We’re approaching 40 years since the United States abandoned the Apollo space program. In the three-and-a-half year span since mankind first stepped onto it in 1969, humans visited the moon an impressive six times. Sadly in the roughly 40 years that have followed since the Challenger lunar lander last touched down on that big grey ball in the sky, no one, American or otherwise, has set foot on the surface of the moon. Our collective desire to conquer outer space has been dwindling in practice since 1972, culminating in the unfortunate retirement of the United States’ space shuttle program earlier this year.
But just because our government has stopped funding manned exploration of our immediate stellar neighbors, doesn’t mean Hollywood has given up on the idea.
Filmmakers still have our planet’s personal night light on the brain and there’s a notable rash of moon-related movies being made these days despite the real world falling out of love with space. Is it because the moon still calls to us as an object of mystery, a puzzle to be unlocked in the hopes it gives our species some answers to life’s ancient questions? Or is it because the moon is a perfect vehicle for fear, the ultimate in terrifying desolation?
Let’s take a look at our near future of moon-related movies to see if we can figure out the answer.
Apollo 18 - Dimension Film’s Apollo 18 is the most immediate moon movie on the horizon and yet, even with it coming out in a barely a week (September 2nd to be precise), no one really knows a whole lot about it. It’s produced by Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch, Wanted) and... well, he’s really the only instantly recognizable name that’s been attached to the project since the beginning (though according to a recent listing on IMDb, Drive Angry’s Patrick Lussier did edit it, and he’s got a good track record of editing unique genre projects) . What we do know is that it’s a found footage horror movie (think Blair Witch or Paranormal Activity) about a covert mission to the moon that, presumably, ended poorly for the astronauts involved. So even though no one has actually seen this thing yet, it’s a safe assumption that it doesn’t make going to the moon out to be the awe-inspiring scientific endeavor it once was. Chalk one up for the “Fear of the Moon” category.
Dark Moon - Even though it was actually announced before Apollo 18, Dark Moon has either had a harder time making it to the big screen or Dark Castle have committed to total radio silence and are producing it entirely in secret. It’s also about a covert eighteenth Apollo mission to the moon, and was also supposed to employ a found footage narrative, so its thunder will pretty much be stolen by the Apollo 18 no matter how good it actually ends up being. Plus, since this is from Olatunde Osunsanmi, director of the wacky Milla Jovovich alien found footage hybrid The Fourth Kind, it’s already got a ways to go prove itself. Whatever the status of its production, there’s little doubt Dark Moon also belongs in the “Fear of the Moon” column.
Iron Sky - There’s only one thing you need to know about Iron Sky: it’s about Nazis who have been secretly hiding on the dark side of the moon and who have been amassing an army in order to take over the planet. That easily makes it the coolest film on this list. And, even though it’s not about something pre-existing on the moon killing people, it’s still the third film on the horizon that makes the moon out to be a death trap.
In the Event of a Moon Disaster - Just announced this week is In The Event of a Moon Disaster, which has perhaps the strangest plot of any moon-related movie in our future. Yes, it’s even stranger than Nazi astronauts. It’s actually an alternate history story about what might have happened if the 1969 moon landing hadn’t gone as planned. Why’s that so strange? Because it did happen. It was one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of our species. What’s interesting about imagining that same crew of astronauts being struck by disaster and “up against insurmountable odds”? I’m all for imagining alt history, but it’s far more interesting on paper than it is in feature films. On the big screen, altering an event like this just to make it even more dramatic just seems so pointless. Hopefully I’m wrong about that, but it still stands as yet another movie about fearing the moon.
And now that we’ve taken a look at four future films about going to the moon, what conclusion can we draw?
It’s simple. Going to the moon is a terrible, terrible idea and trying to do so will only end in disaster. I’m all for a fun flick about space-bound horrors, but it is a shame that Hollywood is keeping the moon alive but only as an icon of terror. What’s so wrong about treating the moon like it’s something to fall in love with? When did being an astronaut become about inevitable death instead of brave scientific adventuring? Maybe I’m just a sap here, but I’d love to see a new moon-related movie where mankind steps off a lunar lander and triumphs instead of curling up into a ball.
The moon is cool—let's stop trying to make it scary.
November 10, 2010 4:11am EST
Is the arrival of Apollo 18 making other found-footage projects abandon ship?
After reporting on Tuesday that Roland Emmerich's sci-fi found-footage flick The Zone had been shut down, the Heat Vision blog yesterday added that yet another victim in the hot genre had been shelved -- albeit with what looks like a happy ending. The culprit, says HV, is the Timur Bekmambetov-produced Apollo, which the Weinstein Co. boarded this past weekend.
HV provides backstory, recalling that back in October Warner Bros. picked up Dark Moon, a spec script written by Olatunde Osunsanmi, for Akiva Goldsman to produce. Osunsanmi was also on board to direct the found footage project.
The genre's conceit is that the footage purports to be genuine reels, tapes or files found after the person operating the camera expires or disappears. Alien-invasion flick Cloverfield kicked off the recent trend, which also encompasses the hugely successful Paranormal Activity movies.
Like Apollo 18, Moon is based on the idea that NASA's manned moon missions did not stop with Apollo 17.
But, says HV, when Warners execs learned of TWC and Bekmambetov's project over the weekend, they got nervous. On Monday the Moon folks were told their mission was in turnaround.
Cue Dark Castle's Andrew Rona and Alex Heineman, fans of the Moon script. The duo went to boss Joel Silver with the project on Tuesday and Silver reportedly authorized the company to pick the pic up.
Negotiations are still ongoing, but Moon will now be financed and made by Dark Castle, with Weed Road still on board as a producer. The project will shoot this winter -- ironically, for distribution next year via Warners, as per Dark Castle's output deal with the studio.
Back in Emmerich's Zone, the director's camp told HV: "This is not a project (Emmerich) is pursuing at this time."
Members of the production are at a loss as to why the film had its plug pulled, though rumors abound, says HV:
Two factors may be in play: One, the found-footage trope is becoming overplayed, and two, Zone would have been released a scant weeks after another found-footage sci-fi movie.
TWC's Apollo is set for March; Zone would have come out in April.
It looks like in the staring contest between Bekmambetov and Emmerich, Emmerich blinked first, which is too bad as both would have probably been different enough that both filmmakers could have stood tall. Being a marketer on the second movie, however, would have been a tough job.
Source: Hollywood Wiretap
Warner Brothers is taking one small step for ghosts, and one giant leap for ghostkind.
Okay, I'll admit it, that was kind of lame, but the studio just picked up Dark Moon, a new film written and to-be-directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi (The Fourth Kind).
The project envisions a scenario where manned moon missions didn't end with Apollo 17. Stylistically, it will use "found footage" of black ops, post-Apollo missions to the lunar surface. The crew pursues classified scientific discoveries and anomalies, but as their mission continues they run into disturbing discoveries.
So basically, it's Paranormal Activity on the moon.
Dark Moon could be interesting, I guess. At least the premise sounds kind of cool. But Osunsanmi doesn't have the most inspiring filmography. He packs a lot into his movies, causing them to become quite convoluted. Dark Moon could run into similar problems. Furthermore, Akiva Goldsman is on board to produce and with his atrocious 2010 track record (which includes Jonah Hex and The Losers), we've got something to worry about. Hopefully both of them put their best foot forward with this flick, because let's be honest: Space is scary. A well-done thriller with astronauts and ghosts on the moon could be pure terror.
Source: Hollywood Reporter
Paranormal Activity’s unlikely run atop the box-office chart may have come to an end but the moviegoing public’s nascent fascination with otherworldly phenomena — the unfriendly variety in particular — shows no signs of waning. The Fourth Kind a supernatural thriller from writer-director Olatunde Osunsanmi represents Hollywood’s latest attempt to capitalize on this peculiar trend.
Paranormal Activity and The Fourth Kind are very different movies to be sure but they share the same basic approach employing gritty documentary-style footage to convince us that what we’re watching unfold onscreen is more “real” — and thus more convincing — than the typical glossy Hollywood thriller.
But The Fourth Kind goes far beyond Paranormal Activity in its effort to establish its legitimacy. In an unprecedented — and exceedingly ballsy — maneuver star Milla Jovovich begins the film by breaking the fourth wall and addressing the camera directly. In a lengthy monologue she introduces herself as “actress Milla Jovovich ” explains that she’ll be portraying real-life psychologist Dr. Abigail Tyler and declares that the documentary footage scattered throughout The Fourth Kind is authentic recorded during a sleep-disorder study conducted in Nome Alaska a few years ago.
Why Nome? Because we’re told its citizens are afflicted with an unusual number of nighttime sleep disturbances the bulk of which are accompanied by terrifying visions of hostile alien-like creatures. Nasty fellows these extra-terrestrials are taunting and tormenting and probing their victims as they lie helpless paralyzed with fear. Some of the otherworldly visitors even have the audacity to take possession of their somnolent subjects using them as vessels to deliver ominous warnings to Abby and her colleagues. Speaking in ancient tongues with voices horribly distorted they demand that she end her research.
But Abby won’t listen to them and her persistence effects increasingly dire consequences. One of her afflicted patients kills himself and his family; another is paralyzed after levitating during a harrowing hypnotic episode; finally the aliens set their sights on Abby herself. One might be tempted to dismiss these episodes as merely the hallucinations of a badly traumatized woman — the classic unreliable narrator — if it weren’t all captured on video.
For those willing to buy into The Fourth Kind’s claims of authenticity the experience is at times genuinely terrifying. But after a while it becomes increasingly obvious that the film’s documentary sequences are staged — and often badly so. Director Osunsanmi brought a clever idea to the table but he didn't quite have the skills — or the actors — to pull it off and the result feels like an elaborate cinematic con job.