‘Moonfall’ Knocks Everything Out of Orbit

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Moonfall (CREDIT: Reiner Bajo/Lionsgate)

Starring: Patrick Wilson, Halle Berry, John Bradley, Michael Peña, Charlie Plummer, Kelly Yu, Eme Ikwuakor, Carolina Bartczak, Maxim Roy, Stephen Bogaert, Azriel Dalman, Donald Sutherland

Director: Roland Emmerich

Running Time: 130 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for The Regular End-of-the-World Chaos

Release Date: February 4, 2022 (Theaters)

Given its title, I had hoped that German disaster auteur Roland Emmerich’s Moonfall would be some sort of random rebuke to James Bond’s Skyfall. I don’t know what that would entail exactly, but I can’t help but think in puns. But instead, this end-of-the-world epic is actually some sort of unholy union at the intersection between Transformers: Dark of the Moon and The Matrix Resurrections. The former because of the secrets that have been hiding out for generations on Earth’s satellite, and the latter because of the urgency for humans to live alongside artificial intelligence.

Emmerich is of course known for blowing up the world in the likes of Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, and 2012, but he’s also known for his conspiracy theory streak. Remember 2011’s Anonymous, which posited that William Shakespeare wasn’t actually the author of his plays? Most people don’t! If you do, though, the inner workings of Moonfall might seem somewhat less inexplicable. But only a little.

So the deal is, there’s been this massive coverup on the part of NASA ever since astronauts Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson) and Jo Fowler (Halle Berry) lost a fellow spacefarer to what appears to be an attack from electrical interference that’s taken the form of a swarm of locusts. This leads to a coverup, which predictably tears Brian’s life apart. Meanwhile, this random dude named K.C. (John Bradley) has been going on and on about how the Moon’s orbit is changing, and I’m no expert in astrophysics, but that doesn’t sound so good. For some reason, nobody on NASA has noticed this until now because – as far as I can tell – they just haven’t bothered to look down at the data. Anyway, Patrick, Jo, and K.C. all eventually head to the Moon, where they learn both that the coverup has been going on for basically all of human history and also that the artificial intelligence behind the attacks is actually apparently trying to help out humanity. So I’m left wondering: why did it have to be so deadly to get everyone’s attention?

Back on Earth, Brian’s kids, ex-wife (Carolina Bartczak), and her new husband (Michael Peña) are walking through the snow in Aspen, Colorado to find somewhere safe. And I don’t know what this has to do with anything! Yes, I realize that disaster movies usually have ostensibly more grounded stories to anchor our emotions, but it helps if it’s clear what those grounded stories have to do with the disaster. Maybe that connection was explained at some point, and I just forgot. Oh well, at least the conspiracy theories are plenty loopy. If only there had been even more loopiness.

Moonfall is Recommended If You Like: Half-baked conspiracy theories, Halle Berry realizing there’s an emergency, Random court scenes

Grade: 2.5 out of 5 Orbits

Movie Review: Fly Me Away, ‘Ad Astra’

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CREDIT: Francois Duhamel/Twentieth Century Fox

Ad Astra, whaddya got for us?

Daddy issues? Check.

A plot about space travel that sure seems like a metaphor for the emotional space between a parent and child? Check.

Am I getting 2001 vibes? Sure. Not quite as psychedelic, of course, but the feeling of being unmoored and location-less (and somehow kind of liking it) is definitely there.

Was I nodding off while I watched? Yah.

Is that a mark against the film? Nah, it’s more about my own physiology. Nevertheless, I think Ad Astra works as a nice lullaby.

I give Ad Astra 5 Launches out of 4 Landings.