5 September 2011

APOLLO 18- Review

As I espoused over on Den of Geek last week, the movies give mankind little reason to visit the Moon. Nothing nice ever happens there. And so, in what should have been an innovative and sensible development in the popular trend of found-footage horror films, Apollo 18 purports to show the bad shit that really happened there. Well, it's no Apollo 13.

Comprised from hours upon hours of classified footage uploaded to the website lunartruth.com, we're presented with 88 minutes of a fateful Apollo mission, manned by Commander Nathan Walker and Captain Ben Anderson. Officially, there were only 17 Apollo missions, and so the events that occur upon Walker and Anderson's arrival on the Moon reveal the stunning truth about "why we never went back."

There is really no point in keeping up the pretence that this film is actually real footage, because even the film itself can't manage that conceit for all of its running time. Its first, fundamental mistake is in its casting- if you're ever going to convince an audience that they're looking at real footage, you have to use unknown actors. This is what sometimes leads to poor performances in these films. Apollo 18 casts Lloyd Owen, who played Henry Jones Sr. in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, and Warren Christie, who has recently starred in the super-powered US drama Alphas. And they still don't give great performances.

To be entirely fair to Owen and Christie, they don't really have characters to play. The premise of astronauts encountering something unexpected on the Moon is really as far as this film gets, and Walker and Anderson are the kind of characters who have families, in lieu of personalities. It's not enough to really invest in them at any point, because they're really quite bland characters. Neither does it help that the film has nowhere to go once it arrives on the Moon.

The grey, chilly landscape of the Moon isn't exactly claustrophobic, and although it's a dangerous place to be, even more so with the addition of gribblies, there's nary a scare to be had. In fact, it even has the brass balls to borrow from another, more successful found-footage hit, Paranormal Activity. I suppose this at least negates any possibility that a tenth instalment in that series would be a Jason X-style affair, but it shows the lack of imagination that has been applied to a premise that could potentially have had a fair bit of mileage.

As it stands, all of the intrigue you can wring out of Apollo 18 can be found in the premise. It's a really uninspired found-footage film that uses the format as a gimmick, and also fails to cohere when you see how the plot pans out. The film makes baby steps towards an interesting sub-plot inspired by the space race with Russia, and Cold War paranoia, but it doesn't come together. It's symptomatic of the sad realisation that there is no more mystique about space travel, at least not as far as the Moon is concerned. It's sorely disappointing stuff.

Apollo 18 is now showing in cinemas nationwide.
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If you've seen Apollo 18, why not share your comments below? OK, so it's not as bad as Transformers 3...

I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch. 

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