I like what Emmerich does with the camera; he is closer to dePalma than Bay, so I’ll watch his stuff. But he is clearly in the Bay character universe where manly heroes work on cars, scientists are always baffled, the military is feckless, and even clever institutions are background noise.
This is a long cinematic tradition that to my mind contributes to an antiscience society that fosters Q and Trump. I’m not sure what to do about it, because this style of storytelling works. Countering it is the trend of what I’ve called folding, where the viewer is prompted to be on the side of reality, goofing on the artifice of the form.
It is easy to see why this was a bomb; it takes itself too seriously even for the target audience. The world building is poor, but it has a clever idea. Humans like us once existed, eliminated social strife and mastered what the writers call AI, which then turned on its masters.
In an attempt to survive, these beings created huge, star-power spheres, the only one of which that survives is the moon. That one created the Earth and seeded it with what became us. The rogue AI has sought it out and we are caught in a battle between two intelligences, two AI systems created by our billions of years ago ancestors who look, live and speak just like we do. The ‘bad’ AI is using the Moon to kill the planet, and the good AI of the moon is helpless without modern humans, in the moon more or less randomly, on whom this all depends.
Meanwhile, we follow three profoundly unengaging family units with parent-child dramas. The physical worlds are unengaging, both the moon’s machinery and the earth’s disasters. A sequel is set up, but it is hard to imagine anyone funding it other than the Chinese, who are set up here as helpful and honourable.
Ted’s Evaluation — 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.