Houston, this is Apollo 18. We Have a Malfunction – Movie Review

Apollo 18

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by Stefan Abrutat

If I had suspended my disbelief any further it could’ve become permanently disabled (I’m not sure how this condition of zero disbelief would manifest itself, of course (for some reason Sarah Palin springs to mind)), that’s how hard I tried to like this somewhat compelling premise.

This is a “found footage” movie in the style of Blair Witch or Cloverfield, where a covert Apollo moon mission follows the last overt one, Apollo 17, two years later. The idea is to plant listening devices on the moon to spy on the USSR, hence the secrecy; as secret as a massive rocket blasting off the planet can be, anyway. This is the first of many problems with the story. For example, if we’ve never been back to the moon, how was the footage retrieved?

When the astronauts get to the moon, they find evidence of a previous soviet mission and extra-terrestrial life, which is, of course, aggressively anti-human.

Plot holes gape wider than the dark craters the astronauts counter-intuitively wander into. It’s difficult to muster even the most perfunctory of eye-rolls at such stupidity. Best of the best, huh? You don’t care about them and you don’t care they’re in danger. Even the dislikeable characters in Cloverfield, a movie I could take or leave, inspired more reaction that this trio of ill-conceived cutouts.

I simply don’t understand how filmmakers can drop the ball so heavily on character development in movies like this. Isn’t it surely the most important thing, to build that empathy within the audience so they can more readily feel the dread and fear? Especially when the vast majority of the action is contained in a tiny lunar capsule: we need to know who these people are, where they’re from, their desires and motivations etc. The dialogue, especially, needs some style and verve to keep things interesting. Unfortunately, this is far from the case.

Alas this promising premise has been handled so clumsily I was willing along the painfully slow hands of my watch way before the 86 minutes were up.

Come back Cloverfield, all is forgiven.

Directed by Gonzalo López-Gallego and written by Brian Miller and Cory Goodman, Apollo 18 stars Warren Christie, Lloyd Owen and Ryan Robbins.

PG13. Running time: 1 hr 26 minutes. Opened on September 2nd.

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