Moonfall 4K Blu-ray Review


Moonfall 4K Blu-ray
4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital
Lionsgate Films | 2022 | 124 min | Rated PG-13 | Apr 26, 2022

Okay, let’s face it, if you have seen a trailer or any of the webisode promos or even know the name, Roland Emmerich, then you know exactly what to expect and what you will get when you sit down to watch his latest world-ending disaster flick, Moonfall.  To be honest, Moonfall is rather light on the disaster elements, especially when compared to the alien carnage unleashed in Independence Day or natures attempt to cleanse the planet in 2012.  Roland was determined to make a sci-fi movie this time, and to that end most of the action, at least in the final act, is almost entirely set in outer space.

Simply summarized, the moon’s orbit is decaying; a startling fact discovered by K.C. Houseman (John Bradley), the unlikely prophet of doom that everyone dismisses as a crackpot until things get real.  When NASA confirms the data, they also notice a hole drilled into the moon’s mantle venting gas.  They immediately call in deputy director, Jocinda Fowler (Halle Berry) who immediate summons her friend and fellow astronaut, Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson).  These two served on a disastrous mission ten years prior that led to the death of a crew member and Brian’s termination from NASA.  It was this same mission that introduced us to the sinister alien swarm bent on destroying every last human in the galaxy; the same alien currently burrowed into the moon and causing its orbital decay.  Our unlikely heroes must figure out what is going on and how to stop it before the increasing gravity of the approaching moon tears the Earth apart.

The pacing for Moonfall is very fast; almost too fast despite the 124-minute runtime.  Roland even notes in his commentary they had to add in a scene near the beginning to establish some relationships for Brian, his wife, and son.  The film wastes no time in hastily getting through the setup so we can get to the action in the second and third acts, and at times the movie seems cut like a promotional trailer.  Roland wants us to be in space as much as possible in Moonfall, and even the quick cuts back to Earth during the third act serve as mere reminders of who our heroes are fighting for.  Brian and Jo both have kids at stake.  Jo’s husband just so happens to be the general in charge of launching nukes at the moon as a last ditch effort, while Brian’s wife has since divorced and remarried causing further strain with Brian’s relationship with his boy, Sonny (Charlie Plummer) who make the sweeping character arc of felon doing jail time to family savior all in a few days.  Most of the drama seems terribly manufactured, trying to make us care about a select few people when the entire human race is at stake.

Moonfall tries to maintain some roots in realism, at least when it comes to orbital decay and the natural events that would occur if the moon did shift its orbit.  Sadly, this all translates to some mediocre disaster scenes of swelling tides, a massive “gravity wave”, and fiery meteor showers as the mantle of the moon breaks apart and rains down on the planet.  Aside from the gravity wave there is nothing we haven’t seen before and often it’s been done better.  2012 set the bar pretty high and this doesn’t come close.   Where Moonfall does excel is in the imaginative origin story for both the moon, our planet and the people on it, but even this exposition seems a bit shoehorned into the final act, as we rapidly learn that we are descendants of humans from across the galaxy; a society so sophisticated they invented and then relied on AI, who anyone who has seen the Matrix knows, can finish the story.  The AI revolts and kills most all the humans, while survivors send out arks to keep humanity alive.  The moon is one such ark, the only ark to survive actually that finds its way to our solar system and creates the Earth then populates it with their/our DNA.  Interestingly enough, this origin of humanity along with the belief the moon is a hollow megastructure is more popular than you might think.  It’s certainly a premise that will send God-fearing creationists to social media to rage against the movie.

What Moonfall might lack in pacing and story engagement is more than made up for with its outstanding presentation, featuring one of the best 4K transfers of recent memory partly due to it being filmed with 8K cameras.  The level of detail and image quality is off the charts.  Combined with a flawless Dolby Vision/HDR treatment, the blackness of space maintains crisp details with every star and alien swarm particle avoiding any hint of crush.  Roland did his best to film as much practically as possible and considering this was one of very few films made during the pandemic, everything was shot indoors on a soundstage.  What could have easily been a day shoot at the Griffith observatory ended up having to be constructed and recreated on a set, as were most all other location shots.  Even the film’s exciting car chase was done indoors with cars that floated on compressed air and moved around by stagehands then enhanced with CG.

The CG is really great, especially the stuff in space, while some of the disaster sequences were visually average.  The tidal wave early on was kind of lame and the meteor swarm raining down on NYC was equally as average.  The shuttle launch during the gravity wave was the one standout moment of everything happening on Earth, but once you get to space and inside the moon, the effects dial up to eleven.

Audiophiles will not be disappointed with the film’s Dolby Atmos mix that envelops you with the sounds of the apocalypse.  Meteor showers streak across the sky (and your ceiling speakers if you have them) only to impact the Earth with a powerful LFE rumble from your subwoofer.  All channels in the surround mix are used with precision and even the dialogue is balanced to the center channel so you can still hear the characters amidst the chaos.  This is some reference quality audio right here that you will likely use to show off your sound system.

Moonfall has some excellent bonus materials; at least when compared to the last dozen or so movies I’ve reviewed that had little to none.  First up is the Audio Commentary with Director/Writer Roland Emmerich and Writer/Producer/Composer Harald Kloser.  Both chime in periodically with useful and entertaining facts about the production of the film, but often they fall into the trap of merely narrating what is happening on the screen.  When you’re ready for the deep dive into how Moonfall was conceived and made you have Against Impossible Odds: Making Moonfall, an hour-long multi-part documentary that covers nearly every element of production and the challenges shooting during a pandemic.   Exploring the Moon: Past, Present and Future might actually teach you something, with its detailed analysis of the moon using historians, scientists, and even some guys from NASA.  Last up are four short viral-style videos called Dr. K.C. Houseman Speaks the Truth! Where Houseman desperately tries to get you to believe his outlandish theories when not being distracted by his cat.

As I mentioned at the start, most people know exactly what to expect when they sit down to watch Moonfall.  What they might not expect is a pristine video presentation and one of the best sound mixes to rattle my home theater in nearly a year.  Moonfall’s story is as preposterous as the notion that the moon is hollow, and we are descendants from ancestors across the cosmos, but if you are willing to hit Pause on your brain while hitting Play on the DVD remote you are certain to have a good time.  The quality of this 4K release is reason enough to earn an upgrade from streaming or standard Blu-ray.

Author: Mark Smith
I've been an avid gamer since I stumbled upon ZORK running in my local Radio Shack in 1980. Ten years later I was working for Sierra Online. Since then I've owned nearly every game system and most of the games to go with them. Not sure if 40+ years of gaming qualifies me to write reviews, but I do it anyway.

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