Starring John Bradley, Halle Berry, Patrick Wilson, Michael Pena
Written by Roland Emmerich, Harald Closer and Spenser Cohen
Directed by Roland Emmerich
Produced by Harald Closer and Roland Emmerich

For years now, it’s been a dream project to get together with a group of the country’s best, most educated and most intelligent film critics, gather in a stark, dimly-lit room with one exposed light bulb dangling from the ceiling, and then bring in schlocky Z-movie directors Roland Emmerich and Michael Bay, and then just collectively, loudly yell at them, in all earnestness: “WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING, FOR GOD’S SAKE?!”

There are many other directors who are equally deserving of this frank grilling, of course–Quentin Tarantino, Spike Lee, Lars von Trier, Eli Roth and poor, sad Clint Eastwood during the last fifteen years, immediately come to mind–but, really, let’s face it, let’s just admit it, let’s just state things honestly: Emmerich and Bay have been two of the absolute worst, dumbed-down, tacky, corny, schlocky, trite, cliched, over-done, idiotic and moronic Z-movie directors in recent years, and decades, even. Continually, consistently, most of their loud, thudding, clanging, banging, noisy, cluttered, dumb-downed, flat-out stupid attempts at movie-making just end up being as non-explosive as their movies are filled with explosions. All of their lame, repetitive, cliched, uninventive, uninspired and unoriginal movies just crash-land straight into the dumpster fires of movie hell, just like their movies’ endless parade of cars, planes, trucks, buildings, monuments, landmarks and spaceships that also crash into Earth with a frequency that’s so mind-numbing, it’s just insane, bizarre and even psycho on some level.

Too harsh, too mean, too over-the-top? Not really. It’s just true. I dare anyone to watch Bay’s moronic five “Transformer” movies that he directed, and then watch Emmerich’s equally-moronic “2012,” “The Day After Tomorrow,” “White House Down,” “Godzilla,” “Independence Day: Resurgence” and not end up running from the theater, crazed and deluded and babbling incoherent science fiction mumbo-jumbo conspiracy theories, wildly trying to find the nearest underground bomb shelter or bunker BEFORE THE WORLD ENDS AND WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!

Alas, it’s no surprise to report that Emmerich’s latest disaster of a disaster movie, “Moonfall”–which is being released on Feb. 4, 2022, which is exactly the wrong time for a gloom-and-doom-and-more-gloom-and-doom end-of-the-world pile of dire to be released–easily fits every adjective used above, and more: idiotic, moronic, insipid, cliched, unoriginal, uninventive, uninspired, repetitive, schlocky, over-done, tacky, campy (in a bad, non-fun way), corny, tired and–I say this professionally and journalistically–stupid. That’s right–stupid.

“Moonfall” is a pile of stupid.

That’s not being too harsh or mean, either.

The reasons that “Moonfall” fails, flails, fumbles and falters so spectacularly are many, and the list includes: a long list of cliches in the movie that is so long it’s just literally sad and insulting, really; a horrendous, cliched script that doesn’t end up making any sense, even on a science-fiction, fantasy, disaster movie or paranormal level and even with the most generous, most giving willing suspension of disbelief; terrible, cliched characters, characterizations and character backstories; unoriginal and cliched plots, subplots, story development, character development (well, there really isn’t much character development); dialogue so cliched, clunky, stilted and unoriginal, you’d think co-writers Emmerich, Harald Closer and Spenser Cohen got, oh, about 98 percent of their lines from some public domain, stock reference book titled “Here’s All the Dialogue You Need and Have to Put Into Your Next Disaster Movie;” plot holes so numerous, big and obvious, it’s a wonder the characters, or the actors, know or understand what to do next; inexplicable plot and story points so crazy and ridiculous that it’s a wonder, as one or more writers noted, Emmerich, or any of his crew, knew what to do next when he was filming this mess; stilted, unemotional and actually bad acting from most actors, who deserve some sympathy, considering the poor direction and scriptwriting forced upon them like, well, a disaster; and such an overload of, yes, impressive special effects, the effects basically end up being exasperating because of all of the amateurish insanity engulfing them in just about every scene using actual people and sets.

Every level of filmic elements–writing, acting, directing and even production–are cliched, lazy, lackluster and dumb, throughout “Moonfall.” The movie, it has to be said, marks a horrible night for a moondance. The movie is really one big blue moon. The movie is, yes, a bad moon falling. The movie should have been called “Moonfail.” The movie is just LUNAcy.


But Emmerich deserves all of this criticism and more. After he struck gold with the classic, actually above-average “Stargate” (the original film that led to the equally-excellent television series) in 1994 and the slightly-corny but still lovable “Independence Day” in 1996, Emmerich apparently joined an end-of-the-world cult, or he started listening to too many podcasts, and he became obsessed with, well, the end of the world. And he started making various versions of what are, essentially, the same movie with the same formula, the same scripts, the same characters, the same three acts, even the same scenes. The same everything. Over and over and over. Thus, “2012,” “The Day After Tomorrow,” “Godzilla,” “White House Down” and “Independence Day: Resurgence” and “Moonfall” are so similar, as one film critic noted, it appears that Emmerich, Closer and Cohen wrote “Moonfall” using Mad Libs.

The story, such as it is, or isn’t, involves, in essence, the moon falling out of its regular orbit and hurtling toward Earth. Thus, the usual suspects of mad scientists, men who cry wolf, stick-in-the-mud, grim-faced, nuclear-destruction-obsessed nuclear-trigger-happy crew-cutted military officials, NASA scientists, Right Stuff Astronauts, Wrong Stuff Astronauts, Disgraced Heroes, Cute Kids, Cute Pets, Beautiful Earnest Sexy Female Astronauts, Unbelieving Shadowy Government Officials, Believing Shadowy Government Officials, Conspiracy Theorists, Hackers, Crazy Goofy Hackers, People Covering Up Things For Decades and other Stock Cliched Disaster Movie People, race against the clock to somehow save the world and stop the moon from crashing into the Earth. Why, exactly, the moon is actually hurtling toward Earth won’t be spoiled here, but don’t really take that as a suggestion to actually watch this thing. The backstory and plot point that explains why the moon is hurtling toward Earth is, at first, somewhat inventive, but, with the bad script and bad direction, along with bad timing, pacing, editing and execution, it all just becomes laughable– and “Moonfall” is not an intended comedy.

The only two elements that stand out in this movie are actor John Bradley, who manages to redeem himself and his character and who is the only actor who seems to be actually acting, and what appears to be about $100 million worth of special effects. The hundreds of hard-working, talented and creative artists who created the impressive special effects for “Moonfall” are to be praised. But as the world has learned too many times from too many movies, too many comic book super hero movies, too many disaster movies–and too many Roland Emmerich and Michael Bay movies–tens or hundreds of millions of dollars worth of special effects do not solely make or create a good, or even average movie.

Bradley, as the usual science-based, computer-hacking, non-respdcted conspiracy theorist who Knows What the Deal Is but NO ONE WILL LISTEN TO ME BECAUSE EVERYONE THINKS I’M CRAZY BUT I’M ACTUALLY RIGHT Character, is actually likeable, funny and welcoming. If Emmerich had been smart, ” Moonfall” would have centered solely and mainly around Bradley’s character, his science, his research and his attempts to save the world. That’s almost there, but like everything else in the movie, Bradley’s character and story fall into the overall engulfing, enveloping black hole that is “Moonfall.”

All Halle Berry, Patrick Wilson, Michael Pena and other actors do in their roles is wallow inanely and uncomfortably in their morass of awful dialogue and awful scenes. One has to hope that the checks were generous–and that they clear. Berry, oddly, is weirdly inexpressive, flat and disappointing in a role as one of the Heroic Astronauts Who Helps Save the World.. It’s almost as if Emmerich was telling his actors, ” Hey, don’t worry about the acting part. Just say your lines.” If the actors needed to improv, all they had to do was think up lines from other Emmerich disaster movies.

Hopefully, Emmerich will learn his filmmaking lesson, finally, with “Moonfall.” Just listen to what others are saying:

–ReelViews: “If the pandemic precludes one person from seeing Roland Emmerich’s ‘Moonfall,’ then it has accomplished something positive.”

–Rolling Stone: “Recommending that someone actually subject themselves to Roland Emmerich’s sci-fi neo-disaster flick, however, is a little like shoving three-month-old milk under an unsuspecting person’s nose and inquiring, ‘Does this smell OK?”

–Alternative Lens: “‘Moonfall’ is mind-numbingly dumb by even Roland Emmerich’s standards.”

–Awards Radar: “Roland Emmerich’s ‘Moonfall’ is a pale imitation of a Roland Emmerich disaster flick.”

–Wealth of Geeks: “‘Moonfall’ might make you wish that the moon had crashed into the Earth so that this film couldn’t have been made.”

And you perhaps thought I was being harsh?

“Moonfall” is one small step backwards for a movie, and one giant leap backwards for moviekind.


Matt Neufeld

Matt Neufeld

Matt Neufeld is a longtime journalist, actor and film critic in the Washington and Baltimore areas. He has participated in many local film events and projects in the region, and he has appeared as an actor, supporting actor and extra in more than 45 films projects, at all levels, during the past 20 years.