Meteor Moon (2020) poster

Meteor Moon (2020)

Rating:


USA. 2020.

Crew

Director – Brian Nowak, Screenplay – Joe Roche, Producer – David Michael Latt, Photography – Marcus Friedlander, Music – Chris Cano, Mikel Shane Prather & Chris Ridenhour, Visual Effects Supervisor – Glenn Campbell, Production Design – Karen Rich. Production Company – The Asylum.

Cast

Michael Broderick (Jim Lawson), Chris Boudreaux (Paul Lawson), Dominique Swain (General Houser), Jeff Prater (Bob Foster), Carol Kaufman (Admiral Cynthia Keller), Anna Harr (Major Diaz), Emily Killian (Stacey Lawson), Gary Private (George Lyon), Adam Hollick (Private Neiman/Malcom), Tiana Masaniai (Captain Erin Hayes), Kally Khourshid (Cadet Julie Matthews)


Plot

A meteor has collided with the Moon and knocked it out of orbit on a collision course with the Earth. This is having catastrophic effects on the weather, while causing earthquakes and reversals of the magnetic poles. With three hours before the Moon collides, former Xvision shuttle commander Jim Lawson, who previously quit over an accident in space that lost lives, is recruited by his brother Paul to pilot a mission to save the Earth. Lawson is required to fly the Excalibur shuttle through the debris field so that they can activate a series of antimatter bombs and create a miniature black hole that will drag the Moon back into its orbit. Jim and Paul set out across the collapsing countryside. The launch is equally problematic with unforeseen technical troubles and the impending collision disrupting telemetry, requiring them to improvise in space.


The disaster movie has become the province of the Syfy Channel and other channels during the latter half of the 2000s through the 2010s. In this time, there have been a great many cheap and usually formulaic efforts churned out. (For a more detailed listing of these, see my essay Disaster Movies). The low-budget production company The Asylum, best known for their Mockbusters and deliberately ridiculous killer shark films, has dabbled in a number of these with the likes of 2012: Doomsday (2007), Titanic II (2009), 100° Below 0 (2012), 500 MPH Storm (2012), Airplane vs Volcano (2013), Asteroid vs Earth (2014), San Andreas Quake (2015), Geo-Disaster (2017), Oceans Rising (2017), Apocalypse of Ice (2020), Asteroid-a-Geddon (2020) and Collision Earth (2020).

Meteor Moon seems to have been intended as a mockbuster version of Roland Emmerich’s Moonfall (2022) – although it came out in December 2020, eighteen months before Moonfall, which was delayed to February of 2022 by the pandemic. The script for comes from Joe Roche, better known as a comedy performer, who has also written Collision Earth, Alien Conquest (2021), Devil’s Triangle (2021), Planet Dune (2021), Robot Apocalypse (2021) and 4 Horsemen: Apocalypse (2022), along with another Moonfall copy Moon Crash (2022) for The Asylum.

Moving the Moon closer to the Earth is something that would have vastly more catastrophic effect than the ones portrayed in the film. Scientists have calculated what is called the Roche Limit (presumably no relation to screenwriter Joe Roche), which is the closest distance an orbiting body like the moon can get to a planetary body before it ends up being torn apart by tidal forces. After The Moon is destroyed, most of the debris would form into rings akin to those around Saturn. During this, the Earth would be bombarded by massive chunks of rocks, particularly if the Moon is moving with velocity. This would have devastating impact – entire cities obliterated, earthquakes and tsunamis, debris thrown into the air creating climate catastrophe on a massive scale. All of which is well beyond the typical effects budget for The Asylum. In the film, at most we get the impression that the party are encountering a bad storm as they drive cross country.

An open-top coupe launched in space in Meteor Moon (2020)
An open-top coupe launched in space

Joe Roche approaches such a premise with a babble of technical jargon that almost makes the proceedings seem believable. The major glaring one that got me was when the ground control crew start giving out coordinates in space using latitude and longitude. Things become entertainingly ridiculous once the film gets into orbit. Roche’s script seems premised on having something go wrong every few minutes and the astronauts having to improvise solutions, including at one point impelling a powerless shuttle using the oxygen supplies as propellant. In one of the more entertainingly absurd scenes, the two astronauts set off driving through space in an open-top coupe powered by oxygen tanks – an image that seems to have been clearly inspired by Elon Musk’s launch of a Tesla into space in 2018.

The Asylum’s films are always fairly variable effects-wise. The film shies away from depicting a lot of the disaster occurring – indeed, in the opening scenes, the disaster is represented by repurposed footage from tv news clips. That said, the film improves markedly once it gets into orbit and there are some fine, professional looking shots of the Excalibur flying around the debris field and so on.

Meteor Moon was a directorial debut for Brian Nowak who had previously worked assorted positions in the industry from acting, script supervisor and graphic designer. Nowak subsequently went on to make the killer shark film Megalodon Rising (2021) and Bullet Train Down (2022) for The Asylum.


Trailer here


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