4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:
Box Office $19.06 million;
$29.96 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $42.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violence, disaster action, strong language, and some drug use.
Stars Halle Berry, Patrick Wilson, John Bradley, Charlie Plummer, Kelly Yu, Michael Peña, Carolina Bartczak.
Roland Emmerich has made a career of turning absurd premises into a springboard for zany visual effects. But he’s a long way from the salad days of Stargate and Independence Day.
Emmerich’s latest formulaic sci-fi disaster movie, which he directed, co-wrote and produced, is called Moonfall, because it involves the moon literally falling out of the sky. But since that’s not a problem any off-the-rack action hero can easily solve, Emmerich and his writing team have to contrive a backstory for the moon that the heroes can exploit in order to save Earth from it. And this isn’t any ordinary plot device, it’s nature-of-existence-type stuff — an idea that would usually be the subject of multi-season space operas, condensed into a few minutes of exposition within a half-hour of the end of the movie.
Anyway, the story finds Earth on the brink of destruction as debris and gravity from the approaching moon cause widespread damage. But a pair of former astronauts (Halle Berry and Patrick Wilson), with the help of a conspiracy podcaster (John Bradley) figure out the nature of the moon’s sudden change in orbit, and devise a plan to fix it by hauling a space shuttle out of a museum and sending it back into space.
That makes this the second film in the last few months, Don’t Look Up being the other, that drags a space shuttle out of retirement to lead a mission to save Earth. It’s basically impossible given how much those ships have been disassembled for display purposes, but as far as Moonfall is concerned it’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the ridiculousness on display. It’s not as if scientific accuracy or the laws of physics are going to be limiting factors of an Emmerich script.
There’s a point in Moonfall where you just have to tip your cap to the filmmakers for not only embracing the absurdity of their premise, but one-upping the insanity at every turn while taking it completely seriously. And when one of those filmmakers is Emmerich, that’s saying something.
Pretty much every Emmerich movie uses a high-concept premise as an excuse for some splendid visual effects imagery contextually strung together by tropes and melodrama, and Moonfall is no exception. If anything, it’s just proof that Emmerich isn’t really making movies anymore, he’s making drinking games.
The rules are simple enough. Take a drink anytime a disaster-movie cliché pops up involving the down-on-their-luck heroes, their hacky family drama, or the outsider who is thrust into the spotlight. Even better, start chugging when you recognize a plot device from another film. A partial list for Moonfall will include:
- Independence Day;
- 2001: A Space Odyssey;
- Deep Impact;
- Mission to Mars;
- The Core;
- The Matrix;
- Transformers: Dark of the Moon;
- Crimson Tide;
- “Superman: The Animated Series”;
- and several “Star Trek” episodes and movies.
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Of course, it’s not as if Emmerich’s better-regarded earlier films are so much better in quality, at least as far as the writing is concerned. After all, even Stargate needed decade’s worth of TV shows produced by someone else to cover up the plot holes in that film.
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The Moonfall Blu-ray includes Emmerich with co-writer/producer/composer Harald Kloser providing a feature-length commentary track, which doesn’t amount to much as the pair spend the bulk of it either describing what’s happening on screen or stating the obvious when it comes to story development. There’s a few good stories here and there about the cast and dealing with COVID quarantines during an efficient 61-day shoot, but not much more in the way of substance.
More insights into the making of the film can be found in “Against Impossible Odds: Making Moonfall,” a series of behind-the-scenes featurettes that run about 59 minutes in total.
A bit better is the 26-minute “Exploring the Moon: Past, Present and Future,” which is more of a conventional documentary about the moon and its history and characteristics.
On the fun side is “KC Houseman Speaks the Truth!,” consisting of four videos of Bradley’s character explaining conspiracy theories about the moon, totaling about eight minutes.
In the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack, the 4K and regular Blu-ray discs each have the same extras on them.