Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Moonfall

♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

2011. NASA astronauts Jo Fowler (Halle Berry) and Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson) are on a mission to repair a satellite in orbit when a swarm of what appears to be alien technology attacks them, killing their colleague. What follows is a fall of grace for him as the accident is blamed on human error on his part, while she gets a promotion and ends up as NASA’s deputy director a decade later. At present, megastructurist KC Houseman (John Bradley) detects a change in the moon’s orbit, looming closer and closer to Earth in what is theorized to be an imminent impact in a matter of three weeks. Ringing the alarm, he, along with a reluctant Harper and Fowler, must work together to figure out what is causing the apocalyptic disturbance. When the US government abandons all support, the three of them are left without a choice but to wing it in an effort to save mankind from extinction.

Oh. So, Roland Emmerich is destroying the world again. I wasn’t informed. In case you are not familiar with the body of work of the writer/director, here are some examples: Independence Day, Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow, 10000 BC, 2012. The list goes on. Suffice it to say, the guy really wants to end the world as we know it. I’m surprised he wasn’t the director of either Armageddon or Deep Impact. This time around, he blames the end of the world on the moon. And the moon be, like, SAY WHUT?

As always, the formula leaves a lot of room for excitement and adrenaline rush. The world is ending, and the fate of humanity lies on three people who rely heavily on Deux ex machina to get their way out of this predicament. Convenient. I don’t blame them. Faced with such dire constraints, the best thing I could do is to bank on a miracle, too. But that is just an excuse for lazy writing. Plot development is something you have already seen before in Emmerich’s films.

The family members who have nothing to contribute to plot development try their best, or worst, to make you care about them by striving to survive against all odds as they wait for the problem’s resolution to be served to them on a silver platter, because they represent the very human quality of hope and despair in the face of great adversity used to anchor disaster movies like this on your humanity. In short, there is nothing new here to see. They rehashed the disaster movie formula, and then blamed the moon for it.

The thing about making a space drama is that you really have to strike a good balance between the scientific and the philosophical. To date, it seems only Christopher Nolan has really achieved that through Interstellar. In all fairness to Emmerich, he tries, and the build up towards that big reveal does keep you interested. And then it falls flat on its face. Aliens. Advanced civilizations. Megastructures. You get lost in all the mumbo jumbo and the abuse of bright strobe lights as a justification for such. In the end, you are just not convinced.

As for the acting, Berry and Wilson commit to their characters and you actually admire them for it. Both are really good thespians, but even their utmost dedication cannot save this film from the belabored script and contrived storyline. If anything, it is Bradley as a conspiracy theorist who comes across as borderline annoying but delightful, nonetheless. May this film serve as his baptism of fire to successfully cross over from small to big screen.

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