WARNING: THIS REVIEW HAS SPOILERS BUT YOU REALLY SHOULDN’T SEE THIS FILM.
By Martin Morse Wooster: My friend Adam Spector tells me that when Ernest Lehman was asked to write the script for North by Northwest, he tried to turn out the most “Hotchcocky” script he could, with all of Hitchcock’s obsessions in one great motion picture.
Moonfall is the most “Emmerichian” film Roland Emmerich is made. Like his earlier films, it has flatulent melodrama interlaced with completely daft science. But everything here is much more intense than his earlier work. But the only sense of wonder you’ll get from this film is wondering why the script got greenlit.
Now I am a history major, and my rule is that if I think the science is questionable, there’s something seriously wrong with it. Well, the science in Moonfall is so crazy that even legendary crackpot Erich von Daniken would question this film.
Moonfall was filmed with NASA cooperation, and the film credits five NASA consultants and five other science consultants. One can hear them pleading with the director, “For the love of God, man, are you insane?”
One final proof that Emmerich has no shame: he named a cat “Fuzz Aldrin.”
Our film begins with John Bradley, playing British Science Nerd, indulging in his hobby of breaking into the University of California (Irvine) and impersonating physicists. He calls someone at NASA and asks him for current data on the Moon’s orbit. Then he goes to his real job at some burger joint and stares at his phone while the data is coming in. “You can have barbecue, ranch, or (looking at his phone) WTF!”
Bradley has learned that the Moon is going to crash into the Earth. But who will listen? So he posts his theory on social media, and the networks pick it up without doing any factchecking. NASA quickly admits the rumors are true, and it’s panic time! Head for the mountains! Head for the bunkers! Grab every available weapon!
Now why is the Moon crashing into the Earth? What is the stupidest reason you can imagine? If your answer is “the Moon is a spaceship controlled by borgified AI that has achieved sentience and hates people,” you win!
So, it’s time for NASA to fight back. And what a motley crew they have, led by Halle Berry and Patrick Wilson. Ten years earlier Wilson led a shuttle mission with Berry where one astronaut died because the borgified Moon bots swarmed out of Mare Celsium and cut off life support because, as I said, they’re Ais who hate people. Wilson tried to explain what happened at his court-martial, but no one believed him and he was dishonorably discharged and is so down and out that he’s three months behind on his rent and about to be evicted. But incredibly he’s back.
But all the shuttles are in museums. How are they going to get into space? Well, did you know that all the retired shuttles are in perfect working order and all you have to do to launch one is take it out of the hangar, truck it to Vandenberg, and launch? Even if, as in the case of Endeavour, the shuttle is in a hangar, beat up and covered with graffiti?
I’m not going to provide any more plot points—there’s only so much stupidity you can take, after all. Here are a few things I liked. I liked seeing it in IMAX (thank you, promoters!) and I liked that Donald Sutherland is still working and is in one scene as the guy who explains things.
I also liked one scene where we learn that because the borgified AI hate electronics, are heroes must use a sextant and…wait for it…a slide rule.
One final point. John Bradley reveals that he has irritable bowel syndrome, and there are many, many references to fecal matter. In this case, this is away for the filmmakers to let the audience know that they’re on the wrong end of a hot and steamy pile.
How bad is this film? I rate films on a 1-10 scale but had to add 0 and 00.
Moonfall is the first film I’ve seen that gets a triple zero.
 Bradley actually drops the “f-bomb” but this is a family blog.
Honestly, I’m so desperate for science fiction movies which aren’t just horror masquerading as science fiction, I’ll probably see it anyway. 😐
I think Fuzz Aldrin is an awesome name for a cat.
I’ll say that the promotional team and the trailer team seem to be doing a good job; when this film first appeared on the horizon I checked it out. “Moon crashes into Earth. Roland Emmerich”. OK, Space 1999 idiot plot redo. SKIP.
Then they went silent for a while and came back with additional promotional material and I thought “ooookay. Maybe they’ve actually come up with a semi-rational story behind the Moon thing and this might not be a complete waste of time.”
Then I read this review.
Thanks for saving me the time and the dollars, not to mention however many brain cells I lose every time I dumb myself down enough to enjoy one of these thing.
Unbelievably this film has a seventy three rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. Even critics didn’t entirely dislike it giving it a forty four percent rating. WTF?
I just saw a friend’s mini-review of this movie on FB. He called it a Big Dumb Movie and said he was entertained. So I guess there is an audience for splashy, non-sensical disaster movies, and that this movie is considered by them a good example of the type.
I don’t think this is the stupidest reason I can imagine. Between the Trump Administration and COVID-deniers (overlapping categories, I know) , I find it very easy to believe in an AI who hates people. I’m starting to lean that way myself.
Since I will wait for the DVD on Netflix, watching this movie will not cost me extra and I can watch it in my PJs so that is a plus. I like an occasional hoaky film so…
And I want to name a cat Fuzz Aldrin. Great cat name actually.
Nancy Sauer beat me to it: the basic premise is a green light for me. The rest…
Thanks for a fun review! Probably more entertaining than the movie, tbh.
Thanks for the wonderful review – I really don’t want to see this. It may possibly be as bad as Bruce Willis and Arma-shit-geddon.
Meanwhile, if you want a good science fiction novel about this premise, try Jack McDevitt’s “Moonfall.”
I’m waiting for the DVD, too.
I’m glad that I am not alone in thinking that Fuzz Aldrin is a dope name for a cat. It’s right up there with “Furguson” from New Girl.
The reviews in The Guardian and in The New York Times also say this is a pretty bad film.
[I will always enjoy that photo of the shuttle at Randy’s.]
Apparently, according to the movie reviewer I read, it’s so bad it’s Ed Wood level of entertaining. You just need to turn off the critical parts of the brain and enjoy the absurdity of it all.
Since this morning I have been running a highly unscientific poll of my FB friends regarding naming a cat “Fuzz Aldrin”, because that is the important issue here, isn’t it?
So far 95% of the respondents have said it’s a good name for a cat. The remaining 5% said “It depends.”. One person reported that they actually had a cat named Fuzz Aldrin. The data seems clear: It’s a purrfectly good name for a cat.
Yeah, when I saw it wasn’t going to be an adaptation of the Jack McDevitt novel, I was resigned to disappointment. Apparently I wasn’t resigned enough.
What happened to Neil Clawstrong and Michael Purrins?
Or Meow Jemison and Moggy Whitson.
There’s a wonderful bit in Mark Kermodes’ review on BBC Radio Five Live:
“The Laws of Gravity have gone out of the window.
The Laws of Drama have gone out of the window.
The Laws of Common Sense have packed up their belongings and are fleeing for the hills, which even now are being destroyed by an outtake from a Lars von Trier art movie!”