Sep 07 2011

Unreal Movie Review: Apollo 18

Published by at 12:00 pm under Movies,Reviews

2 out of 5 stars

You know, I’m tempted to start to be sick of “found footage” horror films, but really, you can’t argue with results. I appreciate the format in many effective horror films, The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity and Rec among them (let’s not talk about sequels), and there is something about authenticity that makes these films scarier than their traditionally filmed counterparts much of the time.

So I was actually quite intrigued when I heard about a “lost” NASA mission to the moon that had footage mysteriously turn up online. Obviously fake as fake can get, but a rather clever concept for a film and subsequent viral marketing campaign.

Apollo 18 takes a great concept, runs with it for three feet, then trips over itself and fumbles the ball out of bounds. There was a lot of potential here, but the film is sabotaged by a disregard for both logic and the entire concept of film editing, which makes the movie borderline unwatchable.

“STOP PLAYING NICKELBACK THROUGH MY HEADSET!”

If you’re like me, you’ve always wondered why we haven’t gone back to the moon after 40 years. It seems strange that with all our technological advances, we couldn’t be sending manned missions there every other week, as there is currently more processing power in my Xbox than in the entire moon lander from that era.

The sad truth is massive budget cuts are to blame, and we’ve lost the will to explore in order to fund and fight pointless wars at home. That’s not a very effective concept for a film however, and so Apollo 18 has a different explanation.

A three man team is sent into space for a secret Department of Defense mission using Apollo 18 as a moniker. One man, Lieutenant Colonel John Grey, pilots the orbiter around Earth while two others, Commander Nathan Walker and Captain Benjamin Anderson head to the moon for some secretive purposes.

One of the film’s 8,000 camera filters.

They’re told to place emitters around the area that will act as an early warning system against Soviet missiles, but when they find a derelict Russian spacecraft landed in a crater down the road, and a dead Cosmonaut halfway down a crater, they suspect something else is afoot.

As the three toed footprint on the poster implies, there’s something else on the moon, something that would make us want to stay the hell away for good. Walker soon descends into madness after the discovery, and Anderson has to do his best to maintain his wits and figure out an escape plan.

As I said, I really do love the concept, and even think it’s handled well in the film. The “other” that’s discovered is subtly crafted and well designed, and this really could have been a good movie.

“Alas, poor Yorick.”

But why isn’t it? Well, there’s a huge disregard for actual science, as it’s depicted that the gravity inside the lander is earth-like, while things a few feet away on the surface are quite a bit bouncier. In fact, there’s so much bad science here, NASA actually had to abandon its involvement with the film, deeming it too “off-the-wall.” This is the same NASA who worked with Transformers 3 for a few segments earlier this year, so you know it’s pretty bad.

Moreover, the film’s real issue is the editing, which is the most schizophrenic of practically any movie I’ve ever seen. They’re playing up the “found footage” angle to an extreme degree, claiming the movie is assembled from bits and pieces of 84 hours that has leaked. But the way it’s put together is just unwatchable. No scene or camera angle lasts longer than 2.5 seconds. The film is constantly jumping across cameras and filters, and throwing in unnecessary distortion effects at every turn. It actually takes WORK to watch, and it’s so heavy on quick cuts and attempting “authenticity” by mucking with the footage that your head will be swimming by the end.

It’s a shame, because such a concept deserved a better treatment. Low-budget horror has produced some of the best films in the genre in recent memory, and with a few changes, Apollo 18 might have fit in that category. In its current form however? It’s better off being shot into the sun.

2 out of 5 stars





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9 responses so far

  • OTWarrior

    I agree, this looked liked a good concept for a “found footage film”

    The gravity on the lander also made me think “What? Are they on the moon?” Plus it was hard to tell who was who, especailly when it can to figuring out who was on Liberty and who was on Freedom. The only name I can remember is “JD”, which I suspect was put there for that reason.

    WARNING!!!
    ***********Spoilers************

    I disliked the creatures having thin, insect legs. That would not be practical on the moon. If they evolved there, they should be more lumpy looking. I liked the idea of them camouflaging as rocks though. The possession thing was too obvious though.
    ***********End of Spoilers************

  • Rob J

    I was gonna check this out but I am pissed it doesn’t pay the slightest bit of attention to science so I won’t haha

    Also it sounds exactly like a movie version of the new black ops nazi zombie map “Moon”

  • Freelance Spy

    My biggest issue with this film is that there is no way that you can do a found footage film if there is no conceivable way in hell that the footage could ever be found.

    **********************Spoiler****************

    Everyone dies. The Command module is destroyed and so is any chance of them getting the film canisters from the million and one cameras of varying quality that they apparently took to the moon back to earth.

    It’s not like NASA was recording all the footage through telemetry at ground control because the film makes a big point about how they are unable to communicate with NASA and vice versa.

    If the footage managed to survive the crash between the Soviet Module and the Command Module, how exactly did it get found? It’s not like we sent a retrieval mission to the moon, if the footage didn’t end up crashing back down to the moon it ended up drifting off into deep space. Finding it would be like tracking down a copy of the constitution written on an electron, in a water molecule in the pacific ocean.

    Oh and the less said about the rock spiders the better.

  • Jim Lahey

    I never wanted to see this film. Thank you for confirming what I had already suspected. This film doesn’t work in the found film subset of horror because a) you have to be able to find the footage somehow, which doesn’t seem likely since humans haven’t been back to the moon since Apollo 17 (18 in this universe), and b) THERE WAS NO APOLLO 18! You ca see the launches from Cape Canaveral from miles and miles away, and you’re telling me nobody within the vacinity saw or heard anything? Do you know how much noise launching a spaceship at Mach 15 causes? A metric shit-ton. Essentially, the movie’s entire premise is based on the fact that the United States government is somehow capable of launching not just a mere satellite, but an entire freaking shuttle without any evidence, such as the massive amount of money constructing and launching a shuttle would take, or any person in NASA spilling the beans (NASA is a HUGE organization around that time, even if it has dwindled in current times).

  • B. St.Clair

    ******Spoilers Maybe?************
    One thing that really pissed me off was they treated the audience like they were stupid. They kept pointing out the blatantly obvious hints that something bad was “out there”. The little highlighting circles and lingering too long on the forehead-blood-drip scene. Another thing that irritated me was how hard they tried to make it look like it was real “found” footage. The whole “lunartruth.com” thing was irritating. After that I was curious about the website, it wasn’t even there. Either that or they were trying even harder than I thought and were making the website look like it was “taken down” because you could only find it in google cache.

    Either way I agree with you about the potential. I really wanted to like this movie, I had high hopes for it. They just dragged the concept through the dirt and threw it at the audience. It was disappointing.

  • Jess

    if this was a true found-footage film.. why would be the “cast” known as actors and actresses in Imdb? see what i mean?

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

  • http://contributor.yahoo.com/user/921108/matthew_heydon.html Matthew Heydon

    Of course its fake. As people have already stated on this site. The science of it is stupid, the most obvious part is when they are walking, they are walking just like they would on earth. On the moon I am pretty sure that you can take one jump and fly about 15 to 20 feet. Not to mention they could just have jumped out of the craters. The people look just as modern people do today. Even people in the Military had different standards back then, then now. I know cause I am in the Military. Also while the footage attempted to look old, if you ever look at something that was shot in the 70’s you could clearly tell that it is a newer looking film set up. However concept was fun to watch and I actually enjoyed the movie. If you read the back of the movie cover and actually thought you were going to see a real footage movie and believed the story could be even slightly right, well them I am sorry but you are not that smart of a person. Also that writer that asked the question of how they could find the footage, that is a very good point my friend. Could they have launched another unknown mission? Sure They knew they were not going to come back so of course they had a mission ready to get the footage, however the good point that was made is the two crafts that crashed into one another would not have been recovered and found. Its not like they could safely explore the crash site. I must point out the thing I did like about the movie was the aliens were rocks. I think that is a very good thought on why we have yet to find any life on the moon or mars aside from the fact that there just may not be other life. I must say for a low budget movie it was pretty good almost as good as death of a ghost hunter. However I don’t think its fair to compare it with the blare which project, that movie sucked.

  • …..

    In the movie they had an American flag, I’m pretty sure you can’t rip up one or let it touch the ground. I don’t care what anyone says I think Apollo 18 happened. People the whole movie isn’t real footage I think probably 96% of it is. At the end if you go to the deleted scenes, one of the astronauts makes it and has an interview with the DOD and says they died in space. He has footage also you know. They also brought back rocks from that mission. They were sold as souvenirs, after that they went missing. At the end it show how those astronauts apparently died, but wait NONE of their bodies were recovered I could say so much more reasons why this happened. NASA could’ve covered it up by saying it was a satellite or something instead of a rocket. The government tells the truth, but not all the time well probably lies 80% of the time to not make the US citizens worried or in a kaos. I don’t care what anyone tells me so don’t try and bribe me into believing this Apollo mission didn’t happen I don’t want to hear it. Apollo 18 happened I mean seriously with all this technology today I bet we could go to the moon everyday. I know we’re in like a big money failure but maybe we should stop sending money everywhere else and help our own country for a little. I know before I said I could go on forever and I did but I could say so so much more and being that I’m a 14 year old I have way more common sense than everyone else. I love space and stuff but I think I know more than what you idiots are saying.

  • http://defenseissues.wordpress.com/ Picard578

    Look, Dots, you’re idiot. IT IS A MOVIE, MOVIE IS A MADE-UP REALITY.

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