September 2, 2011
Brian Miller (screenplay), Cory Goodman
Warren Christie as: Benjamin Anderson
Lloyd Owen as: Nathan Walker
Ryan Robbins as: John Grey
Apollo 18 is supposedly ‘based on true events’ that occurred on a 1974 lunar mission undertaken by US astronauts Benjamin Anderson and Nathan Walker who find waiting for them a Russian spacecraft and the mysterious remains of it’s astronaut. Upon closer inspection of the body, Nate finds what could be either an oddly placed pebble or something alien, and soon enough one of the little suckers finds its way into his own space helmet. As he grows sicker and sicker, Ben tries to get Mission Control to bring them home but they’ve for some reason become increasingly uncooperative.
First of all, can we just agree to give up on the ‘found footage’ concept? Yes, it added some intrigue to The Blair Witch Project for those of us who saw it on early release and didn’t know it was a hoax (about ten people). And Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego’s Apollo 18 takes the idea a step further by transporting their grainy Westinghouse cameras into space where the intruders are sure to be alien, and by adding in a little government conspiracy theory for good measure. Why then does this film fall short?
It’s been done, people! And frankly, never well.
The hand-held camera POV has been proven annoying in the past (The Blair Witch Project,Cloverfield). Apollo 18 instead attempts many, many, stationary and hand-held cameras which is 1) still annoying and 2) not believable for a small spacecraft with two people cramped into it, in the seventies.
And fifteen minutes of research will show you that Apollo 18 is about as ‘based on true events’ as Pinocchio. Apollo 18, 19 and 20 missions were all cancelled, despite what one outed hoaxer William Rutledge claims about an Apollo 20 mission that uncovered alien beings. Even with this knowledge though, if you are able to suspend disbelief for 86 minutes in order to enjoy this one simply as a sci-fi thriller, then you may still be disappointed because it’s just not scary.
Sure there are moments of shock and suspense – mostly suspense – as unlucky cosmonauts Ben and Nate stumble around the lunar surface knowing they’re not alone. When the aliens do show themselves though, it’s for moments at a time and frankly, we expect more, bigger, better than a few rocks and scampering spiders, not to mention an explanation of what made the human-like footprints? Maybe that will be explained in Apollo 19 or Apollo 20.