One small step, once every few years: when will Roland Emmerich stop going to space?

You might think, given the events of the last year and a half, that the dystopian disaster genre really ought to be dead in a ditch – don’t we all, なので Black Mirror’s Charlie Brooker has suggested, need something a bit more cheery to get us through the long, cold winter? もしそうなら, Roland Emmerich clearly didn’t get the memo. For the German film-maker is back with yet another story of the Earth’s imminent collapse, Moonfall, centred on mysterious catastrophic events that appear to be linked to our sleeping satellite.

A strange sense of deja vu accompanies the movie’s new trailer, released earlier this week. Stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before, but didn’t humanity’s home also suffer from catastrophic events (caused by an alien invasion) in 1996’s Independence Day? And didn’t something similar happen in 2004’s The Day After Tomorrow (caused this time by extreme weather?) Then there was Emmerich’s film 2012, in which that year’s catastrophic events were just to do with the fact that it was … 上手 … 2012. Might Emmerich have somehow found himself transported to an old episode of the Twilight Zone, in which he is somehow trapped in the creative equivalent of a Möbius strip?

公平であるために, he has, in the past decade, embarked on a mission to make movies that do not follow exactly the same basic plot each time, trotting out the terrorist thriller White House Down, the gay rights drama Stonewall and the wartime tale Midway among others. But nobody buys tickets to see an Emmerich film unless they can be confident it is going to feature at least a few scenes of overturning cars, world-famous American buildings collapsing and giant tsunamis. So it’s no surprise that he has returned to his first love – epic CGI mega-destruction.

The only question is whether there is anything original left for him to posit as the source of humankind’s imminent annihilation. The Moonfall trailer picks up on the kind of sci-fi conspiracy theory silliness that inspired Independence Day, in which it turns out that Area 51 really is home to the remains of dead extraterrestrials (presumably from an earlier scout mission preceding the later mass attack). Donald Sutherland seems to think something very funny was going on with the moon landings, so perhaps it will be aliens again.

どちらにしても, it would be fair to say that Emmerich is doubling down when it comes to far-out space nonsense: it appears that the moon has been hollowed out and filled with spectacular tech by unknown forces. (また, this is the guy who taught us that the ancient Egyptians trained woolly mammoths to help them build the pyramids in 10,000 BC.)

Has Jeff Bezos upset the Earth’s gravitational pull by secretly moving all his Amazon warehouses into space to avoid the pesky taxman? Or is this some 2001: A Space Odyssey-style discovery of impossibly advanced extraterrestrial technology on our doorstep?

We won’t find out until February, when Moonfall hits cinemas – but let’s face it, we can probably predict the main details of the film based on previous experience of Emmerich disaster movies: the White House will almost certainly get blown up again (he has also destroyed the Statue of Liberty at least twice), there will be not-so subtle criticism of US political and military supremacy, and the whole thing will feature more scientific inaccuracies than the average issue of Anti-Vaxxer Weekly.

It just wouldn’t be an Emmerich flick if the script wasn’t sillier than a moon rocket made from cheese. Yet this is a film-maker whose movies have made a staggering $3bn worldwide, and is listed as the 15th highest-grossing director of all time. All of which rather suggests that it’s us, the great popcorn-munching, film-going public, who might just be the dumb ones.