Thursday, March 15, 2012

APOLLO 18 (Blu-ray & DVD)

The "found footage" style of horror film appears to be here to stay, thanks to the inexplicable success of the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY flicks and their various direct-to-disc-and-cable-TV  imitators. That said, I will give the creators of APOLLO 18 (2011) some credit - their "found footage" freakout has some extra novelty value, as it sets its action on the lunar surface.

After the final official Apollo moonshot in 1972, the Department of Defense and NASA teamed up to launch one more mission to the moon a year or so later - a mission so secret that the public was never told about it. APOLLO 18 documents that spine-chilling space adventure, using "decades-old" film and video footage shot by the astronauts themselves, somehow acquired from the space program's classified archives. Those astronauts - Ben Anderson (Warren Christie, MALIBU SHARK ATTACK), Nate Walker (Lloyd Owen, THE YOUNG INDIANA JONES CHRONICLES), and John Grey (Ryan Robbins, CAPRICA) - land near the Lunar South Pole, where they uncover evidence of an ill-fated Soviet manned moon mission, and a deadly, unexpected extraterrestrial danger...

Directed by Gonzalo López-Gallego and written by Brian Miller, APOLLO 18 is reasonably engaging, with an intriguing premise and scattered moments of scary suspense. Although there are some minor anachronisms and instances of artistic license, the recreation of 70s NASA technology is pretty cool, and the performances are perfectly satisfactory. The only real problem - common in these kinds of flicks - is occasionally sluggish pacing and a somewhat anti-climactic conclusion. Still, there are a few genuinely creepy bits, and it does score some points on originality. In fact, I suspect that, with adjusted expectations, APOLLO 18 will actually play better on a second viewing than the first.

The Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Anchor Bay presents APOLLO 18 in 1.78:1 1080p/anamorphic widescreen. Picture quality is excellent, presenting the faux "vintage" footage with fine detail, and an accurate representation of the intended heavy grain structure and other visual "defects." Audio is 5.1 DTSHD-MA (Blu-ray) and 5.1 Dolby Digital (DVD). Bonus features are the same on both discs: an interesting audio commentary by director López-Gallego and editor Patrick Lussier, and a selection of alternate and deleted scenes and some alternate endings. A Digital Copy of the movie is also included.

I didn't dislike APOLLO 18. I don't think it's a particularly great film, but as a guy who grew up a bit of a NASA buff in the 70s, I enjoyed the premise and much of the atmosphere (if you'll excuse the term) of the film. I can't recommend it with any particular enthusiasm, but if the idea of APOLLO 18 intrigues you, it's worth checking out, at least as a rental.

BUY: Apollo 18 (Blu-ray/DVD + Digital Copy)