As a culture, we are obsessed with world-ending events right now. Going through a pandemic that has already claimed five million lives probably has a lot to do with that. If you’re a movie trailer fanatic like JP Nunez and myself, you may already be asking yourself how I would even be mentioning a dramatic television series like Station Eleven in the same conversation with the effects-laden disaster film Moonfall. But, the only fundamental divergence is in how they tackle the end of the world. Moonfall aims to dazzle with the escapism of alien life intruding on earth, while Station Eleven’s approach relies less on visual stimulation, speaking more to the reality of the last two years. In a post-Covid world, a pandemic series can be just as enthralling as anything Roland Emmerich, the director of Independence Day, can throw our way. And my god, do I love a good disaster film.
Since the start of the pandemic, films like Contagion and Outbreak re-entered weekly top ten charts on streaming services, with viewers likely hoping to get ideas on how to approach their new surreal reality. Written by Emily St. John Mandel and published in 2014, Station Eleven was a novel long before Covid-19 changed the world, chronicling the lives of an acting troupe moving between settlements who have devoted themselves to keeping the last shred of art alive in a thinning landscape of a 20-year pandemic. By the trailer’s tone, you can quickly gather this is a somber portrait of a dark time that invites the efficacy of healing by connecting us with those bleaker days at the start of the pandemic last year.
I have to admit I enjoy seeing Game of Thrones’ John Bradley in a comedic supporting role to Patrick Wilson and Halle Berry. Still, Moonfall is the kind of blockbuster film we’re about to see more of from studios looking for big returns after last year. Unable to risk themselves on smaller, independent projects, studios will try to capitalize on big-budget films with potential sequels and franchises. Moonfall has the effects, budget, and heroics of an end-of-the-world thriller and perhaps the longevity of sequels if it survives at the box office.
Though it looks fun, chaotic, and exciting, Moonfall also seems to lack the gravitas of hope-from-dread that Station Eleven achieves in its trailer. A feeling all of us are now achingly familiar with. While both deal with the end of humanity in resoundingly different ways, Station Eleven feels more human in the whimper of society’s fall, making it easy to draw comparisons to Stephen King’s The Stand or Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. The scene at the start of the trailer with a father (Yesterday’s Himesh Patel) pushing grocery carriages through a snowy parking lot with his young daughter (Matilda Lawler) is highly reminiscent of the latter. We can always find awe in destruction, but stories that touch our hearts are forever.
Patrick Somerville, who created last year’s Made for Love, will be the showrunner for Station Eleven, which looks to follow in the footsteps of another HBO series he wrote on, the stunningly underrated The Leftovers. Hiro Murai (Barry) will direct all ten episodes of the first season, and stars include Happiest Season’s Mackenzie Davis, The Harder They Fall‘s Danielle Deadwyler, Grammy award-nominated R&B singer Deborah Cox, and Joe Pingue. The series looks like it will go back and forth from the start of the flu outbreak to a period twenty years in the future as it does in the novel.
Love it or hate it, we’re beginning our post-Covid years. Movies, books, songs, etc., written while in lockdown, will start appearing in abundance over the next few years as the entertainment industry begins to find steadier footing and artists move back to normalcy. Based on the overwhelming number of people watching pandemic thrillers last year, I suspect heavy end-of-the-world themes coming, especially in the sci-fi category. We will see more films like Moonfall, presenting the end of days through an explosive array of high-octane carnage for those who want to give their minds a well-deserved break from apocalypse-by-Covid scenarios—indulging themselves by popping popcorn to alternative world-ending depictions in their theater seats. Whereas anyone healing in an opposing manner will have dramas such as Station Eleven emerge, telling stories of hope through sparks of imagination and the persistence of humanity’s creativity. However, they could end up being harder to find.
Station Eleven is set to premiere on HBO Max on December 16, and Moonfall lands in theaters on February 4.
So what do you think of the trailers for Moonfall and Station Eleven? Do you agree with Sean that these trailers are what to expect in the science fiction genre? Is there one you can’t wait to see over another? Let us know what your favorites are in the comments! And if you’re looking for horror trailers, we’ve got you covered!