‘Moonfall’ lunar fail; ‘Woman in the House’ genre parody


‘MOONFALL’ Rated PG-13

The choice was to see either the space odyssey “Moonfall” or the aptly-titled “Jackass Forever,” which if you’ve seen any of the previous iterations of the franchise is all you really need to know, and besides you can wait because it’s bound to show up on a streaming service.

After seeing “Moonfall,” a better option would have been to gaze at the moon. This attempt at the marvel of intergalactic thrills may not be irredeemably horrible or completely bereft of any entertainment value, but it’s an arguable point.

One goes into this movie with the expectation that director Roland Emmerich, having crafted better spectacles in blockbusters like “Independence Day” and “The Day After Tomorrow,” will deliver the goods when the world is on the brink of annihilation.

Well, “Moonfall” does have its moments of upheaval and destruction but the special effects come off as a bit shopworn and not very engaging, as the malevolent force threatening space missions can only be described as something kind of menacing.

With an opening 10 years in the past, NASA astronauts Jo Fowler (Halle Berry) and Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson) are on a space shuttle ride that goes horribly wrong and a third member of the team is cast adrift.

Brian is the fall guy for mission failure and in the present day he’s been out of work ever since. His wife divorced him and remarried, and his estranged son, Sonny (Charlie Plummer), has been arrested for drug possession after a high-speed chase.

Meanwhile, conspiracy theorist KC Houseman (John Bradley) is completely absorbed with everything related to outer space, even going so far as to impersonate professors to spout his hypotheses.

Falsely referring to himself as Dr. Houseman, KC is the first to detect that a mysterious force has knocked the Moon from its orbit, hurling it on a collision course with Earth and ending life as we know it.

With only weeks before impact with our planet, Jo Fowler, who has risen to the top ranks of NASA, has an idea to save our civilization but she’s going to need former top pilot Brian to mount a seemingly impossible final mission into space.

The gravity of the situation is readily apparent when tidal waves wipe out large swathes of Los Angeles, and elsewhere earthquakes and atmospheric disruptions cause havoc.

The idea of sending the alcoholic former astronaut Brian back into space seems incomprehensible to the NASA folks other than his old teammate Jo, but there is really no choice.

More puzzling is how the fake Dr. Houseman becomes the third crew member. After all, though he figured out the threat first, this is the same guy who has a newspaper headline about gay aliens plastered on his wall.

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy made public a plan to land a man on the Moon by the end of the decade, resulting in the Apollo 11 lunar mission and the “giant leap for mankind.” Now along comes “Moonfall” to spoil his vision.

One thing “Moonfall” might have going for it is that watching this disaster of the orbital tilt threatening our demise just might take our minds off the tough, challenging times we are dealing with in the here and now.


When you are a prolific reader, it is not uncommon to learn new words to add to your vocabulary. A less frequent occurrence is picking up a new one watching a Netflix series, but that’s what happens with “The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window.”

Whew, that’s a long title that would never fit on a marquee. The new word, at least for me, was “ombrophobia,” which even spell check does not seem to recognize. Fear of rain is the definition, and it greatly affects Kristen Bell’s Anna in this dark comedy’s genre parody.

“The Woman in the House,” an episode series that lends itself to an easy binge-watching experience, is in the spirit of any number of Lifetime Channel movies where the female protagonist knows too much and is in some sort of peril.

Divorced and living alone in a big house, Anna excessively drinks red wine and pops pills for her anxiety, which is due to her ongoing grief over the death of her young daughter.

A handsome new neighbor, widower Neil (Tom Riley), moves into the house across the street with his young daughter Emma (Samsara Yett), and Anna takes notice with a welcoming attitude until strange things happen such as witnessing a murder (or so she thinks).

While other neighbors and even the police start to think she’s gone batty, Anna decides to play detective, and things start to spiral wildly out of control. Even her ex-husband (Michael Ealy) gets dragged into the situation.

“The Woman in the House” is entertaining for its spoof of the genre, and the twist in the final scene leaves open the possibility for another season.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.