Let’s forget, for the moment, that Roland Emmerich films tend to be surface-level event pictures, typically geared toward disaster-style epics, usually grounded in science fiction themes, are heavy on special effects, and have razor-thin dialogue, characters, and settings. We could apply this logic toward his latest film, “Moonfall,” descending on theaters today.

I’ll be one of many to admit that 1996’s “Independence Day” is a fun film and “Moonfall” fills this same quadrant, if not effectively, then admirably. Emmerich has a style about his movies that harkens back to disaster epics that populated theaters in the 70s.

Halle Berry plays Jo Fowler, an administrator with NASA who discovers that the earth’s moon is falling out of orbit and will eventually crash down on the planet. Patrick Wilson plays Brian Harper, one of those “true blue” astronauts whose good intentions get him into more trouble than the moon rapidly crashing upon the earth. Brian is a rogue one (no, that’s not a “Star Wars” reference!) and, during a mission, loses one of his crewmates as the space shuttle is attacked by an intelligent swarm, originating from a fissure on the moon. Of course, no one believes his story and is ridiculed out of the space program.

If I said that Berry felt more at home in Stewart Baird’s “Executive Decision” than she does here, I don’t think you’d have trouble believing that. To her credit, the actress is engaging when the story and the dialogue engage her. Wilson is a bit more engaging, offering double duty as a struggling father to Charlie Plummer’s Sonny and a wayward astronaut trying to save the world.

The special effects are frenetic, as one might expect if the moon was poised to come crashing down on the earth, which is where “Moonfall” gets interesting. Emmerich and writing partners Harald Klosser and Spenser Cohen focused on the science within fiction. The moon and the earth constantly push and pull at each other’s gravity, keeping our oceans in place and our feet firmly on terra firma. It also helps keep our sense of navigation in check; the writing trio connected “The Core” with “Mission to Mars” in this story.

NASA supported the production with other scientific possibilities previously explored in other science fiction stories. Neither the disaster nor its effects are out of the realm of possibility. Yet, our characters don’t make their inclusion, either in the disaster or in the resolution, feasible, owing to the shifting gravity, causing our characters to make questionable decisions as secrets are revealed. By this point in the film, though, we’re not so concerned over decisions as much as we’re amazed at the sheer lunacy as concepts.

The real hero in “Moonfall” is John Bradley’s, K. C. Houseman. Houseman’s Ritalin probably needs to be checked, but the character defines the story’s motives, actions, and resolution, bringing levity to the situations serving as a sanity check. The performance is over-the-top, but Bradley manages to break out of Berry’s and Wilson’s orbits, elevating the wooden characters.

Michael Peña plays Tom Lopez, the plucky comic relief of sorts. Interestingly, Stanley Tucci was initially set to play the role of Tom, and Josh Gad was initially supposed to play Houseman; the film benefits from the change-up.

Look, “Moonfall” gets more right in the science department than it does in the fiction department, which is why I admire it. It is one of the most expensive independent films ever produced, and every dollar is on the screen effects-wise. The other hallmarks of an Emmerich film are abundant, and we accept the chaos on the screen, but only to a certain extent. Just as in “Independence Day,“ “2012,” “The Day After Tomorrow,” Emmerich uses chaos to explore the human condition.

“Moonfall” doesn’t work nearly as much as it thinks it does, but it is just satisfying enough to enjoy popcorn, a soda, and a good time at the movies.