Moonfall ⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali
A mysterious force knocks the moon from its orbit around Earth and sends it hurtling on a collision course with life as we know it. Out in cinemas now.
My relationship with disaster films goes back a long time. I believe the ‘70s version of King Kong (if you can count that as a disaster film, after all Kong did destroy NY City) was actually my very first experience in a cinema.
I also remember being enthralled by Towering Inferno as a young child and I must have seen all those Poseidon and Earthquake surrogates countless times.
Then back in ‘90s when disaster movies seemed to dominate the box office, often with the same concepts only months apart (see Deep Impact vs Armageddon, or Volcano vs Dante’s Peak), I was there on opening week to cheer with the rest of the audience.
Even though I was always very aware of how dumb those films were, the spectacle of the visual effects of those entire cities being destroyed by aliens or whatever latest natural disaster was just about enough to for me to close an eye on all the other shortcomings. Yes, the scripts were always ludicrous, the characters laughable, but that almost never mattered and it was part of the fun.
Director Roland Emmerich is no stranger to big-budget silly disaster movies: his Independence Day, Godzilla (1998), The Day After Tomorrow and 2012 helped redefine the genre and while we certainly don’t walk into any of those films searching for deep stories or subtle characters, we also know that if we are able to turn our brains off we should be able to have a fun edge-of-seat ride.
Now, I don’t know whether it’s because I’m 50 years old and lost some of the young innocence that helped me through many of its predecessors or whether my acceptance level for this type of crap has shrunk following the pandemic, but I found Moonfall insufferable.
For a start I couldn’t quite buy into stupid premise: the moon has fallen off its orbit and it’s getting closer and closer to earth, causing massive tides, shifts in gravity and so on. Even though the film-makers promise us it’s purely based on science, the way it’s presented looks just as silly as the premise that drillers should be trained to be astronauts within a week, as opposed to the other way round, in the abysmal Armageddon.
On top of that, the mix natural disaster and alien invasion (no spoiler here: it’s all in the trailers) was just a step too far.
It reminded me of James Cameron’s The Abyss from the late ‘80s, a great suspense movie, full of great characters and set-pieces which all fell apart once the aliens came into it right at the very end. Something very similar happens here, except that this is no Cameron and the movie is actually bad right from the start.
Not even the loud soundtrack crowded with a cacophony of explosions and screams and the extensive visual effects, most of which look like at least a decade old (even the publicity photo below looks bad!), but were also rather confusing, could distract me from just how stupid and how by-the-numbers it all is.
There is NOTHING here we haven’t seen before done a lot better.
Moonfall is badly paced, badly written, repetitive, and even boring, a real crime for all types of movie.
It all happens much too fast, without giving us time to get attached to any of the characters, most of whom seemed to have the same family dynamics anyway. Once I got to the end I realised I actually did not know a single name.
As for the stakes and the impending disaster itself, there’s no real sense of building up to any crescendo, nor any sense of this being a worldwide problem, or even a problem beyond the few people involved. Where are the usual shots of crowds running in panic or those expendable foreign cities being wiped off? This film couldn’t even deliver on that.
In fact, does a world even exist beyond New York and the NASA station?
By the time the third act kicked in and the preposterousness and idiocy of it all surpassed even my worst fears; I had already tuned out and couldn’t wait for it to finish.
And when it finally did, with yet another insult to the audience (a spaceship crash landing on earth right next to where the astronaut’s family members were stranded!!!) I was sure I had witnessed the worst film of its kind.
More than a disaster movie, this one is a disaster of a movie and you shouldn’t spend your money on it. If you must, watch Greenland instead (on Amazon Prime) to see how these things should be done in the 21st century.
Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.
Moonfall is on in cinemas now.
See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features
Support The Chiswick Calendar
The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.
We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.
To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.