In the early 70's, Commander Nathan Walker, Captain Ben Anderson and Lieutenant Colonel John Grey are assigned in a secret mission to the Moon to protect the USA from USSR using detectors. Nathan and Ben land on the Moon in the Liberty module while John stays in orbit in the module Freedom. They collect rock samples and bring them to the Liberty. They also find footprints and the body of a Soviet cosmonaut on the moon. Soon they hear weird noises and they find that they are not alone in the satellite. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In some way, there was a real Apollo 18 during the year 1975. Named ASTP (Apollo-Soyuz Test Project), the mission was the first docking of spacecrafts built by different nations. The American crew included one of the seven Mercury program astronauts, Deke Slayton (the one who had never flown) and the Russian one Alexey Leonov, who was the first man to "walk in space." See more »
The mission patch shown at the beginning of the film is different to the patch the astronauts are wearing. The patch at the beginning of the film lists the mission commander first, command module pilot, and the lunar module pilot. This is correct. On the patch that the astronauts wear, the command module pilot and lunar module pilot's names are switched. See more »
Framed as leaked "found footage" from the era of space exploration in the 1970s, Apollo 18 is an attempt to out conspiracy the already rife conspiracy theories concerning the lunar landings. The trouble with framing something as being documentary style footage is you have to get the science right and be free from any loopholes that might break the audience out of the illusion. Apollo 18 falls short on this count. López-Gallego manages to recreate to a certain extent the lunar missions. Portrayed through the various cameras feeding live footage back to Earth we have a Big Brother style look into the doomed from the start space mission. The two man crew of the lunar lander also film themselves on 16mm cameras. Herein lies some of the flaws in the director's logic. We need to get into the character's perspective to relate. This is solely done through these 16mm cameras. They film themselves on the moon's surface as well as personal records in the module. The rest is all caught on remote cameras, the audience being allowed to see the threat before the crew do, privy to the danger the Department of Defence has exposed them to. The live footage makes sense to have been documented; however the 16mm film rolls do not make it out, they share the crews dire fate. How then are we seeing the actions of the crew amidst this found footage? It makes no sense pulling any reasonably astute watcher beyond the line of suspension of disbelief.
It seems clear López-Gallego wants us to care about the cast. We need to care for the conspiracy theory to resonate. The story very directly harks into the era of Watergate where the powers that be cannot be trusted. But his illusion of found footage does not stand up at all well. Does the story really fail on this account? No. It's actually fairly entertaining as it goes. The tension builds; the threat is revealed and played out. However the conspiracy theme and the documentary framing lend the film no real benefit and do not pay off. While there is reams of data on the films website to build the conspiracy it is not present enough on screen to sideline the notion we are victim to a none to subtle slight of hand.
What the film did do with the early footage was remind me why, as a child, I was so fascinated with space. It shows with sufficient realism what the actual Apollo astronauts did and how we as a planet reached for the stars. This is not history as it tries to suggest, but it is a reminder, to me at least, of how sad it is that we no longer pursue such epic destinations as the moon or beyond.
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