Apollo 18

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1772240/

Starring: Warren Christie, Lloyd Owen, Ryan Robbins

Review in a nutshell: Yet another “startling revelations thanks to found footage” type film that, yet again, wants you to believe that actors who are known for their recurring roles in film and television are in fact not instantly recognizable and are – dun dun dunnn – three doomed astronauts destined to never return home.

I watched two movies the other night. “Zack and Miri Make A Porno,” and “Apollo 18.” One of them was really unexpectedly good.

The other was Apollo 18.

Okay, so, here’s the thing. I really dislike “found footage” movies. Not because of the premise, but because they have so many tropes that are unique to their genre. There is always something that gives away the game, something that tells the viewer “So really, this was made by a film studio and not a whit of this is real.” The original Blair Witch Project did this, but it did it first, and it didn’t do it so blatantly as everything that’s followed it in the milieu. But there’s always something – be it a camera angle that couldn’t have been used given the nature of the scene, or some piece of out-of-place dialogue (for period pieces), or a reflection of an object, or what-have-you. Apollo 18 hits. Every. Single. One. Of. These.

Ignoring the brief scene where a city skyline is somewhat visible on the moon (cue the conspiracy theorists and “moon city” hyperbole), the film is actually pretty solid as an action-suspense film. But as a purported “This is real! This is happening! FEAR IT!” movie, there are a lot of things that simply break the illusion. Over. And over. And over again. For instance, the “creep shots.” You know, the shots that these films need to make sure you know that there’s a monster over there? They abound in the film, up to and including the climactic finale of the film, in which one of our plucky space heroes has actually (I checked) put the camera in a completely different part of the Russian LK lander he’s commandeered in order to get off the moon – a camera that did not have long-range wireless transmission capacity, mind you – yet we have shot-for-shot reactions and recordings of his face, emotions and all, during his final moments. Or when the astronauts are running for their lives from the big scary space rock spider, and they take a long, rolling tumble, the camera somehow pans back and stays focused on the monster (which roars. In space. Because the moon has enough atmosphere to transmit sound, right?) for entirely too long.

And that brings up the biggest disappointment for me on this film. The continued rupturing of the illusion. The click-click-click sounds the monsters make when recorded by the exterior cameras. The fact that the monsters are supposed to like the dark and the cold, yet for some reason they thrive in the warm, brightly lit interior of the lander. Or how the creatures are heavily implied to have been the real “moon rocks” brought back on the previous Apollo missions (which were done on the side of the moon facing the sun, where it gets pretty hot, let’s remember) because so many of those rocks have gone “missing,” yet the creatures are shown to breed so quickly and prolifically that if this were true, we’d be overrun by now. The fact that these itty bitty hand held cameras, that still use reels of film, are somehow also transmitting everything they see back to the lunar module, and also back to mission control on Earth, and somehow no one back at home ever notices them? I mean, we clearly see at least two of these run around in the lander module, they’re recorded on film, and the astronauts never see them when checking the previous night’s tapes.

I wanted to like Apollo 18. I really did. I like films about monsters. I like films about space. I like films about monsters in space. I even tend to sometimes like conspiracy theory films. I liked Lunopolis, for crying out loud. A lot! But it just fell down in so many ways. The suspense wasn’t believable. The cameras went places and did things they shouldn’t have. How did the cameras without wireless transmitters get their film back to Earth if everyone died on this mission? How do we know what the astronaut was weeping about when his camera was in a completely different part of the module?

It tried. It did. But it didn’t know what it wanted to be. And that earns it a rating of Crap. Not Total or Utter Crap. But Crap, nonetheless.

Where I found it: Netflix. I do believe I’m sensing a trend.

How much I paid for it: Thankfully, only 86 minutes. It felt longer. So, so much longer.

Points of interest: Honestly, the best part of this movie was when I went to IMDB to get the official movie link, and an advertisement for “Don Jon” was plastered all over the site, with a little sign saying “Joseph Gordon-Levitt is taking over our homepage!”
Okay, actually, it was kind of cool that the producers spent time researching the design and technology of the Soviet LK vehicle, but that’s about it.

The Money Shot: elmet full of moon spiders. The only thing that was even remotely cool about this movie. Helmet full of moon spiders.

Related Links:
Zack and Miri Make a Porno

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