Review: Apollo 18 (15) / Directed by: Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego / Written by: Brian Miller / Starring: Warren Christie, Ryan Robbins, Ali Liebert, Lloyd Owen / Released: Out Now
Late last year there was a fair amount of buzz around Apollo 18, it was a found footage movie in space after all and had Timur Bekmambetov attached as a producer. The intended March release date came and went and the film quietly snuck out into cinemas in early September. This is usually a sign that a movie is not good and whilst it's true Apollo 18 is not good, not good at all, it’s not Evil Things either.
The film purports to be missing and recently released classified footage from a secret moon landing that occurred in the 70s and was released via a website called LunarTruth.com. We begin briefly meeting three astronauts and get a quick glimpse into their lives as they are informed that their particular Apollo mission to the moon has been cancelled. They then receive word that the mission will go ahead as planned but will be classified and off the record as they wish to again beat the Russians into space. We then pick up on the moon as two of the astronauts are sent to the surface in a lunar module. After many tedious scenes of life in space which are neither thrilling nor fascinating, the astronauts discover an abandoned Russian vessel on the surface and signs that something horrible has happened. One of the astronauts gets attacked, things start to go wrong and we find out that there may be something alive on the moon.
Have you seen the average season one episode of the X-Files entitled Space? Then you have basically seen this movie just better executed on every level. I hate that I have to resort to this but ‘found footage’ has to make sense in that context. I believe that when you are pretending that you have edited together recently discovered footage then by putting a score over the action you are kind of betraying your concept and worse, insulting the intelligence of your audience. From a certain standpoint it also makes sense that a mission to the moon would be documented but only to an extent. Here they have the camera on at all times and the camera as operated by one or two people is sometimes clearly held by a third person that the astronauts seemingly have no idea about, again careless. Finally are we to believe that the discovery made by the astronauts in this film, a discovery no other mission to space has ever made, would just be leaked carelessly by a government that still declares Area 51 does not exist?
I may just be picking holes and taking this too seriously but this kind of thing matters when you are expecting an audience to take your film seriously. Found footage movies are an easy way for studios to make money but it is fast becoming a lazy stand by in lieu of good story telling. Apollo 18 would probably work better as a web series run off the website it claims to be from. You would be better off watching the superior found footage web series Marble Hornets which is available on YouTube and is actually creepy and believable and best of all free.
The acting in this film is also some of the worst I have seen for a while. All three astronauts are supposed to be the ‘be all you can be’ type of proud American but it’s so shallow and hollow a performance that you never care what happens to them. Towards the end of the film an event takes place that actually makes the film come alive for a brief moment but is then ruined by an unbelievable decision made by one of these idiots combined with some of the worst effects shots from a film released in cinemas.
Avoid Apollo 18 at all costs, it’s lazy, boring and hollow and your valuable time is better spent elsewhere.