Film review: ‘Apollo 18’ fails to launch

Humans landed on the Earth’s moon because of the Apollo program run by NASA. The program intended to contain 20 missions, during the 1960s and 1970s, though missions 18, 19 and 20 were cancelled due to a number of reasons, including budget limitations.

"Apollo 18" contains interesting concepts but is poorly executed. Photo: Dimension Films

The premise behind the film, “Apollo 18”, is that the mission actually launched in December 1974 but never returned, therefore preventing further expeditions. The film is shot in a mockumentary style, with the film supposedly made up of lost footage from the Apollo 18 mission, having only recently been discovered.

“Apollo 18” sees Commander Nathan Walker (Lloyd Owen) and Captain Benjamin Anderson (Warren Christie) being sent into space to plant a detector and to take samples of moon rocks. On further exploration of the moon, the pair discovers a Russian lander nearby, which leads them into a dark crater, where they find a dead Russian astronaut.

Once their mission has been completed, the crew prepare to leave though launch is aborted after Liberty (their spacecraft) has been damaged. On inspection of the damage, non-human tracks reveal that there is evidence of extra-terrestrial life.

To comply with its mockumentary style, the film has been shot brilliantly. Only using a small amount of cameras in fixed positions creates a sense of realism and the camera effects used also add to this. The actors are also very convincing in their respective roles.

However, “Apollo 18” is let down by a number of key features. The sound work isn’t brilliant as viewers are constantly listening to the sound of the shuttle while the astronauts are in it, which is for a good proportion of the film. While it does create more of an atmosphere, it comes as more of an annoyance and a distraction.

Furthermore, the film takes a while to really get going. For the vast majority of the film, nothing really happens and there’s very little plot development. With the exception of a few jumpy moments and some fast-paced editing towards the end, the film really struggles to truly engage spectators.

“Apollo 18” has some great ideas though was executed in the wrong way. While the conspiracy theories behind the film are interesting, this isn’t for casual cinema viewers.

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