Thank you Mr. Emmerich. Thank you for never changing. I’ve become so anxious going to the movies recently, not knowing what I’m going to think of them. I expected to find The Matrix Resurrections refreshing; I was left with bitter disappointment. I expected to be ambivalent about Spider-Man: Far From Home; my inner child soared with joy when the Spider-Men assembled. But as I settle down to watch Moonfall, I know exactly how it will make me feel.
I know that I’ll feel nothing at the incomprehensible death toll of planet-wide ecological disaster. I know that only the special effects will give me joy, but the distant, bored kind of joy that you get from a disappointing back garden fireworks display. I know that the conspiracy theorist character played by a high-profile actor will charm me against my will and despite the trash surrounding him (it was John Bradley this time around).
I know all of this because I’ve seen a Rolan Emmerich film before, which means I’ve seen them all.
There’s an aspect of human psychology called affective forecasting. It refers to peoples’ ability (or rather, inability) to predict their emotional state in the future, whether that’s the specific emotion you’ll feel, the intensity of that emotion, or its duration. Numerous studies have shown that, generally speaking, we’re really bad at this. We expect our emotions to be stronger and last longer than they end up being. We overcompensate, and become anxious.
But here in this cinema, I am calm. When the ceaseless discharge of cheesy dialogue hits, it washes over me. I saw it coming, and braced for impact. When the unrelenting blare of music and destruction throughout the entire second half buffets me, I don’t cover my ears. I am a leaf on the wind. When the Lexus hops across an infinite icy chasm because Michael Peña put it into sport mode, I’m not upset, I’m not even disappointed. It’s just the way things are.
There’s something to be said about predicting how something will make you feel, and then feeling exactly that. It’s a kind of calm, a strange empowerment. Through Emmerich, I know myself. I am safe. I am in control. This is a bad movie, and I knew it would be. I am the master of my universe. 2 out of 5 stars.