A Distinct Lack of Meteor Residue

Apollo 18: written by Brian Miller; directed by Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego; starring Warren Christie (Ben Anderson), Lloyd Owen (Nate Walker) and Ryan Robbins (John Grey) (2011): Had the producers not done this film as ‘found footage,’ they’d have basically remade the Bruce Campbell/Walter Koenig classic Moon Trap. Well, sort of.

A secret Apollo mission blasts off into outer space at Christmas 1972 to ostensibly set up special cameras and monitoring devices at the Moon’s South Pole. This is quite remarkable as the Saturn V rocket didn’t carry enough fuel to get the standard three-man, two-vehicle Apollo mission to the Moon’s South Pole, but so it goes.

The astronauts aren’t told why they’re really there, even though there’s no reason not to brief them once they’ve discovered that things at the South Pole are a little wacky. Or perhaps even before, given that the Department of Defense — which has ordered the secret mission — seems to know an awful lot about what the astronauts are going to find soon after they land.

If ever a lunar mission needed that machine-gun-equipped rover from Armageddon (and some of the nuclear warheads from the same film), this would be that mission.

Found-footage shenanigans ensue, some of them pretty unlikely. Thankfully, the jamming of the astronauts’ transmissions once they land on the Moon doesn’t affect their crystal-clear video feed all the way back to Mission Control. Whatever. There’s no time-lag in conversations between the astronauts and Mission Control, so maybe the whole thing was filmed on a sound stage in Burbank.

If your TV screen is big enough, you may get motion sickness from some of the camera work. And you’ll never look at an innocent rock the same again. At 45 minutes or so, this might have made a good Outer Limits episode, but at 85 minutes it’s interminable. Not recommended.

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