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Roland Emmerich’s latest fails to deliver even on action

Roland Emmerich has been specializing in the type of “disaster movies” that took multiplexes by the storm (pun intended) in the 90s and early 2000s. However, as the film world shifted towards other trends, Emmerich has admirably kept an ambitious scale about his films that is not seen in Hollywood anymore. It is therefore sad that with so much ambition such poor quality is produced.

Moonfall (2022) finds the world in danger of an extinction level event after the moon’s orbit changes and threatens to crash into the earth. It is up to an enthusiastic janitor (John Bradley), a disgraced astronaut (Patrick Wilson), and a suppressed NASA director (Halle Berry) to figure out how to save the world.

Emmerich has made films of this exaggerated scale before, from The Day After Tomorrrow (2004) to Independence Day (1996), however, those cheesy blockbusters were very much products of their time. The shift in films today has been towards realism and darkness, even in the light-fare of Marvel films. As such, Moonfall struggles to define itself in today’s world, bringing forth a laughable straight face with its bonkers premise. As a result, Moonfall feels like an agglomeration of early 2000s movie cliches with unimaginative and expository writing.

Emmerich has grown a reputation of visual effects spectacles in his films. Moonfall seemed to promise in this aspect, with gravity warping familiar metropolises and landscapes. However, Emmerich seems to lean away from these sequences and of much action at all in order to dive into the convoluted lore of Moonfall’s world. This means that much of the film is simply characters explaining things unabashedly to viewers. As a result, there is little to no character development, minimal action scenes, and actors left struggling to deliver empathetic performances.

Much of Moonfall feels like the writers are desperately trying to elongate the initial concept of their script: “moon crashes into earth.” The film can feel interminable in the final act, as we are cutting from the entertaining goings-on in space, to the impossibly dull humans on earth trying to find shelter. There are useless scenes and cameos, subplots and false endings, that seek to drag out the runtime in order for this to meet the requirements of a feature film. This slows the film down to a crawl towards the end, leaving me struggling to not doze off.

The performers of Moonfall have a hard time muddling through since there doesn’t seem to be any direction towards a cohesive tone from Emmerich. Wilson and Berry are stuck with the overdramatic and shallow leads and it’s a wonder they are able to say their lines with a straight face. Bradley might be able to save face somewhat, by being the comic relief and thus the one character that is not taking the plot too seriously. However, Bradley is also stuck with some of the worst attempts at humor, to the point that many viewers in my audience were groaning at some of the poor quips Bradley was forced to say.

In the end, Moonfall is the type of ambitious film that Hollywood doesn’t make anymore. Unfortunately, Emmerich’s hand behind the camera leads to an absolute bore of a film, dragging the possibility that Hollywood takes future risks with original material, down with it. One only hopes that the future of original blockbusters doesn’t orbit around the performance of Moonfall.



About Young Critic

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I've been writing on different version of this website since February of 2013. I originally founded the website in a film-buff phase in high school, but it has since continued through college and into my adult life. Young Critic may be getting older, but the love and passion for film is forever young. 

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