ARTS + ENTERTAINMENT

Fan Effect Review: “Moonfall” misses the mark of sci-fi fun and disaster camp

Feb 4, 2022, 3:29 PM

Halle Berry and Patrick Wilson portray former astronauts “Josinda Fowler” and “Brian Harper” trying to save the world in the sci-fi thriller “Moonfall,” now in theaters. Photo credit: Lionsgate.

This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

SALT LAKE CITY — Lionsgate’s latest action-thriller hits the theaters this weekend, but “Moonfall” might fail to hit its mark with audiences.

Directed by Roland Emmerich, best known for his blockbuster hit ”Independence Day,” it is a space caper that sends audiences into orbit to save the earth from the falling moon.

The plot

While orbiting Earth, a mysterious event impacts astronauts Jo Fowler (Halle Berry) and Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson). Over a decade later, Harper is disgraced, Fowler is a NASA executive, and the Earth is in big trouble. Due to that previous mysterious event, the moon has been knocked from its orbit; as it falls toward Earth, it creates havoc for all life on the surface. The fate and hope of the world are now in the hands of Fowler and Harper, as well as an awkward conspiracy theorist named K.C. Houseman (John Bradley). As the unlikely trio overcomes setbacks, disasters, and their own personal drama, the question is, can they save the day and uncover what the moon really is?

Moonfall falls short

With an interesting concept, a recognizable cast including Academy Award winner Halle Berry, and some great production value glimpsed in the trailer, I was ready to give this film a chance. After all, science fiction is one of my favorite genres of film. I found myself sadly disappointed.

“Moonfall” attempts to toe the line between disaster movie, science fiction, and human drama, with a dash of comedic levity. But while sometimes enjoyable, the story becomes a complicated mess of characters, bad science, and overacting.

The film does start out strong with Halle Berry and Patrick Wilson tackling the clunky writing admirably. But the plot moves forward slowly with too much exposition before the action starts, particularly for an action movie. The characters are weighed down with so much emotional baggage they risk becoming downright unlikable. As danger looms and our heroes are pulled every which way by new and ever-evolving problems, the problems of plot holes become evermore present. All with an inconsistent plot, leaping assumptions, and a complete lack of scientific understanding.

Problematic story, stellar production value

Setting aside the problematic story, the production value of “Moonfall” is pretty stellar and some of the cliched lines and stereotypes actually work well for the film. There are some visually stunning and imaginative computer graphic sequences and shots. Sets, costumes, and lighting breathe reality into the fiction, while the ho-hum score does nothing to add to its intensity.

The film-standard nerdy outcast, K.C. Houseman, actually stood out in this movie! Not only in his performance but the likeability of the character. He offered a much-needed comedic relief, humanity, and even a resemblance of scientific reality. He was the quintessential unlikely hero every nerd dreams to be. Which lead me to think…. This movie would work if it wasn’t a movie.

It would work as a video game.

The stereotypical characters, disaster gimmicks, overacting, cringy lines, and heavily computerized graphics would make an interesting single-player game! The overabundance of storylines would make fun side quests. The limited dialogue and cutscenes would require the less fleshed-out characters. The twists and turns would add to the playtime and satisfaction of finally winning the game. But sadly, this is a movie, not a video game, and you are reading a movie review.

While “Moonfall” is not for everyone, if audiences can put aside plot holes and story problems, it could be an escapist-ly ridiculous ride. You will just need to set aside logic for just over 2 hours, look at the pretty pictures, and enjoy the sweeping disaster sequences and gravity-defying action scenes. Parents should also be aware that the film is rated PG-13 for violence, disaster action, strong language, and some drug use.

Would you like another opinion on “Moonfall”?

Check out my Fan Effect Podcast cohost Andy Farnsworth’s review for KSLTV where he says it “plays around with gravity and plausibility” and “will likely be enjoyed most by those who haven’t seen too many disaster movies.”

Beyond Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Gaming and Tech, the brains behind Fan Effect are connoisseurs of categories surpassing the nerdy. Listen regularly on your favorite platform, at kslnewsradio.com, or on the KSL App. Join the conversation on Facebook @FanEffectShow, Instagram @FanEffectShow, and Twitter @FanEffectShow. Fan Effect is sponsored by Megaplex Theatres, Utah’s premiere movie entertainment company. 

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Fan Effect Review: “Moonfall” misses the mark of sci-fi fun and disaster camp