Apollo 18 Blu-ray Review

Apollo 18 Blu-ray ReviewThere’s a sad consistency in the world of film, especially in regards to the Horror genre, that when that when something succeeds, it should quickly be run into the ground. It happened with the slashers, then the torture/gore scene, and the latest trend that is the “found footage” trope.

Some films have done this well (Cannibal Holocaust, Blair Witch, REC) but the more of these that come out, the more tired and trite it becomes. Which brings us to Apollo 18; the latest entry into the found footage genre that actually succeeds at just about everything except telling a convincing story.

As history explains, Apollo 17 was the last US mission to the moon and immediately afterward, the moon exploration operation was shut down. What Apollo 18 presupposes is, maybe it wasn’t?

The film follows three astronauts, Commander Nathan Walker (Lloyd Owen), Captain Benjamin Anderson (Warren Christie) and Lt. Colonel John Grey (Ryan Robbins) who were all a part of the upcoming Apollo 18 mission before the whole thing was shut down, much to their dismay. It’s not long, though, before they find out that the government wants to carry on Apollo 18 as a secret mission. It’s not long before the trio blast off for what, unbeknownst to them, shall be their last mission.

Apollo 18 Blu-ray Review

Apollo 18 does lots of things right. All of the actors turn in some pretty decent work and manage to make the goings-on a bit more believable. All of the touches and effects to make the film look like true found footage are quite exceptional and lend to the atmosphere, especially when on the moon. For the first two-thirds of the film, it even nails having some true scary, thrilling moments, including discovering an abandoned Russian ship as well as realizing the government’s true intent for sending them back to the moon in the first place.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the big reveal, it couldn’t possibly be more lackluster. For such a good build up, there is an immediate dismantling of mood and execution. The actors begin being a bit all over the place and, as the movie shows more of the “Aliens,” the further and further it falls into worn out territory. There aren’t words to express just how quickly this film goes from being rather enjoyable to absolutely dreadful.

High-Def Presentation

Despite its shortcomings as a film, Apollo 18 has quite the solid HD presentation. The disc features a 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encode that showcases beautifully the intent the film makers had with this film. Since it is not only intended to be comprised of “found” footage, but also has supposedly been locked away for years, the look of the film is far from pristine, which is intended. Hiss, pops, cracks and dirt in the picture help add to the overall atmosphere of the film and it was obvious that some actual care went into this, as it doesn’t feel just needlessly tacked on or rushed.

The astronauts also use different types of cameras, and I was quite pleased to see the picture ratio change according to which camera’s footage we’re seeing. Even with the false harshness of the picture being on display, it still manages to be quite a beautiful picture with very high detail and is a true highlight of this release. Colors are drab and muted and feel of the time and blacks are incredibly dark and add to the overall suspense of the film.

The audio is equally impressive. From the booming of the rocket launch to the subtle, almost dead air sound of space, this 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio lossless soundtrack is quite the compliment to the film and the picture. The center speakers take on much of the conversations between the astronauts and the dialogue is unbelievably clear. The rest of the speakers don’t get much of a work out, save for the bass which is constantly ready for the next scare, of which there are sadly not many.

Apollo 18 Blu-ray Review

Beyond The Film

Apollo 18 features a decent amount of special features. There’s an audio commentary with Director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego and Editor Patrick Lussier that covers much of the good aspects of the film, like the visuals and how they were able to get certain shots, especially in such cramped spacing. There’s also the standard Deleted/Alternate Scenes and Alternate Endings, none of which, sadly, can do much to save the film nor are they presented in HD.

Below is a complete listing of all included special features.

  • Audio Commentary with Director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego and Editor Patrick Lussier
  • Deleted/Alternate Scenes (SD, 20 min)
  • Alternate Endings (SD, 5 min)
  • Digital Download of the film
  • DVD copy included

Apollo 18 isn’t completely terrible. It’s actually quite competent and engaging for a good bit of the film. The grand reveal and ending, however, completely ruin everything the film had going for it.

This is Lopez-Gallego’s first English language film and, despite its shortcomings, I do look forward to what else he might bring to the table in the future. The disc itself features a surprisingly good PQ and AQ that, again, make me wish they belonged to a good film. The disc is rounded out with a few supplements that, if you are a fan of the film, you may enjoy but I honestly don’t see too many people delving deeper after seeing the final product.

– Matt Hardeman

Shop for Apollo 18 on Blu-ray for a discounted price at Amazon.com (December 27, 2011 release date).

Apollo 18 Blu-ray Review

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