Ploys that felt smart in our teens look so incredibly silly today, that it is a miracle that Moonfall has managed a theatrical release, instead of being dumped in a corner of a streaming website.
It has only been a couple of months since Hollywood hit us with the polarising Don’t Look Up, where director Adam McKay parodied Hollywood’s end-of-the-world movies about a meteor heading towards planet earth, only to be met with denial and apathy.
There is a segment in the film where while the scientists are going around trying to warn the people about the impending Armageddon, Hollywood makes a film on it called Total Devastation, starring [fictitious] Hollywood heartthrob Devin Peters [played sportingly by Chris Evans, who gives interviews from behind his massive sunglasses, using zero modulation in his voice]. I would be willing to bet half my fortune that Total Devastation is directed by either Roland Emmerich or Michael Bay. In fact, Moonfall, Emmerich’s latest, might be a version of Total Devastation.
Director Emmerich has built a career out of such films. It is 2022, but Emmerich is still betting on the sweeping visuals of Los Angeles being engulfed by tidal waves, probably a metaphor for his own sinking career. Emmerich used to be a big deal if one remembers watching Independence Day , Godzilla  on DVDs or dragging their parents to the theatre to watch The Day After Tomorrow . Ploys that felt smart in our teens look so incredibly silly today, that it is a miracle that Moonfall has managed a theatrical release, instead of being dumped in a corner of a streaming website.
One cannot help but feel bad for Emmerich. He seems like a man who spent the last 15 years in a cryo-chamber, woke up without knowing how much time had passed, and wrote this film without the slightest hint of self-doubt. So embarrassing is the film in the way it parades its ‘heart’ to the audience with violins in the background as decent actors like Patrick Wilson and Halle Berry take their actor-ly stance to deliver corny lines like “I love you more than there are stars in the sky” before her seemingly one-way mission to save the planet, almost as if everyone had given up by then. And even the actors did not have the energy to argue with a director who was flirting with the lines of insanity and genius.
In 2011, during a routine space mission where astronauts Brian Harper [Wilson] and Jo Fowler [Berry] are repairing a satellite, he encounters a strange black swarm that attacks their shuttle. When Harper tries telling the people on earth about what he saw, he is humiliated and fired. A decade later, there is something off about the Moon’s orbit which is discovered by an Alt-Right conspiracy theorist, KC Hauseman [played by Game of Thrones John Bradley], who believes that the moon is actually a ‘megastructure,’ and was built by aliens. His cat is called Fuzz Aldrin, and when he gets laughed at by everyone for his ‘discovery’ that the moon being off orbit will cause natural calamities, he [loudly] thinks to himself, “What would Elon [Musk] do?”
Moonfall is the kind of film, where even when the world is ending, former spouses somehow find the time to be passive aggressive with each other on the phone.
The final stretch of Moonfall is so firmly in conspiracy theory-weds-improbable sci-fi territory, that one could even see as Emmerich trying to appease half of America, who believe that NASA is lying to the American citizens on one side, and also probably refuting the pandemic as a hoax on the other. As someone who is perennially rooting for a filmmaker to be as ‘nutty’ with their ambition for a film as possible, I could not help but gasp at Emmerich’s audacity to paint an Alt-Right conspiracy theorist as the martyr of the film, especially in a nation deep in the wells of disinformation. It is downright irresponsible, if nothing else.
But again, for anyone to take Moonfall as credible science, there is probably a dozen resources on the internet that will confirm their biases. Sometimes, Total Devastation is the state-of-mind of a director desperately trying to bounce back in a world that is briskly hurtling towards its end.
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