For this month’s next review for Genre Grandeur – Found Footage Movies, here’s a review of Lunopoils (2011) by SG Liput of Rhyme and Reason
Thanks again to Tim of FilmFunkel for choosing this month’s genre.
Next month’s Genre has been chosen by Natasha of Life of This City Girl We will be reviewing our favorite Sci-Fi Movies.
Please get me your submissions by the 25th of January by sending them to email@example.com Try to think out of the box! Great choice Natasha!
Let’s see what SG thought of this movie:
While the crazies tell their tales
Of aliens and hidden trails,
Perhaps the biggest secret fails
To earn the notice it demands.
Human cities on the moon,
A day of portent coming soon-
If claims like these sound like a loon,
Just watch the proof none understands.
MPAA rating: Not Rated (probably R, solely for the frequent language)
I’ve had hardly any experience with found footage, but I can tell from reviews and clips that most of them are rather crappy, even the ones that get big-screen releases. How is it then that Lunopolis is a humble direct-to-video effort and yet is better than most direct-to-video films have a right to be? Lunopolis isn’t the typical found footage style and doesn’t follow the usual tropes of a band of stupid teenagers going off into the woods with a camera. Instead, it feels very much like one of those History Channel shows, like Ancient Aliens, the ones full of conspiracy theories and interviews that manage to be compelling and yet not convincing in the least. Here, though, the conspiracy is real, and placing it in the context of news stories and expert interviews really does make the outlandish surprisingly believable.
Lunopolis starts off with a news bulletin about an Internet video that seems to show someone being shot before the entire scene disintegrates. Then a conspiracy talk show host receives a stranger call than usual about people living on the moon. This call and an accompanying Polaroid photograph convince him to hire a documentary film crew to investigate. Naturally, they find much more than they bargained for, from a strange backpack found deep underneath a houseboat to a glowing moon crystal coveted by the secretive Church of Lunology. This Church of Lunology seems to bear some resemblance to Scientology, with its escaped members warning against its cult coercion and its founder J. Ari Hilliard being a mythologized version of Scientology’s L. Ron Hubbard. There’s a lot of backstory and scientific speculation, particularly once the team meets a whistleblowing former lunologist named David. His explanations of what’s going on are supplemented with sketches and diagrams like those seen in a History Channel documentary, and his conspiratorial accounts cover all manner of sci-fi and myth, from time travel and Roswell to Atlantis and the 2012 prophecies.
Unlike most films, Lunopolis doesn’t try to build characters; by the end of the movie, I couldn’t remember the names of the main pair of guys. Instead, it builds an ever-intriguing mesh of rumor, secrecy, cover-ups, and pseudo-science, which the film crew happened to stumble upon after being “at the wrong place at the right time.” By the end, all the talk of interconnecting time lines and transient dimensionaries becomes confusing, but the science fiction becomes more tangible with a climactic twist I honestly did not see coming. It still left me scratching my head but in a good way, if that makes sense.
While found footage films like The Dinosaur Project are entertaining enough at the time before their flaws become obvious, Lunopolis has only risen in my estimation because it made me think. Sadly, its direct-to-video status has limited its exposure, but it’s the kind of story that deserves to be discussed and debated, like Donnie Darko or Inception. The low budget didn’t allow it to reach its full potential: for instance, one scene of a supposedly flying car looked more like a missile launch. Yet the mystery and exposition make up for the flaws. I still doubt that I fully understand it, but Lunopolis is found footage done right.
Best line: (David) “Nobody knows what’s best for the world!”
Rank: List-Worthy (I never thought a found-footage movie would get this score.)
© 2015 S. G. Liput
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