In 1967, CIA agents sent to NASA looking for a Russian spy instead uncover a secret about Apollo 11 that convinces them to stage a fake moon landing.
Director: Matt Johnson
Starring: Matt Johnson, Owen Williams, Josh Boles, Andrew Appelle, Jared Raab, Joe J. Thomas, Tom Bolton, Sharon Belle, Kirsta Madison, Chris Gonsalves, Madeleine Sims-Fewer
Information Page: https://uk.newonnetflix.info/info/80097387
When ‘Operation Avalanche’ was added to Netflix recently there were a lot of people commenting on social media along the lines of “what a stupid film, we all know the moon landings were real – why do we need more conspiracies?”. Unfortunately they missed the point of this clever mockumentary and, before I even write my review, it’s one that I would highly recommend.
First of all let me explain what this isn’t: it isn’t a real documentary, it isn’t a conspiracy theorist’s wet-dream, it isn’t real! It is a work of fiction, it is a mockumentary, it is, for all intents and purposes, just a fun movie. Nothing more, nothing less.
Set in the 1960’s, two CIA agents hear about a possible leak from NASA to the Russians and persuade their bosses to let them go undercover. Posing as documentary filmmakers for the upcoming Apollo 11 mission that eventually took Neil Armstrong and co. to the moon, Owen and Matt get the gig.
The film is very stylised, as though filmed on 16mm film – scratches and all and, in a way, is part of the “found-footage” genre to some degree. The interviews the team have are nicely done and, considering they did actually blag their way into NASA to film the internal sequences, they obviously look real. There is also frequent use of archive footage from President Kennedy’s famous speech and various news reports from the launch itself.
While undercover, Matt and Owen discover that NASA can’t actually get to the moon – at least not before the end of the decade as promised and, as filmmakers, they put forward a plan to fake the moon landing by building an elaborate set in a sound stage and then beaming that footage back to earth from the moon. Quite a lot of time is spent with the group working out how they’ll fake the footage and what important phrases will be used by the astronauts. It’s quite amusing to watch them gradually get to the ‘one small step…’ speech without actually saying it. And with some help from Stanley Kubrick they get some great movie-making tips.
But all is not as it seems as the final act of the story becomes decidedly darker in tone and the conspiracists become embroiled in an unexpected conspiracy themselves.
Overall I would certainly recommend “Operation Avalanche” – it is funny at times, dark at times and very clever throughout.
Have you seen this film? Let us know your opinions in the comments below and of course if there are any films on Netflix UK you want us to review let us know!