Sunday, November 20, 2011

Film Review: Apollo 18 (2011)


Apollo 18 is not what you expect it to be. The ads promise a sort of Blair Witch Project/Paranormal Activity in outer space...and had it been just that we might've been in store for a much better film. But...it's not.

There are just way too many implausibilities and issues with Apollo 18 to simply excuse it as just another "fucked in space" film. The "found footage" approach doesn't really help it, either. In fact...the entire thing was probably best left unfound.

Here let us discuss...shall we?

Apparently, the Weinstein brothers were able to attain footage that was mysteriously uploaded to LunarTruth.com regarding a mission to the moon that didn't go too well. You see, back in 1973...a space mission to the moon was officially cancelled. However, it seems that, unofficially, the U.S. Department of Defense proceeded with the mission and sent 3 guys off to the moon on a top secret expedition because someone suspected something weird. That "someone" is never really revealed. We're just left to assume that the U.S. Government is full of heartless bastards that cover shit up all the time. Far fetched, I know.


So, three hapless American astronauts are shot off into the lunar unknown.

The cast is rather underwhelming. The film mostly focuses on two actors for the better part of the running time...so, we should be treated to an intimate character study as well as the comradery of the two lead characters. Some of the same comradery that has enabled us to connect with older...much better films. Unfortunately, all of that is strangely absent here. Probably because of the trappings of the whole "found footage" premise. You see, "found footage" is an extremely tricky device...one that doesn't always lend itself to things like careful character development and comradery.

Of course, you have your exceptions...like Reverend Cotton Marcus from The Last Exorcism...or the fragile intimacy shared between Amy and Megan from the recent Megan is Missing. There are exceptions that solely depend on the director's approach to the actors in the film. Without that keen direction, the actors are left to just portray believable reality stars without any real soul or any kind of believable depth. Such is the case with this film. Personally, I didn't really care if Nate (Lloyd Owen) survived or not. And the only reason I almost, kinda cared about Ben (Warren Christie) was because he had a wife and kid. But, that felt a little forced at times...especially towards the finale. Ultimately, the actors are never really given an opportunity to invest any kind of genuine emotion into their characters.


Speaking of the finale...I won't spoil it for you here...but, seriously?? Fuckin' moon rocks?!? That reference won't ever mean anything to you unless you've already seen the film. So, fret not...it won't spoil anything. However, there might be some SPOILERIFIC STUFF AHEAD...so, if you are really intent on going into this film fresh-minded...then, please just skip to the score now.

I get that the filmmakers and producers of Apollo 18 were trying to market this film to a rabid horror fan base...a fan base that happens to be one of the most discerning audiences amongst all the genres. So, it really makes no sense to trick us by instilling belief that we are in for a scary ghost story on the moon movie. Just strike all of that possession-looking stuff out of your mind because this film has more in common with Transformers than it does to Event Horizon. Actually, had the filmmakers done away with the whole "found footage" gimmick...the film might've been much more enjoyable in a much more traditional manner. It also might've been cool to explore something more of an Evil Dead in outer space...would've been much more interesting than fuckin' moon rocks.

Apollo 18 does have some cool stuff and offers some decent tension during some scenes, which reminds the viewer of much better films. But, the payoff for these tension-building scenes are never realized (sometimes the camera pans around causing the viewer to anticipate something...never actually seeing a goddamn thing) and when you finally know what the threat is...you've basically checked out of the film emotionally anyway...so, the entire journey seems sort of futile.


 
1.5 out of 5



Thanks for reading,



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