Thursday, January 26, 2012

Apollo 18 to the Moon and ....

Apollo 18:
S ometimes a film comes around where you are not sure if it is a joke or an earnest attempt to make a film that is both entertaining and yet artistically appealing.  Most people would look at Gonzalo López-Gallego's "Apollo 18" and say what a stupid movie.  How could you get found footage back from the moon if we haven't gone back since?  Yes, annoying questions nag at you in the back of your mind while watching this film.  I don't like "found footage" movies, cause they give the director and the writer a way out of delivering a complete story and an excuse for shoddy camera work, bad editing and bad dialog.  In the case of "Apollo 18" all these flaws are quite evident, however, there is a bit more about "Apollo 18" than the crap I just mentioned. 

To find out what I am talking about, watch the film with the commentary.  Director Gonzalo López-Gallego and Patrick Lussier ("Drive Angry, Cursed," and "Red Eye") walk us through the whole process of trying to get this film made.  Bob Weinstein calls upon Spanish born López-Gallego to work on a very low budget film about a conspiracy that takes place on the moon and do it less than three months.  If I were López-Gallego, I probably would have taken a hike.  However, López-Gallego takes on the challenge with the heart of an artist and a professional and makes the best of a crappy situation.  The plot has merit, along with many holes.  Three NASA astronauts are commissioned to go back to the moon after the Apollo project was officially cancelled and set up sensors on the moon.  During the height of the Space Race and the Cold War, the conspiracy theory becomes plausible.  Even finding two dead Russian Cosmonauts even seems believable.  With the release of information in March 2011 of audio of Soviet Cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov, crashing to the Earth in 1967 - the possibility of the Soviets making it to the Moon and failing to return would have been something they probably would have wanted to keep secret.  In the audio commentary, the director makes no bones about having to create the impression of found footage.  He goes into great detail on how they worked to get the look of film that has been sitting around for 30 years.  He even talks with Lussier about how hokey the original Moonster (as they call the Moon monsters) looked and why he went with the more subtle version. 

Working on limited funds, limited time, and limited resources, he takes Brian Miller's incomplete script and works with it and puts together a film that with all its faults has actually made money.  With a production budget only $5 million, Apollo 18 made $25,562,924 worldwide in 12 weeks in theaters.  I also want to note that for its first weeks in DVD release, I could not find the film in any of the Red Box kiosks in my area, as they were out of stock.  The honest truth is that if you want to see a movie about the Moon, take a look at Duncan Jones' debut film Moon, starring Sam Rockwell, and Kevin Spacey.  If you are a film student and want a look at what making a film in cramped claustrophobic conditions, with no time and no money then check out this film WITH the commentary ON.


Movie Data

Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Year:  2011
Staring: Warren Christie, Lloyd Owen, Ryan Robbins
Director: Gonzalo López-Gallego
Producer(s): Timur Bekmambetov, Michele Wolkoff
Writer: Brian Miller
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: 9/2/2011
Running Time: 86 minutes