‘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: ‘John Wick: Chapter 3’ Might Be the Loudest Action Movie Ever Made

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CREDIT: Niko Tavernise

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Anjelica Huston, Ian McShane, Saïd Taghmaoui, Jason Mantzoukas, Robin Lord Taylor

Director: Chad Stahelski

Running Time: 131 Minutes

Rating: R for Traditional and Improvised Weaponry Galore

Release Date: May 17, 2019

Either I have really sensitive ears, or other critics and action film buffs have had their hearing blown out by cinematic cacophony.

The first John Wick had some cool ideas about how a worldwide network of assassins would be managed and litigated, but it was sloppily edited and so, so overwhelmingly loud. (It’s possible that the theater I saw it in didn’t have the sound properly calibrated, but I’ve seen plenty of movies in that theater before and after in which that hasn’t been an issue.) Then Chapter 2 came along and cleaned up those execution snafus.* But now Chapter 3 is backsliding, or just leaning too hard into the danger zone. The outrageously choreographed fight sequences are still shot gracefully, but the soundtrack is now oppressive at Guinness record-shattering levels. (*-Although, looking back at my review of Chapter 2, I am reminded that this trilogy actually never quieted down.)

This edition opens with Keanu Reeves and a fellow assassin breaking every possible glass surface within reach, and the volume for that level of destruction never lets up. And look, I could forgive this movie my eardrums getting blown out if everything else were satisfying, but I just don’t really much care about the mess that Wick has gotten himself mucked up in. He’s run afoul of some sacred rules, and now he and whoever’s helped him must atone rather ritualistically, but I just want to shout to the enforcers, “Get over yourselves!”

At least the performances remain commendably committed. Reeves, Ian McShane, and Laurence Fishburne are as righteous as you remember them. Among the newcomers, Asia Kate Dillon commands respect in the rather thankless task as the uber-rules-respecting adjudicator, while Jason Mantzoukas is a little helper fellow who is nowhere near as unhinged as his typical roles, though he does wonders with his face acting. That’s some subtlety that could have been quite useful elsewhere in this overloaded buffet of gore.

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is Recommended If You: Have less sensitive hearing than I do

Grade: 2.5 out of 5 Shattered Windows

This Is a Movie Review: Kingsman: The Golden Circle

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CREDIT: Giles Keyte/Twentieth Century Fox

The Golden Circle is just as exciting as the first Kingsman, and it features a hell of a villainous turn from Julianne Moore. Its attitude is a bit arch, and it often pretends that it isn’t, but that isn’t a huge deal when the action is assembled impressively and the humor does let loose often enough. But ultimately while these flicks are fun, I find it hard to embrace them fully. There is just something weirdly insidious about their politics (or something like politics). It may not even be intentional, but intentional or not, it does unnerve me. I could have forgiven all that if Channing had danced more. Why didn’t Channing dance more?

I give Kingsman: The Golden Circle 2 Cannibal Burgers out of 3 Butterfly Effects.