Apollo 18 is a mockumentary using the kind of faux-realism first made famous by The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield, albeit without the absurd camera shaking that made so many people nauseous. There’s a bit of handy-cam syndrome, but only enough to add a sense of authenticity, not enough to distract from the movie.
As an author that has been criticised for weak characterisation, I think that’s part of the problem with Apollo 18. We, the audience, never really got to identify with the astronauts before they were thrown into the fray.
On a technical level, the movie has also been criticised for things like the footprints being too close together and too evenly distributed. With the exception of the actual Moon footage, the motion of the astronauts is too much like a shuffle and lacks the free, flowing, bouncing motion of an actual moonwalk. Clearly, faking a moon landing in the 21st Century, with a multimillion dollar budget, is not easy. It makes you wonder how they faked four moon landings in the 60s, or, perhaps they didn’t, perhaps Armstrong and Aldrin actually walked on the Moon. (Of course they did. I’m being facetious)
Also, the alien/rock creatures have absurdly fast motion/metabolism for something living in the coldest place on the moon, a crater that never sees sunlight. And one wonders what these critters feed on when there’s not an astronaut to munch on.
Having said all that, however, I think Apollo 18 deserves far more than a two or a five out of ten. I’d rate it as seven out of ten stars. It is an ambitious movie, carried out with an admirable level of detail, particularly within the LEM. The slowly building crescendo of suspense worked well for me. Alien life on the Moon was always going to be a tough sell, but I think they succeeded far more than Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which, ironically, rated better on both IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes.
I found the discovery of a cracked Soviet cosmonaut helmet particularly poignant. It was a stunning, vivid reveal within the storyline. And, as for the original poster, with the three-toed wolf-life footprint, I was hanging out for the point we’d see what made those tracks, but it never came. Perhaps it was a case of the marketing department outpacing the writers.
I would have liked to have seen a different ending. The conclusion seemed rushed and was a bit of a let down. But, hey, I’ve been criticised for both of those points as well with Anomaly, so there’s some learning here for all. A slightly different ending and Apollo 18 could have escaped the horror genre, which really doesn’t suit the movie at all.
If you have low expectations, you’ll be very pleasantly surprised by this movie. It’s not Apollo 13, but it’s nice to see someone going back to the Moon 🙂