Yesterday, Apollo 18, with it’s tag line of ‘there’s a reason we’ve never gone back to the Moon’ hit theaters after months of production delays. Given the extra time to build up anticipation, the film, which dealt with a secret trip to the Moon that ended in disaster, obviously had a lot to live up to, especially considering the intriguing tidbits released by its makers. So, a day after release, what are the critics saying?
Answer: not a whole lot of good things.
In several reviews of the movie, critics slam Apollo 18 for various reasons. Writing for the LA Times, Mark Olsen comments that the film “takes a startlingly long time to rev up” and that, even at just over an hour and a half, seems to be “playing for time.” Dan Koelsch of Movie Viral writes that the film “has a lot of buildup with lackluster payoff” and “makes a mess of a good idea.” Summarizing the disappointment felt by many of the critics, David Edelstein of New York Magazine simply declares that Apollo 18 “gets lost in space.”
Then there is the NASA take.
Throughout its history, NASA has been the focus on conspiracy theorists. In the past, there was the whole ‘NASA faked the Moon landings’ idea, which continues into the present with a renewed vigor that was started a decade ago by a Fox TV special. The 1970s saw the infamous ‘Face on Mars’ photo that spawned a whole series of pseudo-scientific literature about NASA coverups about life on the Red Planet. Come 2011, the latest hype is Comet Elenin, which is the subject of all kinds of wild, unfounded doomsday theories. In fact, Comet Elenin, which is really a comet, is actually in the process of disintegrating.
Now, throw in a movie that claims to be based off of top secret footage.
Speaking on Apollo 18, a NASA spokesman Bert Ulrich said that “Apollo 18 is not a documentary” and that it is “a work of fiction.” When addressing the idea that the film is made up of top secret footage that was only recently leaked to the media, Ulrich compared this scenario to that behind the Blair Witch Project, which hit theaters back in 1999, whose ‘this is actually real’ marketing tactic helped make that film the year’s biggest surprise hit and quite the cult classic a dozen years later.
As for Apollo 18, only time will tell what the historical opinions of this film will turn out to be, but one thing is certain: the film is fictional and should be regarded as such.