Reel Critics: Houston, there's a problem with this 'Apollo' movie

MoviesEntertainmentJustice SystemPG-13 Rated MoviesShark Night 3D (movie)Ryan RobbinsJaws (movie)

"Apollo 18" has an interesting premise — say there was a secret mission to the moon, and you were now able to view undiscovered footage showing how things went horribly awry.

Good concept, boring execution.

This "Blair Witch Goes to the Moon" wannabe is technically proficient but profoundly tedious. You could run out for a burger and back without missing much.

NASA and the Department of Defense tell three eager astronauts (Warren Christie, Ryan Robbins and Lloyd Owen) they've been chosen for a lunar landing so classified, even the screenwriter hasn't a clue why. 

The crew is weightless in more ways than one, even after one of them is attacked by something sinister.  It takes forever to build up even a whisper of suspense, but wiggly moon rocks aren't enough paranormal activity to strike fear in our jaded little hearts.

How I longed for the appearance of a cheesy-looking monster, cheesy dialogue, or even a grilled cheese to save this movie experience from being a total yawn. 

*

'Shark Night' full of gory, but lame plot

Low-budget horror movies are never expected to be high art. "Shark Night 3D" takes this B-movie category down to a sleazy new depth. It begins like a replay of "Jaws," but morphs into a twisted and sadistic plot that challenges the inappropriate PG-13 rating.

It has several good-looking babes in bikinis on a weekend getaway with buffed young men. When giant sharks start picking off members of the party one by one, the lame plot seems as obvious as it is ridiculous. But a nasty modern twist is added to the old story line.

The sharks were brought to the recreation area by a group of gore porn producers. They attach cameras to the man-eating beasts. They capture the bloody deaths of the victims on video to sell on the Internet. Their brutal business involves the taunting and torture of the victims before they are deliberately fed to the sharks.

It's an ugly and cruel variation on the monster movie theme. But this is Hollywood's current idea of PG-13 entertainment for our kids going back to school.

SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a company in Irvine.

JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator.

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