Lopez-Gallego’s clever, low budget sci-fi thriller exposes secret agendas, ulterior motives and brave heroes. NASA’s cancellation of the Apollo 18 moon mission sets up the premise.
Found footage of the Apollo space program and a faux-documentary style are used.
Top secret blast-off
What if the announcement was just a hoax? A top secret 1974 blast-off is shown. Commander Nathan Walker and Captain Benjamin Anderson plant early warning devices for the Department of Defense. They collect moon rocks.
Suddenly, the mission goes awry when they discover an abandoned wreck and evidence of alien activity.
A bare-bones plot and scant character development make this a modest mission. The special effects are on par with the 1970s, but creepy enough. Apollo 18 is suspenseful good fun.
In fact NASA did plan Apollo 18, Apollo 19 and Apollo 20 missions. Congressional budget cuts and lack of public interest in the lunar voyages caused each to be axed.
Nation united in lofty goal
Apollo 18 recalls a nation united to achieve a lofty aim. I got chills watching President John F. Kennedy announce the goal of reaching the moon. Lopez-Gallego succeeds in conjuring a sense of American idealism and entitlement.
The American heroes (played by Warren Christie, Lloyd Owen and Ryan Robbins) display death-defying character lacking in some government officials. Flashbacks show the trio drinking beer and goofing around at a family picnic. The archival footage is scratchy and realistic.
Unidentified Fearful Objects
Cold War paranoia prevails, along with a curious insistence that only man lives in the universe. The crew can’t imagine peaceful coexistence with extraterrestrials because they can’t even acknowledge their existence.
One day, we will watch Apollo 18 and laugh at our own arrogance. (3 out of 5 stars)
If you like Apollo 18, you might enjoy: Trollhunter; Splice.
Apollo 18 2011 / PG-13 / 1 hour, 28 min
Cast Overview: Warren Christie, Lloyd Owen, Ryan Robbins
Director: Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego
Genre: Thriller, Sci-Fi, Horror, Mockumentary