Apollo 18 (2011)

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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 2.5/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 4/10

APOLLO 18 (2011) - Gonzalo López-Gallego

Throughout the years of the movie industry, many "found footage" movies have been continuously made. By now, it is unwise to make another one, unless one has a terrific idea with a well-written script. Apollo 18 comes forward as an ingenious idea that came to be terribly executed. It is similar to being given an aesthetic golden spoon and then using it to cut a steak.

Apollo 18, 19, and 20 are the most recent landing missions in the chronicle of Moon missions. Unfortunately, all of them were cancelled before ever being launched. Apollo 18 is a fictional film that stresses on the idea that the cancelled Apollo 18 mission actually landed on the moon in December 1974 but never returned, and as a result the United States has never launched another expedition to the Moon. Like The Blair Witch ProjectApollo 18 was shot in a "found-footage style," made supposedly as the lost footage of the Apollo 18 mission.

Warren Christie portrays Pilot Captain Ben Anderson while Lloyd Owen portrays Commander Nate Walker, the two men operating the lunar module Liberty. The film chronicles the experiences of the two men as they slowly encounter what appears to be a hostile alien species hiding on the Moon. Based on Apollo 18, the aliens are the "reason we've never gone back to the moon."

Unlike other found footage films like The Blair Witch Project or even Paranormal ActivityApollo 18 suffers from a big problem, that a majority of the footage cannot be comprehended, not from the elemental sense but in the literal sense. Most of the footage bears the "I have no idea what I'm looking at" tone, whether it is because of static or simply unclear images. Is it a moon crater? Is it the module that the humans are operating?

However, the biggest flaw in Apollo 18 is the narrative. The film is 86 minutes long, yet I can guarantee the movie will feel two hours long. The plot does not escalate until halfway in, in which finally the film found the way to capture our attention and possibly our interest. The worst element of the film that makes the pacing feel even more boring is the imagery: two men in astronaut suits walking very slowly. At their floating pace, the film becomes undeniably tedious. The suspense is gone, without any tone or intensity. Similar to the Moon itself, Apollo 18 bears no atmosphere. From the New York Magazine, the film is just "[86] minutes of dead air."

The two lead performances are fine. They are not the most convincing but they are enough to push the plot forward. However, if observed from the literal sense, the two leads would be the worst astronauts ever. People like Ben and Nate are to be trained professionally on how to react to unexpected situations. These are government-funded operations yet somehow the two astronauts react like men from our neighborhood. Even though the characters are written like this to connect to the audience more, it is simply illogical to execute the storyline with these kind of characters. Unless one knows nothing about the space program, Apollo 18 will find extreme difficulty to captivate the audience.

On the contrary, if pushed past the suspension of disbelief, Apollo 18 is superior over a fair amount of other found footage films. When its plot finally begins to intensify, the film narrowly carries an eerie mood. The premise is intriguing, the effects are decent, and the last ten minutes are impressively satisfying. However, that is not saying much. That is like saying World War II was "better" than the Vietnam War. In the end, they are all bad.

In conclusion, Apollo 18 is as boring as the landscape of the Moon itself. The pacing is exceedingly faulty and the editing itself is fragmented. The suspense fails to kick in until halfway in, and the film in its entirety feels long even at 86 minutes. That being said, Apollo 18 catches up a little near the end, but in the overall picture, it fails from all technicalities necessary to make a good movie. But in simple words, Apollo 18 is bad in ways that you expect it to be bad, but not in the "quantity" you expect it to be bad, at least when it is compared to other lame found footage films. By the way, in the same year as Apollo 18's theatrical release,Transformers: Dark of the Moon was released as well. If Apollo 18 was about the two astronauts encountering Decepticons in "found footage" form, now we are talking.


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