Courtesy Lionsgate

Many critics downrated Don’t Look Up because its satirical asteroid-as-climate-change metaphor was too bluntly political. Moonfall, with a similar premise, maneuvers around the agitprop . . . and that is absolutely the best that can be said about it.

The basic plot—the moon is falling out of orbit—is silly enough. But writer/director Roland Emmerich also ladles on a planetoid’s worth of crank theories about ancient aliens and sentient AIs cribbed from other, better films (2001: A Space Odyssey and Terminator most directly). 

Patrick Wilson displays no particular spark as Brian Harper, a down-on-his-luck, government-betrayed space jockey we’ve all seen before. John Bradley mugs gamely as comic-relief dude Dr. Houseman, but not gamely enough. Halle Berry as acting NASA chief Jo Fowler furrows her brow earnestly. And Donald Sutherland shows up for three minutes, which isn’t long enough.

There are subplots about estranged children and of course a ton of apocalyptic digital effects, thrown at the screen more or less at random—the moon’s gravity is supercharged because that means you can show rocks and cars and water shooting up into the air. Scenes of coastal flooding nod vaguely in the direction of our current global warming woes, but Emmerich studiously avoids any commentary on our recent experience with government ineptitude. Nobody, for instance, denies that the moon is falling, even though the moon falling seems a lot less likely than climate change or the existence of safe, effective vaccines. 

As with relevance, so with wit and romance: the movie has precious little of the first, and none of the second. This is for people who want to see landscapes blow up and large things dropped onto other large things. Those are the only pleasures on offer. It doesn’t seem like asking for the moon to wish for more. PG-13, 130 min.

Wide release in theaters.