Published on September 23rd, 2016 | by Neil Jordan1
Greetings & Salutations Fellow Movie Fanatics!
You’ve heard me say it before. I’ll say it again. Before this year is out, I’ll say it in perhaps another article. The ‘found footage genre’ of movies was played out in perhaps its most notable appearance as well as its debut in the original ‘Blair Witch Project’. Now they’re gearing-up for another round of ‘beating a dead horse’ with a remake would you believe? However, I’m not here writing this article to go on and on and plague your eyes with an entire article complaining about the issue. No. Why you ask? For the unique reason which is since I’ve been writing reviews for movies, ‘Skewed & Reviewed’ has given me the good fortune to screen movies incorporating said genre that present ORIGINAL ideas. Today’s film for your consideration does so in the form of a unique period piece incorporating one of the most notorious conspiracy theories in the world with a pivotal moment in history. Not just in American history but global history.
July 20th, 1969. Less than 10 years after the Cuban Missile Crisis in the midst of the Cold War the great ‘space race’ between the two world superpowers, the Soviet Union and the United States, is on. NASA astronauts Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin, and Neil Armstrong journey to the moon aboard the Apollo 11 spacecraft where Neil Armstrong becomes the first human being in history to set foot on the moon. That’s what the history books say. However, almost immediately after the crew of Apollo 11 returned to Earth there were many individuals on both sides who claimed not only was it not possible to land human beings safely on the moon and return them to Earth, but that NASA had faked the entire event in conjunction with other organizations and agencies within the American intelligence and military communities. This is where the basis for today’s film originates.
‘Operation Avalanche’ is an American-Canadian found footage/conspiracy thriller film directed by Matt Johnson who also starred in and co-wrote the film with Josh Boles. The film also stars Owen Williams, Jared Raab, Andrew Appelle, Madeleine Sims-Fewer, Krista Madison, Tom Bolton, and Sharon Belle. The film begins in 1967. The Central Intelligence Agency suspects that a Soviet mole has infiltrated NASA and is providing the Russians with information on American rocket technology. Four employees of the CIA are sent in undercover as a documentary film crew to determine if the agency’s suspicions are true and to determine the mole’s identity. Instead, what the discover sends shockwaves through the agency’s upper echelons and could potentially lead to a Soviet victory in the space race and bring to light one of the biggest conspiracies imaginable.
This movie is a brilliantly conceived and executed piece of film making. It not only includes historical news footage from the event, but combines it with a bit of guerrilla film-making. The film was shot in Toronto, Washington DC, and Houston, Texas. They were able to shoot on site at NASA by claiming they were shooting a documentary which was not entirely untrue. Essential they sort of broke the ‘fourth wall’ three times. The characters in the film were documentary film makers going undercover to shoot a documentary under the guise of a documentary film crew. The attention to detail from the locations, to the music, to the people themselves (how they looked, talked, and dressed) was something that one would imagine would’ve taken a larger budget. These folks pulled it off brilliantly essentially creating a period piece within the film. You get a genuine sense that the characters are who they act like they are in the particular time and place. Four CIA operatives looking to move up in the agency by moving themselves into place to be assigned to an undercover operation with low risk to themselves with the slight possibility of danger but then get caught up in a secret far bigger than anything they originally anticipated. The senses are heightened, the pace increases, and the conspiracy begins to unfold. The film is most definitely worth checking out. It kinda slows down a bit too much at certain points but all in all an excellent film. I’m going to give it 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. It’s certainly what I’d like to call a ‘thinking persons movie’. If you’re a fan of history, conspiracy theory, or both this film is certainly worth watching.