Friday, 16 September 2011

It's Only A Paper Moon [Review: Apollo 18]

Has the found footage genre had its day? Apollo 18 might be a good point to stand the genre down. True, at time of writing it has a meta-review score of 28% over at Rotten Tomatoes. True, it tells an unoriginal and highly predictable story within a lazy, generic Military-Government Conspiracy (TM) frame. True, it was launched at a press conference where dumb claims were made about the providence of the footage. Yawn.

In its favour, this is one of the few found footage films where the basic premise makes sense. Most FF films require the presence of an obsessive filmmaker or videographer: look, if some fifty-storey tentacled sea-beast and it's crab-like spawn are pursuing you through New York as the skyscrapers collapse around you, and you are actually sane, would you a) drop everything and run, or b) keep hold of fifty kilos of professional film equipment? What better way to show your girlfriend how much you love her than to stand there and video her while she is being attacked by demons

It is logical that an Apollo moonship would carry lots of cameras, and that the astronauts would film everything. The film has purportedly been edited together from a collection of sources by a mysterious conspiracy website: so thankfully there's no attempt to tell the story in real time. Different film sources have different colours and looks, plus some are hand-held while others are fixed, remote controlled or motion-sensitive: so there's much more shot variety, and slightly less nausea-inducing shakycam (even so, you may still wish to take your preferred travel sickness pill before viewing.) It helps. Performances are good although not Oscar-worthy, sets and visuals are authentic. While Apollo 18 might not be the best advertisement for the future of the space programme (that would be Space Camp, obviously) the film really does bring back the magic and high drama of the Apollo missions: for me this was more of a draw than the horror element.

Directed by Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch.) I enjoyed this film but I concede it could have been better.


Keith said...

I was considering seeing this movie. I've never watched any found footage films before. Is this a genre that takes a while to get into? The main selling point for me was that it was in space and revolving around a mission to the moon.

Sci-Fi Gene said...

I think FF is an interesting approach to filmmaking if one that might have run its course. I really enjoyed Cloverfield and Paranormal Activity: suggest you try one of these to see if the concept appeals. And yes, Apollo 18 may be worth a look if like me you are a die-hard NASA enthusiast.

On the other hand it's not for everyone, I know at least one person who cannot watch them at all due to shaky-cam induced nausea.