When it comes to director Roland Emmerich you know precisely what you’re going to get, and Moonfall is no exception. His brand is ‘disaster’ and his films have become event viewing.

In fact, he is widely regarded as being responsible for the resurgence of the disaster movie and since busting the box office in 1996 with Independence Day, Emmerich has churned out a prolific amount of high-concept titles like The Day After Tomorrow and 2012. He might not be the most respected filmmaker around but he is a consistent one and plays to his audience.

Emmerich’s latest offering is Moonfall, an Armageddon-like sci-fi flick that is arguably his dumbest venture yet. It takes a highly ridiculed conspiracy theory, treats it as fact, and consequently soars beyond the stratosphere of expectations, delivering 130 minutes of pure unadulterated fun.

Following an attack by an unexplained force during a space mission 12-years prior to the film’s events, the story follows an amateur astrologist and conspiracy theorist (John Bradley from Game of Thrones) who discovers that the moon has come off of its orbit and is on course to enter Earth’s atmosphere. As we all know, the ocean’s tides are dictated by the gravitational pull of the moon’s proximity to Earth, so you can imagine what happens when Emmerich uses that as the basis of a new blockbuster.

Enlisting the help of a disgraced astronaut (Patrick Wilson) and the operations director of NASA (Halle Berry), the trio hop on a rocket, penetrate the moon’s surface, and hope to set off a nuclear bomb to get things back on track again. Simple. Meanwhile the Earth is being thrown into turmoil as “gravity waves” pulverise cities and chunks of moon debris rain down upon the planet. Suffice to say it’s silly stuff, but darn if it’s not enormously entertaining.

Emmerich isn’t wasting his time thinking about stupid things like physics and logic, and he doesn’t want us to waste our time either. Instead he pushes the movie along with urgency, neglecting all credibility and keeping all disbelief suspended up high. He also relies heavily on the conspiracy theory (we won’t reveal that here), which is so batsh–t crazy that there’s nothing to lose by throwing your hands in the air and just enjoying the ride.

Emmerich’s films typically showcase star-studded ensembles, however Wilson, Berry and Bradley are all we get in Moonfall. And while Michael Pena, Charlie Plummer and a cameo from Donald Sutherland help fill the bill, it’s hardly the A-list extravaganza of his previous outings.

Wilson is good as the disgraced astronaut who first encountered the unknown force 12 years prior (but wasn’t believed), while Berry conjures nightmarish flashbacks to Catwoman as she delivers one abysmal line after another. The saving grace, however, is Bradley, who brings a wholesomeness and comedic charm to the story. His enthusiasm and sense of wonder are infectious and he single-handedly gives moviegoers a reason to turn up.

Also a staple trope of an Emmerich disaster film is the devastation, and here he dishes that up in spades, with one notable distinction; a lack of people. Cities are reduced to rubble as mega tsunamis flush through the streets. And yet all of the panic and screaming and chaos that populated his previous films are gone. Those streets are empty and presumably the buildings too – one might hypothesise that in the midst of a global pandemic the studio’s one hard-lined brief to Emmerich was “no mass casualties”, and fair enough.

Silly, preposterous and dumb are all worthy adjectives to describe Moonfall, but words like extravagant, exciting and fun also do the trick. It’s easy to forget that the fundamental purpose of cinema is escapism, and that the whole cinematic journey began with Jules Verne adaptations by pioneers like Georges Méliès, who cared more about entertaining the audience than they did about pacifying whatever rudimentary notions of science they may have had. If you temper your expectations and leave your disbelief at the door, Moonfall delivers a super-fun big screen experience that demands almost nothing from you.

In cinemas: February 3, 2022
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Halle Berry, John Bradley
Directed by: Roland Emmerich