Join 3,554 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


What's in Apollo 18's name?
September 3, 2011 11:46 AM   Subscribe

The movie Apollo 18 opened recently. The plot centers around a supposedly secret Apollo moon landing mission (the last actual mission was Apollo 17). But never mind the space stuff, what is up with the title of the mission? It's been used for a couple of non-space related music projects. They Might Be Giants used it for the title of their fourth album. Then there's a Korean indie rock band with the name, who won the Rookie of the Year award at the 2010 Korean Music Awards.

Of course, the title of the mission was used for space related projects also. The game company Accolade made a video game with the title for the Commodore 64.

As to the movie itself, the reviews have good, though critics have noted plot implausbilities, such as secretly launching a Saturn V rocket (you gotta see this). Still, Apollo Flight Director Gerry Griffin, who worked as an advisor on the movie, thinks the film's creators got most things right.

But what about those last three unflown Apollo missions? Oddly enough, the Apollo 18 movie was released exactly 41 years after the NASA mission was officially canceled. It was to land in Schroter's Valley and be commanded by Gemini and Apollo veteran Richard Gordon, with Vance Brand serving as Command Module Pilot and Harrison Schmitt as Lunar Module Pilot. The mission was to mark the first time a geologist, Schmitt, was to walk on another world. When the mission was canceled, Schmidt was moved to Apollo 17, bumping Joe Engle from that mission and putting him on the short list of people who were supposed to land on the moon but didn't. It is debatable whether Alice Kramden should be on that list.

Apollo 17 wasn't the last Apollo mission though. Apollo-Soyuz was the 1975 joint project with the Soviet Union and is unoffically called Apollo 18 at times. It featured a docking between the Apollo command module and Soyuz craft and is viewed as the end of the space race as well the beginnings of the International Space Station.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (39 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I thought the movie was getting terrible reviews? It's got something like a 20 at Metacritic.
posted by kmz at 11:50 AM on September 3, 2011


the trailer looks like a school project.
posted by empath at 11:53 AM on September 3, 2011


The Soviet lunar lander is pretty damn cool.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:56 AM on September 3, 2011


Pfft, my pitch was better
posted by The Whelk at 11:56 AM on September 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


I have always loved that TMBG Apollo 18 promo video.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 11:56 AM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


It is debatable whether Alice Kramden should be on that list.

I totally appreciated that, dude.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:56 AM on September 3, 2011


I'm going to see this this weekend, mostly because I'm curious about the massive disconnect between criticis and audiences on Rotten Tomatoes, where only about 30 percent of the criticis like it, while something like 70 percent of the audience likes it..

I have a theory that movie criticis, by and large, and terrible at writing about genre films, and consistently rate them lower than mainstream films, and apply a straight "was it good/wasn't it" metric where with more "sophisticated" genres of filmmaking they're likelier to approach themes or social significance of film. I think a lot of critics just don't what to say about genre films, generally think they're only worth consideration if they somehow rise to the level of art, and often straight-up miss the pleasures of genre for other audience members.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:01 PM on September 3, 2011


They refused to hold any advance press screenings here in the UK in order to prevent professional critics reviewing it before the day of release. In my experience, that's almost always a sign that the movie involved is very, very poor.
posted by Paul Slade at 12:10 PM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have a theory that movie criticis, by and large, and terrible at writing about genre films, and consistently rate them lower than mainstream films, and apply a straight "was it good/wasn't it" metric where with more "sophisticated" genres of filmmaking they're likelier to approach themes or social significance of film.

Yeah, they don't get it. They also forget that most film goers go to movies to be entertained. Reality and facts have little to do with entertainment.

The Soviet lunar lander is pretty damn cool.

Alexi Leonov probably would have been its pilot and first man on the moon, if the Soviet Chief Designer, Sergi Korolev, had lived.


In my experience, that's almost always a sign that the movie involved is very, very poor.

I've been using IMDB's ratings on whether to see a movie, with about a 80-90% success rate. Frankly, very few film critics seem capable of actually sitting back and enjoying a film, they always have to find flaws.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:16 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I saw Apollo 18 last night. It's a fun sci-fi horror film with some good scares. For a low budget film, they really got the look of the moon right. The found footage approach is frustrating a few times but the tension is pretty intense. I jumped a few times. The plot is pretty formulaic but it's still better than that other sci-fi summer flick that featured aliens on the moon (Transformers 3).
posted by clockworkjoe at 12:21 PM on September 3, 2011


better than that other sci-fi summer flick that featured aliens on the moon (Transformers 3).

Talk about faint praise...
posted by kmz at 12:23 PM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I thought the movie was getting terrible reviews? It's got something like a 20 at Metacritic.

In fact, right now it has, fittingly, an 18.
posted by dfan at 12:30 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was just reading a long list of horrible reviews of this today. Too bad, I wanted to see it...once.
posted by Liquidwolf at 12:47 PM on September 3, 2011


100 bonus points for the Alice Kramden reference, well played blatcher.
posted by tomswift at 12:48 PM on September 3, 2011


Could we get some (well marked) spoilers in here for those of us interested but unlikely to see it soon?

It is some kind of ghosts / zombies thing at the end?
posted by Meatbomb at 1:00 PM on September 3, 2011


Will conspiracy flick Apollo 18 break the internet?
posted by homunculus at 1:05 PM on September 3, 2011


Will conspiracy flick Apollo 18 break the internet?

Jesus Christ, don't start the whole "moon landings were hoax" thing up again. Any idiot can tell they were filmed on soundstage on Mars.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:13 PM on September 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Good reviews? The AV Club gave it an F so I dread to think what they'd have given it if the reviews had been bad. If you like faux-documentary space films I recommended tracking down the little Russian film Первые на Луне (First on the Moon) - about a Russian space programme in the 1930s.
posted by joannemullen at 2:10 PM on September 3, 2011


The plot is pretty formulaic but it's still better than that other sci-fi summer flick that featured aliens on the moon (Transformers 3).

A couple of kids running around with a photo of the moon yelling "Aaaaaaa! The moon will eat you!" Has a more coherent plot that Transformers 3, so that is a very very low bar.

I think thematically, we should cap this thread at 18 comments.

Oh...
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:19 PM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


The indie band is a good listen. I am grateful to the Korean government for their sponsorship of post-rock albums, odd though that sounds.
posted by Winnemac at 2:30 PM on September 3, 2011


I can't wait to torrent a good telesync of this pile of crap!
posted by Horselover Phattie at 2:57 PM on September 3, 2011


So, dearest and I went to see the film. It was not a bad film. It was not a good film. In fact we were puzzled to find that in hindsight there didn't really seem to have been a movie there. When the credits rolled I was expecting at least another 20 minutes of "footage" to somehow pull things together, but there was no such thing. Most of the screentime was wasted. All of the elements of a good movie are there, but they're either blindly misapplied or drowned by silence, motionless footage, breathing, nothing happening, DRAMATIC HAPPENING, reaction, nothing nothing nothing. There's a fair amount of pre-mission "home footage" mixed in to make us sympathize with the astronauts, but it does so in such an obvious way that it fails rather completely. When I think about all the concepts that went into the movie, it all sounds really cool and as though it would produce a really great film. When I think about how they were actually presented, I take a nap.

I think if this film were not in the found footage genre, it could have been quite good. As it was, too much was sacrificed since every single shot had to be justified by a camera either in the astronaut's hands or attached to a piece of equipment. This seemed to keep the movie from making the most of itself. There were one or two dramatic moments, one or two instances of mild suspense, and that was it. About what you'd expect of watching footage from a space mission.
posted by Phyltre at 3:56 PM on September 3, 2011


Korean band Apollo 18:
High Stepper
Discusting
Magnolia

(And they're all performances from a performance series on the Korean government-sponsored educational channel. You can find a lot of interesting Korean indie music performances by searching for EBS 스페이스 공감, which is the name of the series as well as the performance space)
posted by needled at 3:59 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was just about to post, before the power failed, that James Michenor's novel Space contains a detailed fictional account of an Apollo 18 mission that ends tragically.
posted by localroger at 4:36 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Summary: In the spaceship, the silver spaceship, the lion takes control. THE END
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:47 PM on September 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


> In the spaceship, the silver spaceship, the lion takes control.

Wimoweh?
posted by Horselover Phattie at 4:50 PM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Don't forget the Skylab program used a lot of leftover Apollo hardware.
posted by Mcable at 7:13 PM on September 3, 2011


Dear Phyltre: You say this is a movie in which most of the screentime is wasted, the key elements are blindly misapplied, the characters' background fails completely, the execution makes you take a nap, the chosen genre keeps the movie from making the most of itself and the whole thing offers only one or two moments of drama and/or mild suspense. So what is it that stops it being a bad film, exactly?
posted by Paul Slade at 12:37 PM on September 4, 2011


That's actually a question that we were discussing on the way home. Nothing about the movie taken in the moment was bad, it just didn't add up to anything. We both got the same impression and neither of us could remember the last movie that left us feeling that way. I admit to being as confused as you.
posted by Phyltre at 1:58 PM on September 4, 2011


Nothing about the movie taken in the moment was bad, it just didn't add up to anything.

I think you hit on the head. It wasn't bad, but wasn't good overall and was just sort of there. There was nothing for most people to connect to, i.e. landing on the moon. Most people don't care about that and can't connect to it. Where as The Blair Witch project succeed because a lot of people have been scared in the dark or out camping. I've read several books written by the astronauts who have been on the moon and they agree that the weirdest and most unsettling thing is that it's so quiet. No wind, no animals, nothing except the hum of the lunar module. That movie doesn't play up that angle, which is a shame, IMO. There's thousand things that have to be done to keep a person alive in space. There's no need to add in creepy space aliens to build suspense. Though it was awesome how you never really saw the things full on, just in brief moments.

I am pleased that they didn't try to say they launched a Saturn V and no one saw it though. They had a believable plot point for that.

There was a loud group of people behind us that exploded with anger when it ended. One of them felt, and yes this is a direct quote, "That was the gayest movie ever and a complete waste of money. You could have stuck a dildo up my ass and that would have been more enjoyable." There was some laughter over this and some murmurs about "what, i like it?!"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:32 PM on September 4, 2011


It's saying something that the only Wide screen release movies about the Apollo program are about the one that went wrong or faux documentary that never happened.


Can anyone get www.lunartruth.com to come up? It's a website mentioned in the movie, where the discovered footage was supposedly uploaded.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:07 PM on September 4, 2011


> Can anyone get www.lunartruth.com to come up?

It's not just you! I think those spider things got to the webmaster.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 4:24 PM on September 4, 2011


Clearly the government is hiding something.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:39 PM on September 4, 2011


All right. I saw this movie the other night without having seen the preview or reading anything about it. I thought it was first-class crap. It's the Blair ParaMoonAl Activity Project, but without anything original or exciting about it in the slightest. SO. TEDIOUS. It's like a Powerpoint slideshow with the occasional (mostly pointless) embedded movie. The "it's so realistic how it's so blurry and noisy" thing got old after about five minutes. Guys, I know you shot digital and SFXed the footage to be all noisy and frame-skippy. Couldn't you just say you used Double Secret Government Widescreen Hi Def Film Undiscovered Until Just Now? I would have suspended my disbelief, I swear.

I've read the reviews and they're correct - it's a random, boring spattering of dull vignettes with a vague, silly narrative. To paraphrase one critic, if it's all 'found' footage, why wouldn't they just skip ahead to the good stuff instead of shot after shot of "guy sleeping in hammock for 30 seconds"? Oh, look, it's...the moon. Again. Thanks for establishing we're on the moon, I guess. Then yet another "exterior of the lunar lander" shot with..nothing..happening...ugh. Somebody DO something already! Playing for time, no doubt, filling up the gaps with a lot of nothing to unsuccessfully generate suspense. I understand the idea of critics having nothing better to do than find flaws in stuff. But this movie is more flaws than movie.

My favorite (negative, of course) review tagline for this movie:
In Space, No One Can Hear You Yawn
posted by ostranenie at 4:45 PM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did they not have the budget to pay their web hosting bill?
posted by ostranenie at 4:46 PM on September 4, 2011


But, those stinkin' aliens took the US flag down! This was a manifesto!
posted by Horselover Phattie at 4:48 PM on September 4, 2011


Fun fact: The credits of this movie last a whopping eleven minutes, which features an incredibly slow crawl.

Surprisingly, the piano piece played at the start of the credits is actually more somber and haunting than the entire movie. It's such a shame because I thought the theme of being left behind on the moon and knowing that no one's coming for you was a completely chilling premise.
posted by HermanoBluth at 2:46 AM on September 5, 2011


LRO spots Apollo landing sites in high res
posted by homunculus at 2:09 PM on September 6, 2011


There are pounds of human waste on the moon. Someone should write a sequel to Apollo 18 that has the bacteria mutating after being exposed to solar radiation.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 2:16 PM on September 6, 2011


« Older in 1976, surrealist icon Salvador Dali starred and...  |  In September 1964, Jonny Quest... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments