Friday, September 2, 2011

Apollo 18 Review

As I was leaving the movie theater after watching Apollo 18, I stopped by the men's room. Nothing seemed amiss. Then the smell hit me. Somebody had left a Depardieu on the floor. This was a metaphor of how I felt about Apollo 18. It's a competent movie but something was really wrong. There are spoilers in this review but if you've seen the trailer, you pretty much know what happens.

Apollo 18 plays like found footage type of movie. See Blair Witch Project. (1999) What you see looks like it was shot by cameras inside and outside of an Apollo space mission to the moon. Here's the plot that the footage shows you. Two astronauts, Walker (Lloyd Owen) and Anderson (Warren Christie) are sent to the moon on a secret Department of Defense mission to install ICBM detectors. They find a Russian craft and a dead cosmonaut. When they discover the American flag that they had planted was missing, the astronauts decide to leave. However, something damages the communication relays outside of the lunar module. Walker goes out to investigate and is attacked by a creature which burrows into his chest. Anderson removes the creature but they have trouble communicating with earth for instructions on how to leave the moon.

First let me give some credit to director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego and the actors. He does a skillful job of filming this movie like it was footage shot with real Apollo cameras. The footage feels like it's from the seventies. And he does deliver some scares with a sudden noise here and there. The special effects are very good also. Lloyd Owen and Warren Christie are excellent as astronauts, first duty bound and later turn desperate as they face death.

But the big stink is the screenplay by Brian Miller. There's a lack of depth in the dialogue. For example, a Department of Defense (DoD) official on the radio discloses some of the secrets but says he kept it from the astronauts because he was playing it close to the vest. How about describing the mission? The lack of exposition creates logic issues. And logic is the biggest problem. Apollo 18 makes no sense. Why did the DoD send these guys to the moon? Walker surmises that they're guinea pigs. I mean since the DoD knew that there was hostile alien life on the moon, why send astronauts there? Did somebody at the DoD say, "Hey that Russian got killed by alien monsters, let's see if our American boys get killed by those monsters." Or was the real purpose to make a cheap thriller about men stuck in space and in danger? Okay that's cynical. Later in the movie, Walker starts to go mad. Why? I don't know. I'm guessing that Miller needed this plot point to create some contrived action.

But the big howler are the aliens. The basic rule regarding modern monster movies is you had better show the monster. There is no excuse in this day and age with CGI, not to. Yes, I understand certain films like 2001: A Space Odyssey did not show the alien. But that's for artistic reasons. This ain't art. And in this movie, it is supposed to be found footage so maybe they're a little fuzzy. Okay, but there were many scenes which were pretty clear. The monsters in this movie were spider like moon rocks. There were no clear scenes of the beasties. Even the one that burrowed into Walker was not shot cleanly. Another problem is how can these things live in the vacuum of space? There's no air on the moon and the radiation is deadly. Regardless, since man does not live on the moon, why did the monster burrow into Walker? And get this. When Anderson removes the creature from Walker, he leaves the thing inside the ship!

Apollo 18 is a basically one of those goofy fifties science fiction movie. It even has one of those scary epilogues where a silent scroll reminds you of the amount moon rocks brought back and that some were given away to foreign dignitaries. Oh great, it's now Invasion of the Body Snatchers? But like those awful fifties science fiction movies, Apollo 18 is illogical. Save your money this Labor Day weekend. If you want to see this movie, wait for it to come out on DVD. The grade is C.

1 comment:

Turfdad said...

Hey Bernie-I stumbled across your blog with that "next blog" thing.
I was on the fence about seeing this movie, now I'm not. We have similar interests so I'll stop by again. Take it easy.