, Moonfall is too banal even to be entertainingly awful. One of the film’s many exposition dumps contains a brief glimmer of an interesting origin story for the moon; sadly, we have this instead.