You might be wondering about the meaning behind the title of the science fiction disaster film “Moonfall,” so here goes.
The moon is falling. On us.
And here I was hoping “Moonfall” might be some kind of nod to the James Bond movies “Moonraker” and “Skyfall,” and we’d get an opening title from some international superstar belting out lyrics like:
We all the love the moon in fall
Lionsgate presents a film directed by Roland Emmerich and written by Emmerich, Harald Kloser and Spenser Cohen. Rated PG-13 (for violence, disaster action, strong language, and some drug use). Running time: 124 minutes. Now showing at local theaters.
But when the moon falls
It will kill us all
It’s a Moonfall, prepare for a Moonfall
This could mean doom, y’all …
I’m sad to report: NO SUCH LUCK. “Moonfall” is the kind of film that doesn’t take itself seriously and yet really doesn’t have a sense of humor about the ludicrous nature of its very existence. They should have called this bombastic, ear-splitting, headache-inducing mess something like, “A Twister will make a Deep Impact when it lands on Independence Day and creates Armageddon,” as it has the look and vibe of a 1990s/2000s disaster film, from the hokey plot about the ragtag anti-heroes who have to save the world to the not entirely convincing visuals of gigantic waves enveloping major cities to the repeated shots of various characters who pause from time to time to behold some amazing CGI development and say things like, “What in the world is THAT!”
Director/co-writer/co-producer Roland Emmerich is the man behind “Independence Day” (1996), “Godzilla” (1998) and “The Day After Tomorrow” (2004), and he pulls out all the stops in “Moonfall,” which is so outlandish it makes those former films look like documentaries. After a prologue in which astronauts Jo Fowler (Halle Berry) and Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson) are involved in a tragic space shuttle mission that costs the life of their rookie colleague, we spring forward a decade to present day, when Jo is a high-level NASA official while Brian’s life has taken a nosedive. He lost his job after a trial determined “human error” was the cause of the tragedy, he’s divorced and rarely talks with his son, Sonny (easy name to remember!) and he’s unshaven and surly — all the signs of a fallen hero.
When a nerdy conspiracy theorist named K.C. Houseman (John Bradley, aka Sam Tarwell on “Game of Thrones”) tracks down Brian and tries to show him data proving the moon’s orbit is about to shift in radical fashion, Brian dismisses him as a kook — but get this, K.C. is right! This is just like “Don’t Look Up,” only a little more subtle! Jo takes charge at NASA and tries to recruit Brian to join the mission to save the world, which leads to an instant classic of an exchange, in which Brian says, “Look, I’ve got my own problems,” and Jo retorts: And the moon falling in pieces onto the Earth isn’t one of them?????
She has a point, Bri.
I’m not going to give away the big reveal about what’s happening on the moon; suffice to say “Moonfall” has one of the longest exposition scenes in recent movie history, a scene so lengthy one actor taps out halfway through and another actor taps in to continue with the explanation. They drone on for so long, we start rooting for the moon to actually fall on Earth and put this thing out of its cliché-riddled misery.