Movie review of “Operation Avalanche”: An ingenious low-budget story about what might have happened to the Apollo 11 moon expedition. If you believe it was faked, this movie is for you. Rating: 3 stars out of 4.
If you believe the Apollo 11 moon landing was faked in a studio in 1969, this movie is for you.
Even if you never bought into that urban myth, you may be impressed by the technical achievement of “Operation Avalanche,” which suggests that two nerdy young CIA agents (played by director Matt Johnson and co-star Owen Williams) could fake their way onto the set of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
Movie Review ★★★
‘Operation Avalanche,’ with Matt Johnson, Owen Williams. Directed by Johnson, from a screenplay by Johnson and Josh Boles. 93 minutes. Rated R for language and brief sexual reference. Sundance Cinemas (21+).
Their visit, including “The Blue Danube” on the soundtrack, comes complete with a detailed demonstration of Kubrick’s front-screen projection techniques in 1968. In the background, off in the corner of the frame, the “Dawn of Man” sequence seems to be unfolding in all its evolutionary glory.
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As Kubrick references begin to pile up, one begins to wonder: Is this not the most obsessive fan-based mockumentary ever made? “Spinal Tap,” look to your laurels. What exactly is going on here?
As the filmmakers demonstrate by diving into NASA’s archives, JFK promised the moon, or a landing on it. In 1978, Peter Hyams’ conspiracy thriller, “Capricorn One,” dealt with a faked trip to Mars, while Rodney Archer’s “Room 237” (2013) collected theories about Kubrick’s “The Shining’ (1980).
They all suggest alternate realities, but few dramatize it quite as convincingly as “Operation Avalanche.” If you have any ideas about what’s actually taking place in Johnson’s movie, hang on to your seats. Ingeniously using his low budget to address his ambitions, Johnson has directed, co-written (and starred in) a unique science-fiction film.