“December 7, 1972: Apollo 17, the final official lunar mission, lands on the moon. In 2011 eighty-four hours of classified footage is uploaded to www.lunartruth.com. This film was edited from that footage.”
Yes, you get the picture. Apollo 18 is another “found footage” film that has populated the movie landscape since the time of The Blair Witch Project. Unlike that famed film, this movie did not go on to make any kind of box office history. In spite of a rather large advertisement campaign, the film pulled in a very modest $17 million. I’d say we’ve become somewhat jaded by these kinds of films, and we’ve begun to demand something more in order to put up with the intentional amateur shooting style and enough shakes to reward our attention with something akin to a hangover. There will continue to be a flood of these kinds of films, and some of them might even be quite good. I can’t count Apollo 18 among them.
The plot is pretty simple. While funding for the Apollo program was cut after Apollo 17, we’re led to believe that a mission of a military nature was commenced in secret. Never mind that it’s pretty hard to hide something like an Apollo launch; the three astronauts make it safely to the moon without anyone on Earth becoming wise to the mission. Apparently, they never made it back. No, they weren’t hunted down by the feds, ala Capricorn One, to keep them from talking. The ship never made it back. The “found footage” indicates that they found something in the lunar rocks that wasn’t very nice. The film doesn’t attempt to explain how the footage was discovered. It makes the point that someone got their fingers on the 84 hours and uploaded it to a web site. I’m told the studio used the domain as part of the film’s original campaign, but I could not get to the site now. It appears no one thinks highly enough of the film to keep the web site running for the home video market. Perhaps they thought no one would care. Perhaps they were right.
The film portrays a ton of routine fake astronaut stuff. The problem is that it doesn’t really pass the sniff test. Someone tried too hard to copy the old NASA footage style, but it never really looks that authentic to me. But that’s not the film’s real weakness. The film simply drags with almost no real revelations coming for what seems like hours. It was literally hard to stay awake during this one, and I’m not entirely sure I did. The film claims to be edited down from 84 hours. Then why do I feel like I watched an 84-hour film?
Apollo 18 is presented in various aspect ratios, I guess indicating that different cameras caught the footage. The 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC MPEG-4 codec at an average 25-30 mbps. It’s hard to really judge a high-definition image presentation when the material has been intentionally made to look bad. All I can say is that the presentation here doesn’t take away from the image at all.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is actually a weakness because it is far too good. You can hear the dialog perfectly, which doesn’t mesh with the small capsule recorders we’re supposed to be watching through. Here there was no effort to capture the found footage style. It’s all very crisp and clear. Now I’m left with the question: Is it bad to be good?
Deleted And Alternate Scenes: Thank God we don’t get the other 82 1/2 hours here.
Some things should remain lost. The only thing this film is good for is to feed the conspiracy nuts who believe that all of the moon landings were faked. I can see some of them now banding together crying, “I knew it” at the tops of their little lungs. There just isn’t anything else here to about the film except, “No one’s ever going to see it.”