This image is from the official trailer for “Moonshot,” distributed by HBO Max.

In an extraterrestrial world filled with superordinate sights and a beautiful cascade of stars, a love story blooms. “Moonshot” is cinematically complex, bestowing a futuristic and astronomic twist on the typical enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy film. Starring Cole Sprouse (“Five Feet Apart”) and Lana Condor (“To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You”), this movie and its striking cinematography provide an interesting interpretation of an otherwise cliché storyline. Based on their previous stints in romantic comedies, Sprouse and Condor are not surprising choices for their respective roles and do not fail to deliver a relatively engaging film. And the hopeless romantic feeling of a good love story is hard to wear out. Even though there was a missed opportunity for a resonating and intricate love story, “Moonshot” is nonetheless an interesting perspective on a regular romantic comedy plot.

Predominantly taking place on a spaceship traveling to Mars, the film focuses on lonely college students Walt and Sophie in a futuristic dystopia where the planet Mars has been newly terraformed to support human life. Both have big dreams that end up leading them on a spaceship to Mars. Sophie immediately develops a dislike for the chatty and disoriented Walt, but they grow closer as fate forces them together on a journey of self-reflection, companionship and love in the endless expanse of the galaxy. The plot in itself is nothing new, but I’m a sucker for a good rom-com. The movie brushed on some topics of substance, such as feeling alone in such a vast universe, but their resolution of these conflicts seemed slightly too convenient. 

Perhaps the most outstanding element of the movie was its cinematography and production design. It’s a little upsetting that the plot could not rival the beautiful, otherworldly images captured in the film. There was no shortage of aesthetically pleasing scenes, often showcasing the beauty of Earth and the societally-developed Mars. Shots of Sprouse’s and Condor’s silhouettes floating aimlessly in space next to enormous planets is truly awe-inspiring. The movie sparks surface-level philosophical thought about the world and its position in the universe, but the writers could have expanded on this topic to produce a more sophisticated and resonating film. However, the simplicity of the plot paired with the abundant shots of the galaxy almost imbue the movie with a touch of serenity. A small part of me enjoyed its plainness, but a larger part of me was left wanting more. Especially after watching Sprouse in “Five Feet Apart,” which is a remarkable love story between two terminally-ill teenagers, I expected the script to live up to his past role and truly showcase the acting abilities I know Sprouse and Condor are both capable of. 

Critics and audience ratings suggest that “Moonshot” is charming, but a missed opportunity to launch a new era of romantic comedies. It seems as though the production level was creatively advanced where the script fell short. For two capable actors, I expected a plot that made me feel something, feel anything at all. But one aspect I have to give credit to the script for is the strength of Condor’s character. “My biggest note for the script that I wanted to really make sure was known was that I did not want this movie to be a girl following a boy,” Condor commented. “I just really didn’t want that. I just felt like that isn’t the narrative that I really wanted to create.” It took a large portion of the film for Condor’s character to be won over by Walt, and Sophie was able to keep a clear head and stay true to her passions amidst their budding romance. That being said, the movie had a waste of revolutionary potential for being so technically advanced. “Moonshot” is an analytically simple film with an unexpected twist, but overall left me hoping for more.

Daily Arts Writer Zara Manna can be reached at