Movie News & Reviews

'Apollo 18' a product of cats on meth?

Recently, a NASA spokesman went on record stating that Apollo 18, the new sci-fi horror flick about astronauts dying on the moon, is not, in fact, a documentary.

This was useful information to me. I was two clicks away from canceling my moon vacation when I saw that news. I don't know if you've tried this, but it's not easy to get a refund on a pair of real moon boots, either. Then again, the guy who sold me my space shuttle tickets had a very nice van, so he probably wouldn't risk his reputation over a thing as minor as a pair of boots, would he? That wouldn't make a lot of sense.

In any event, I don't blame NASA for making it absolutely clear that Apollo 18 should not be mistaken for real events. Not when they're constantly dogged by conspiracy theories about faked moon landings, collaborating with the aliens to build the Pyramids, and teaming up with Optimus Prime to totally dominate the WWE. Much like -- and, I would argue, equally heroic to -- the brave men at NASA, I would like to do my part to make it perfectly clear that Apollo 18 shouldn't be mistaken for something that's any good at all.

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Supposedly, every Apollo mission after 17 was canceled for budgetary reasons. But in 1974, an 18th mission was launched in secret with the goal of providing advanced warning on Soviet missiles.

Once the astronauts arrive, they discover the Russians have been to the moon themselves -- and there's something terribly wrong there.

You know else there is something terribly wrong with? Apollo 18. It is close to being physically unwatchable. Director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego (in his Hollywood debut) can't stop himself from cutting, distorting, desaturating, and mangling just about every single second of footage. I think Lopez-Gallego actually hates film stock and is now exacting his revenge by torturing it as thoroughly and enthusiastically as possible.

What did film do to him to send him on a lifelong journey of vengeance against an inanimate object? I dunno. Maybe it caught him having some "Lopez-Gallego time" as a teenager and showed it around the high school. Maybe it killed his parents in a dark alley. Whatever happened, Apollo 18 looks like edited by a team of cats with an ongoing meth problem.

This is probably an effort to keep things unclear. To let our imaginations fill in the gap Blair Witch-style. But any potential terror here is undermined by the scratchy, blurry, jangled look of it all. By the time the horror plot got going, all I was imagining was being able to see what the hell was going on. Same deal with the sound.

Not that it really mattered. The characters, after all, are flatter than a pancake in the act of photocopying its own butt. And if I might pause for a moment -- hey Hollywood, knock that off already. Do you know how many similes about flat characters I've had to come up with in the last four years? Is "bunches" a number? I just don't know how many more comparisons about halibut, surfboards, and sheets of paper I can make. That pancakes thing hardly makes any sense as it is.

So one guy has a family. I guess that's something. And they all wear shirts. They also all speak in terrible dialogue, which is a personality of some kind. Good game, guys.

On the positive side, I did enjoy the scenes when they descended into the craters. The parts I could see, anyway. And I liked the concept a lot? Should people get bonus points for a good idea, or double-negative points for ruining it? Ah, who cares. Apollo 18 is pretty dang crummy. Now let's move on with our lives.

Grade: D

* Contact Ed Robertson at His fiction is available on Kindle, Nook, and through Smashwords.