Crash Analysis: APOLLO 18 (2011, USA/Canada)

apollo18posterIn space, no one can hear you if communications are down

The last Apollo mission to the moon ends up as a fight for life, limb and liberty.

Director of photography, José David Montero delivers by bringing us a 1974 mockumentary that truly captures the feel of film for the period.

Yes, this is a “found footage” horror in the likes of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, and CLOVERFIELD, to name a few. Admittedly, I’m one of the few who enjoys found footage and mockumentaries. After all, they usually come with a realistic feel already built in that adds to the suspense, and creates an underlying tension.

APOLLO 18 chronicles the final Apollo mission of astronauts Anderson (Warren Christie), Walker (Lloyd Owen), and Grey (Ryan Robbins). On this mission, however, the trio of next American heroes is doing a little assignment for the Department of Defense and, well… If I tell you, I’ll have to give you a noogie.

But I can say that the acting was strong and the special visual effects, with Wray J. Douglas (of “Stargate” television fame) at the helm, were fairly solid. And although I enjoyed the feel of this picture, something was clearly lacking. Sure, two guys are trapped in a module on the moon and you can’t get anymore claustrophobic than that, but that was expected. Even worse, when they head out on their rover to collect rocks, the claustrophobia becomes skintight. Yet, suspense seemed to be lacking – and that may be because there was much that seemed too easy for the audience to determine. Though the filmmaker did throw us a couple of curves (see spoilers below), director Gonzalo López-Gallego just didn’t deliver the shocks and scares – but relied on old-fashioned smoke and mirrors for the most part. Regardless, my nerves didn’t even begin to rattle.

Although an interesting premise, first time feature writer Brian Miller brought us something I know he’ll want to rewrite and shoot again a few years down the road. And that’s the sad thing about APOLLO 18, it could have been intriguing and awesome. Instead, it was a middle-of-the-road contender.


It was cool to include a failed Soviet mission, and alien spider things as rocks was a great touch, but they didn’t take these elements far enough. One person who hated the movie joked that nothing could exist on the moon, and that all creatures need sun, oxygen, and water. I guess that guy never heard of extremophiles – creatures living outside of such normal expectations. Hell, who knows what wild things lurk in the depths of the Universe.

What I couldn’t buy was the DOD representative getting involved about why an astronaut had to remain stranded. It was akin to the killer in a bad movie explaining why and how he committed murder before being taken off to jail. But there was a plot hole the size of a black hole: How the hell did the footage get to Earth when the film could not have been recovered since the Soviet and American modules crashed together? Who knows, maybe the two ships melded together in an orbit around the moon only to be picked up later by Apollo 19…

2.5 out of 5 stars

(Photo from Gabosff.)

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