Roland Emmerich continues his quest to become the king of disaster films with the deliriously stupidly fun Moonfall. Starring Halle Berry, Patrick Wilson, and John Bradley, this one plays like a destructive highlight reel for all of Emmerich’s greatest hits. If you don’t think about it, it’s pretty fun. Lionsgate brings Moonfall to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a beauty of a Dolby Vision HDR transfer and an aggressive Atmos audio mix. The movie itself may not be the greatest, but this is an impeccable disc to demo your rig. Recommended
Read our Moonfall - Blu-ray Review
There’s something wrong with the moon, it’s going to crash into the earth… DUN DUN DUNNNNNN! If it weren’t for the brilliant fast food astrophysicist KC Houseman (John Bradley), the world would never know of their certain doom. Now it’s up to KC, NASA commander Jocinda Fowler (Halle Berry), and her former disgraced partner Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson) to launch a last-ditch effort mission to the moon to stop it from crashing into our planet as it's being propelled by a diabolical intergalactic force!
Take all of the worldly destruction you’ve already seen from Independence Day, 2012, The Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day Regurgitation, roll them into a ball, and throw a model of the moon at it - and you have Moonfall. Take all of the character cliches, the estranged father/son relationship, images of famous landmarks being obliterated either by falling debris or a giant tidal wave, the nerdy wannabe fringe scientist no one believes but is right the entire time and you’ve seen Moonfall even without buying a ticket and sitting your buns down in the theater with a massive bucket of popcorn.
All that said, when I was the lone person sitting in the middle of a giant IMAX screening of Moonfall - I wasn’t disappointed. I mean, this is a pretty damn stupid movie, but it was a good stupid movie. It’s truly turn off your brain and much down popcorn cinematic cheeseball fun. With these movies, I appreciate that Emmerich with his co-writers Harold Klosar (also the film’s composer) and Spencer Cohen just go for it. They set up the scenario punch the gas and take you for the ride. Why is there a high-speed shootout chase with the moon about to crash into Earth? Well, to answer a question with a question - why wouldn’t there be? It may save a lot of its otherworldly explanations for what’s going on to the very last possible moment, but by that time you’ve already gone that far, you may as well see where it goes.
And for all of the CGI-enhanced goofery and shenanigans, this is probably Emmerichs most energetic and engaging movie since 2012. In recent years he’s taken a stab at straight Die Hard ripoff action with White House Down, a period thriller with Anonymous, a recreation of important historical events with Stonewall, and the wildly entertaining WWII epic Midway. At the end of the day, Emmerich proves his best strengths are with big-budget loud spectacle flicks that play well on a huge screen with a loud sound system.
For a storyteller who can’t really manage human drama well without a bowl of thick cliche soup, Emmerich mines some great performances from his actors. Halle Berry and Patrick Wilson all could be doing other better shows, but they look like they’re genuinely having a great time in their respective astronaut characters. Then you have John Bradley as KC Housman who easily steals the show. It’s actually a lot of fun watching him recount all of these deep conspiracy theory threads with complete conviction. The rest of the cast is there for filler and padding - including a very odd appearance from Donald Sutherland whose sole purpose is to drop some conspiracy theory mind bombs and depart.
While this film leaves a window open for a sequel, it’s not likely to happen. With theaters not back in full swing, this film came out at the worst time for a big-budget feature. This would have been a better summer release when it’s bloody hotter than hell outside and audiences are driven into theaters for easy entertainment, over-priced food, and a bath of air conditioning. It’s just not a great release for February just when folks are edging out of their pandemic lifestyle. With a reported budget north of $140million - it fell far short at the global box office. Which is actually kinda too bad. I mean if Emmerich was going to make a sequel to one of his movies I’d rather it be this than another Independence Day or the Stargate reboot that’s been in development for a few years now. So it goes. Despite this flop, I’m sure Emmerich will be back with another high-concept sci-fi disaster epic sooner or later.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Moonfall arrives on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray in a two-disc 4K UHD + Blu-ray + Digital set from Lionsgate. The 4K version is pressed on a BD-100 disc with the 1080p version getting a standard BD-50 disc. The discs are housed in a standard eco-friendly case with an identical slipcover. The disc loads to an animated main menu with traditional navigation options. The included digital copy is not Movies Anywhere compatible.
Make no mistake - Moonfall is a very dark movie by nature steeped in heavy shadows coupled with the deep void of outer space. That said, as dark as this movie gets, fine details never suffer. Facial features, costuming, and some impressive pieces of production design all come through perfectly. Even the CGI malevolent techno-swarm of doom is well rendered and never has that dreaded weightless quality of bad visual effects. The opening sequence of the movie tells you exactly what you’re going to get - deep dark shadows, brilliant whites - either from the moon or various spacecraft - and small flashes of rich primaries.
Dolby Vision (and HDR10) is well applied here allowing those deep dark shadows to enjoy some nuanced lighting gradience. This version of Earth must be averse to overhead lighting or lamps. Whenever Patrick Wilson is in his garage working on the car or Houseman is working at a computer it’s always with the least amount of light leaving a monitor or a small screen to do that heavy lifting - regardless it looks really good and image depth is always outstanding. When the moon gets closer to earth the lighting effects of moon rocks rocketing into the atmosphere is dynamite stuff showing a full range of brilliant colors with lovely specular highlights. Crush is never an issue and whites are crisp and bold without blooming issues.
My lone gripe - and this isn’t necessarily a transfer issue but a problem with how the movie was made - you can tell when the cast is just occupying space in front of a green screen. You have these vivid and clear three-dimensional characters and objects and suddenly nothing beyond five feet is in focus. It’s obvious in 1080p and it’s really obvious in 4K HDR. When the accompanying wide shot of impending doom is gloriously captured with rich details and deep focus, the reverse shot of people doing their best Spielberg wonder-gaze just looks cheap. Maybe not a big enough issue to swipe the score over but it’s a frustration I have nonetheless.
Both the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and 1080p Blu-rays of Moonfall score with an intense demo-worthy Atmos audio experience. And from a director like Roland Emmerich. Right from the jump, there’s near-constant surround activity. Quiet scenes aren’t long for this world so there are very few moments where it doesn’t feel like all channels are firing. Throughout, cast dialog and Klosar’s thunderous score are clear without issue against the overwhelming barrage of destruction and doom in the soundscape.
With the malevolent techno-swarm of doom, there is some damned beautiful imaging through the channels. You have this amazing swirling activity moving through the rears to the sides into the front/center and up into the height channels and it’s glorious! Tightly confined spaces like the various spacecraft and underground bunkers bring a welcomely tight claustrophobic atmosphere to the imaging. There’s a lovely action-packed finale that really packs a wallop - it may be amazingly silly but it sounds incredible! Between the malevolent techno-swarm of doom and all of the explosions and tidal waves crashing all around, there’s some great LFE rumbling the subs throughout as well. Much like the image quality, it might not be the greatest movie ever but you have some delicious A/V demo material to showcase here.
Not to leave anything at the door, Lionsgate actually delivers some pretty decent bonus features for Moonfall. The audio commentary is a fun and engaging listen giving plenty of detail about the making of the flick, but the hour-long making-of is really good. Considering most releases get all of five or ten minutes in that arena without any real depth, it was really cool to see some genuinely well-produced and informative bonus features for a new release. All bonus features are found on the 4K disc as well as the 1080p Blu-ray.
On the surface, Moonfall isn’t a great movie, and far from the best efforts of Roland Emmerich - but it’s one of the Master of Disaster’s better efforts in quite a while. It may be dumb, but it’s fun. Had the film hit theaters during the summer it might have done better by giving it some room to explore that sequel that’s pitched at the end. Lionsgate delivers a first-rate 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release for Moonfall. The Dolby Vision HDR transfer is gorgeous and the Atmos mix is thunderously aggressive for a richly immersive auditory experience. On top of that, there are some genuinely good bonus features to pick through too. If you just need some good turn-off-the-brain fun, Moonfall doesn’t disappoint and for that, I’m calling it Recommended.