I’ve just learnt that a new film is in production called Apollo 18 (imdb). The last real Apollo mission was of course number 17 which took place in 1972 and saw the crew land in the Taurus-Littrow valley equipped with a Lunar Rover. NASA did have a real Apollo 18 mission planned and more after that but budget cuts and – would you believe – lack of public interest in manned moon landings put paid to the whole Apollo programme. Many people are saddened by the fact that we have never returned to the moon in nearly 40 years.
At first I thought the new film would be a feature documentary or dramatisation about the real mission and the cancellation of the programme, but it turns out to be a work of fiction with a conspiracy-theory style horror/sci-fi plot. The basic premise is that there actually was a secret Apollo 18 mission and when they got to the Moon they encountered aliens that attacked the crew. I am looking forward to the explanation for why after seven very public moon landing missions there was a need for one mission to be conducted in secret. My guess would be that this is explained because astronauts “saw something” on one of the previous missions that warranted further investigation.
What I do find interesting is that the premise of this film says more about our changing attitudes: in the late 1960’s and 70’s we took Apollo for what it was – mankind’s greatest endeavour. In that era it’s likely that a movie about classified Apollo missions and aliens would have seemed ridiculous, but in the new world of secretive Governments and populations who now know for a fact that they are not always being told the truth, a story like this becomes more plausible. The same is also true of the continuing persistence of the conspiracy theories about how the moon landings were staged – which I’ve always thought of as a huge insult to the achievement of the astronauts and the team of 400,000 people across the USA who worked on the programme.
I worship the Apollo space programme and although the premise of Apollo 18 sounds semi-interesting, I have grave concerns over whether this is going to really treat Apollo with the respect it deserves – it looks like it’s being used as the basis for a cheap horror movie that’s trying to ride on the back of real-life events. I’ll reserve final judgement on Apollo 18 until its release date (currently tracking as the 22nd April) but my gut feel is that this isn’t going to be very good at all.