Apollo 18 review / Susan Granger
Published 10:45 am, Friday, September 16, 2011
Think "The Blair Witch Project," "Paranormal Activity," The Troll Hunter" or "Cloverfield" - in outer space.
Supposedly, what's shown on the screen is culled from 84 hours of NASA footage found at an Internet site called www.lunartruth.com. It purportedly documents a final manned flight to the moon in 1974, two years after Apollo 17, and super-secretly funded by the Department of Defense. While NASA denies its authenticity, other say it's the real reason we've never gone back to the moon.
As the faux documentary begins, three eager astronauts are catapulted towards the moon on a Saturn V rocket launch. While John Grey (Ryan Robbins) pilots the command module, Nathan Walker (Lloyd Owens) and Ben Anderson (Warren Christie) descend to the lunar surface to place a payload of high-tech anti-missile detection devices, supposedly to monitor the USSR, but when they begin to gather what they think are `rock' samples, weird things start to happen: strange sounds, mysterious footprints and the disappearance of the American flag. While exploring a nearby crater, they're stunned to discover a Russian landing craft, meaning the Americans are not the only ones to stake a lunar claim. But what happened to the cosmonauts?
Screenwriter Brian Miller and Spanish director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego ("King of the Mountain"), making his English-language debut, don't bother with individual characterizations and narrative. Instead, they rely on schlocky sound effects and jarring cuts, techniques which turn silly far too soon. And, of course, there's the nagging question: who was filming this allegedly covert mission?
None of this seems to bother producer Timur Bekmambetov ("Wanted") and editor Patrick Lussier, who are clearly aiming at an unquestioning horror market audience who relish jittery camerawork and humdrum dialogue and, above all, won't recognize the TV actors. It spoils the illusion if you identify Lloyd Owen from "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles," Warren Christie from "Alphas" and Ryan Robbins from "Sanctuary."
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On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Apollo 18" is a tedious 2. Its stretched thin, 88-minute running time seems like more than two hours.