Saturday, December 24, 2011

Lunopolis (2011)

The mockumentary is a genre that expects us to believe in the impossible in the disguise of the possible. History are filled with, I would say, most interesting productions. It's like the genre itself makes the filmmakers extra careful with details, acting and trying to stitch together a script that will stun the audience. From Zelig and Cannibal Holocaust to The Blair Witch Project and The Last Broadcast, to modern movies like Survival of the Dead to Troll Hunter. Lunopolis was released this year, and so far - and I've seen most of them - this is one of the most powerful and intelligent mockumentaries made. The budget is low and some of the effects (like manipulated photos) aren't the best, but it makes everything come together in the end like never before.

Could the strongest idea with Lunopolis be that they took the most absurd idea, the most wacky storyline every conceived and made  it look like something possible? Yes, the basic idea is that a some filmmakers discovers a strange machine deep down in a secret underground base. It's an electronic device that nearly kills one of them. Everything leads them to The Church of Lunology (who bears more than one resemblance with Scientology) who believes people are living on the moon! The deeper our heroes go the more complicated the plot becomes and soon the day that some people believe is the end of the world arrives, the 21st of December 2012...

Lunopolis mixes every lunatic (sorry) conspiracy theory into one tight script. We have everything from ancient astronauts, hidden structures on the moon, the 2012 doomsday, UFO's, ghosts and sects mixed like never before, and hell yeah, it works! The footage of the crew investigating the leads and sooner or later getting themselves in danger is inter-cut with extremely well-made interviews with experts of mythology, religion, time and space. These are so realistic they could have been take from anything produced by the History Channel. But it's fake and it's so well-made I can't believe it.

What really takes me out of the story whenever it happens are a few not so good manipulated photos and two occasions when a characters draws a gun, which felt both unexpected and not really necessary becomes it suddenly feels like a cheap action movie. But that's my only complains. The rest is a very convincing and entertaining conspiracy-thriller with sci-fi elements. The acting is good, especially from the "experts" and I'm very impressed by the work Matthew Avant and his team has done with finding locations - from the secret underground base to the impressive headquarters of The Church of Lunology.

One of the highlights is actor Dave Potter, playing David James, a "moon-escapee" who wants to tell his story. His performance is excellent, worthy of very price in the book, and reminded me a lot of the equally brilliant performance by Raymond J. Barry in Interview with the Assassin, one of the best mockumentaries ever made. The director, Neil Burger, went on to bigger projects like The Illusionist and Limitless, but his first movie is still the best he made.

The moon has been a source of mockumentaries before: Alternative 3, Dark Side of the Moon, Apollo 18, but Lunopolis is the best. Without a doubt.

Matthew Avant will probably have a similar career, a successful one, but I hope he will stay closer to the ground and make movies like this - or better - in the future... or maybe he already done better movies in the future, or... right now?


Anonymous said...

This flick was awesome and mind warping. I am a hugh fan of the 'handheld genre' if you will, and this flick did not disapoint. I had only one immersion crashing moment which was when the 'lunar disciples' if you will, started cursing and reacting childishly to the fellas. I mean, they should have kept the 'enlightened mystique' imho. I must say, awesome flick.

Ninja Dixon said...

Really enjoyed it too, but I agree on the lunar disciples - they where a bit badly written and under-developed.