Friday, December 30, 2011

Apollo 18

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Apollo 18 - 2 out of 5

Okay, despite the fact I enjoyed The Blair Witch Project, I have to now hate it because it has given rise to the "found footage" film genre.  You know, those shitty films like Paranormal Activity where more emphasis is placed upon the gimmick of trying to fool the audience it is real by giving it the first-person perspective and doing away with things like logic, creativity, story, plot and decent actors.  These movies all follow the same formula:  People have shit happen to them and, despite all sense and logic, they film ever single moment, even when they are being killed.  Because that's exactly what real people do--they don't drop the camera, crap their pants and run (not possibly in that exact order).  In regular films, we are able to have a suspension of disbelief because we go in knowing that what we are seeing is a work of fiction.  We have this same knowledge (or at least we should) going into these terrible works but when your film is sold on the fact is suppose to be "real," glaring unrealistic actions taken by the actors like keeping yourself in shot while being possessed by an alien (which happens in this film) can become a gigantic distraction despite the fact it is an amazing feat of dedication.  I know I wouldn't bother with keeping myself in shot while I was being killed by evil aliens.


"Must stay in shot while dying!"

Apollo 18 is the supposed answer to why we never went back to the moon--because, let's face it, a found footage film about a bunch of NASA suits saying it's too damn expensive to go to the lunar surface wouldn't draw the crowds.  So, according to this film, after the Apollo 17 mission, NASA secretly sent another mission to space (how you secretly launch a rocket into orbit is beyond me).  Well, the doomed mission hit the lunar surface and discovered that Russia was also able to secret launch a rocket (and it seems our Ruskie friends must have shared the secret with the good ole U.S. of A in 1974) but it seems something went wrong for our vodka filled friends.  The astronauts soon learn that something is living on the moon...and, like all movie aliens, they're not friendly.

Get used to this shot...you'll see it a lot.


If you watch this expecting to be scared like you were in Paranormal Activity, you'll be awfully disappointed and I can't help but wonder why you found Paranormal Activity scary.  This movie is just like that terrible film about the two unlikeable characters being terrorized by a demon.  It's slow moving, yawn-inducing and spends more time making you wait for the scares that, by the time they come, you couldn't care less about what is attempting to make you afraid.  Once the film gets moving (but it never truly gets going), you know exactly where it's heading and nothing the filmmakers throw at you is surprising.  In fact, it seems like it's a "Paint By Numbers" version of both an alien horror film and found footage piece of crap.  However, the film will start to blur the edges of the two as it occasionally forgets it's suppose to be a found footage film and camera angles will appear in the middle of a scene from a mysterious, third gunman camera that will teleport in and out of the film.  But this mysterious camera makes for great editing as scenes start to look like the latest video from the newest Industrial Metal band.  This mysterious camera shows up so often, that the movie should have forgotten about the rock aliens (oh yeah, did I mention the aliens are made of moon rocks?  Yeah, that's the quality this film is vomiting into your lap) and focused on this camera because--forget the film takes place in 1974--but the idea of a camera just showing up and disappearing is more interesting than a bunch of stone moon bugs.

"Hey, those rocks have legs...WUT?!?"

Now, like all found footage films, you are required to shut your brain off when watching this because, if you don't, you'll go insane from the plot holes.  For example, the movie is suppose to take place in 1974 but I had no idea that high definition cameras existed then.  Oh, the movie tries to hid the amazing amount of clarity it has by adding in scratch marks and film skips but the reality is, you can make out everything on screen.  Why weren't these cameras used when Neil was wishing good luck to Mr. Gorsky?  Was the government just waiting to use them on the mission where the creatures attack?


I wish we got this type of clarity when Neil was taking that "one giant leap."

But the biggest plothole, like all found footage films, comes in the fact that the movie doesn't explain how the footage was found.  In The Blair Witch Project and in Paranormal Activity, it is claimed that the police found the footage--they still don't explain why the police decided to edit in the pointless scenes like the two numbnuts in Paranormal Activity getting ready to have sex but at least we get how the footage was collected.  And my hats off to the police officers who got the Blair Witch reels and survived.  At least in Cloverfield the military got to wait until they killed the beast before they pulled Hud's tape out of his camcorder.


Seriously, what the fuck?!?  Cameras weren't this good in 1974.

The problem with the footage for Apollo 18 is the fact that it's all on the moon.  If the Apollo 18 mission was the reason we never went back to the moon, how did we get the footage?  There's no way it was transmitted back to Earth because all the footage we see is from cameras that contain film and are attached to either the astronauts or non-transmitting devices, like a stick that is squarely planted into the moon's soil.  At one point, one of the astronauts, trying to escape death, makes sure he collects the reels of film (because that's totally what a person in mortal toil would do).  Now, the movie claims that the footage was stolen by a group of people who run a website out to uncover the truth of the Apollo 18 mission (or as normal people know those types:  Crazy Conspirator Nutjobs).  So, am I suppose to assume that these people who run the website built a rocket and launched it without anyone knowing it (hey, they did it in 1974), got to the moon in their homemade lunar lander made from a garbage can and collected the footage, brought it back to Earth and edited it back together?  This movie actually makes the people who think the moon landing was fake look creditable and collected in their sanity.

The actor holds his hands up in an attempt to surrender...
surrender all you want, it doesn't change the fact you did this movie.
As horrible and as boring as Apollo 18 is, the reality is it could have been great.  If the film did away with its found footage gimmick and made a plain old fashion, mom and pop store, missionary position horror film from its story, it could have been awesome.  No lame lack of suspense as I stare at a black screen and only hear a man breathing but instead, well crafted, tensioned filled sequences that build the terror through atmosphere and music.  But no, the filmmakers wanted to get that easy Paranormal Activity cash and forget about making something of quality.  In fact, and I'm just guessing here, that this movie was so bad, it is the real reason Obama shut NASA down because this movie made space travel an embarrassment.

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