Moonfall just might be the dumbest movie I’ve ever seen. Which is a distinctly different category than the worst movie I’ve ever seen.
When I used to co-host a tv and movie podcast, we famously talked about the Netflix movie, The Titan. It was easily one of the most pointless movies I’ve ever seen. Gratuitously violent, made no sense, was boring at times, and had a very unsatisfying and extremely unbelievable ending (for reasons I won’t even begin to go into here). I felt like I had wasted 1 hour and 37 minutes of my life.
After that viewing, we jokingly started a “Titan” scale. 10 Titans meant a movie was epically bad. 1 Titan would mean it was pretty good.
So where does Moonfall land on the Titan scale? It’s a good solid 7. Because it’s not a bad movie. It was pretty entertaining for 2 hours and 10 minutes. It was just epically dumb.
Before I go into why, a little background on my movie tastes.
Where I Stand on Blockbuster Movies
I’m generally not a huge blockbuster movie fan. I don’t like big explosions and predictable storylines and trite humor. But blockbusters have their place.
Independence Day wasn’t an phenomenal movie. But it was a good movie. It had its stupid moments but by the end I was cheering for everyone and proud to be an American! Mission accomplished.
Avatar? Hated it. Jurassic Park? Loved it. Jurassic World? Loved it. Avengers: Infinity War? Loved it. Avengers: End Game? Hated it.
I’m hit or miss but get that these movies are meant for the masses. They are meant to be fun, sometimes mindless, visually engaging entertainment, sometimes with good acting. And for blockbuster movies, I can work with that. It’s why I loved The Meg, for example
But sometimes the story is so poorly developed (more as a framework for special effects) that it loses originality and gets mired in cliches.
Where I Stand on Science Movies
I’m not a scientist although my degree actually is in a scientific field. So, admittedly, I tend to scrutinize science-y type things more than others. But I also recognize that you have to suspend a certain amount of disbelief if you want to be entertained.
But I said a certain amount, not ALL of it. When the science in a movie is so completely preposterous, I can’t even enjoy it for entertainment’s sake because they aren’t following any rules. If you’ve created a book or movie in sci-fi world, you still have to follow the rules of that world for it to make sense, even if you’ve made up those rules.
You could create a movie about some armed renegade scientists that have been trying to expose a decades long cover up about the shape of the earth called The Flat Earth Society with a tagline saying “Don’t push them over the edge.” And if you could answer why they believe the earth was flat, I’d totally watch that movie.
But if you’re just making stuff up because it’s convenient for your story, it tells me you’re lazy with your writing (ask Andy Weir about doing due diligence with sci fi writing).
Why Moonfall Didn’t Work At All
Moonfall is a blockbuster movie with a blockbuster budget around a very scientific event. The moon has suddenly and unexpectedly shifted its orbit and is now on a death spiral collision course with Earth. We, as humans, have only two choices: figure out why and fix it OR blow it up with nuclear weapons. Because, of course.
I won’t spoil it for you by telling you WHY the moon has shifted its orbit. But let’s just say I’d probably be more convinced that the earth is flat.
As the moon gets closer to the earth, it starts breaking apart and moon’s gravity wreaks havoc on our tides. There’s flooding and destruction. And sometimes the moon’s gravity is so strong it’s lifting people into the air. Until they go inside a shack. Because gravity respects the indoors.
Okay, fine. We’ll overlook that. But then we have the Wonder Woman 1984 problem. Moviemakers seem to think that vintage spaceships (as with vintage aircraft in WW1984) just sit around fueled up with the keys in the ignition, ready to go at a moment’s notice.
I’m not going to nitpick the entire movie but you get the idea, right?
The science is absolutely preposterous but the story takes it to a new level of overused action movie cliches. Here are a few examples.
- There’s a disgraced astronaut (Patrick Wilson) who can’t get over his downfall. He drinks too much and is estranged from his wife and kid. Basically, a drunk loser. That rides a motorcycle.
- His former partner (Halle Berry) is a tough as nails astronaut who now has an important position at NASA. (what a waste of her talent).
- Dr. Houseman is a chubby adorable “scientist” who knows more than anyone at NASA! Think Olaf from Frozen. With a British accent!
- There’s a rebellious teen, a stubborn military man, an eccentric scientist with secrets he can’t live with anymore, government officials who want to cover everything up, and lawless citizens who don’t care about anybody if the world is ending!
If you take the most cliched parts from Armageddon, Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow and then steal some of the best parts from Contact , 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Stargate, you might start to get a sense of this movie, which isn’t surprising since director Roland Emmerich wrote and/or directed many of these movies.
My advice to future directors is to start with a solid story first, then work your big budget action sequences into the story. And my advice to moviegoers is to skip this abomination entirely.