Operation Avalanche

2016

Drama / Mystery / Thriller

49
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 69%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 62%
IMDb Rating 6 10 4027

Synopsis


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January 14, 2017 at 03:03 AM

Director

Cast

John F. Kennedy as Himself
720p 1080p
683.38 MB
1280*720
English
R
23.976 fps
12hr 0 min
P/S 6 / 58
1.42 GB
1920*1080
English
R
23.976 fps
12hr 0 min
P/S 11 / 52

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Friso Woudstra 9 / 10

Brilliant and misunderstood

I've rated all movies I watch for years now, but this movie compelled me to write my first review. Mainly because of the disturbing amount of reviews of people who just don't seem to understand what they've been watching. Before watching this movie I knew nothing about it, just found it on the new releases on Netflix.

Operation Avalanche is a low-budged retro styled (late sixties) found footage movie by Matt Johnson. Though it is a mystery-thriller movie, it also has elements of a documentary and even some comedy. The film aims to build a realistic, lively background story for the alleged filming of the fake moon landing footage. It incorporates some of the moon landing skeptics' (or conspiracy thinkers) most cherished arguments and theories. Like for instance the link with Stanley Kubrick. The use of stock footage from his sets of 2001: A Space Odyssey was one of my favorite moments in the movie.

From Wikipedia: 'The NASA scenes were shot on location. To get permission, Johnson told them he was making a student documentary. Additional scenes were accomplished through liberal application of newly-permissive fair use laws.' That's what I call brave.

Though I found Johnson's vision wild, yet well established - many have mocked this movie for basically not understanding it. This is not a conspiracy movie. This is not simple entertainment. It's a piece of art, historical poetry - albeit the history of the greatest conspiracy of all. Furthermore the movie uses all cinematographic tricks to warn us of those very same tricks. It distorts reality with realistic looking (historical) footage as a way to educate us on how we could actually be manipulated by films. Even halve a century later.

Some blame the movie for being badly filmed. Or even amateurish. The handling of the camera is some of the best I've ever seen! That car chase scene must surely be one of the best in cinematic history. All in one single shot. The Cinematography by Raab and Apelle is one of the most noteworthy of everything I've seen in the last years. Showing how photographic images can be faked – in mere seconds. Showing us Kubrick's front screen projection technology and its use; just a background scene in this movie. Outstanding! The sets on which the fake moon landing footage is made in the movie are great as well. Everyone knows these classic shots from the original NASA moon landing footage. Lovely to see these shots recreated within the framework of found footage thriller.

The acting, which is said to be the result of improvisation, of the directer himself and a small cast of unknown actors is lively. Standout in the found footage genre I'd say. It doesn't even look like acting, just like actual historical footage.

Conclusion. By far the best and most relevant found footage movie ever made. Entertaining, educational and exciting – especially for those who really like the profession and technology of film making. It is also the best ode to the work of Stanley Kubrick in any film – and mind you, there are many such examples.

Reviewed by Greg Phipps 8 / 10

Johnson's sophomore effort is an impressive period piece

Matt Johnson previously directed The Dirties which was shot for less than $10,000, blew away audiences at Sundance and nabbed an exclusive distribution from Kevin Smith's company. I personally was very impressed with the gritty independent style of the film, and it left me wanting more from the filmmakers.

With Operation Avalanche, Johnson is 2 for 2, delivering another solid film through his directorial style and performance. I'm not sure whether the film was shot digitally or on 16mm, but the cinematography throughout the film thoroughly immersed me in that 1960s environment. The other actors, Owen Williams and Josh Boles deliver authentic performances as CIA agents faking the moon landing.

The film's dramatic tension is key here; scenes which are otherwise simple moments in an operation are brought to life by the film's unique staging and editing methods. In terms of historical accuracy, it's obvious that the film is merely faction, that is, taking archive footage of real people working at NASA in the 60s and seamlessly blending them into the narrative while still maintaining many details from the moon landing conspiracies. The script is structured in such a unique way that it's apparent how powerful editing can negate a bigger budget.

Johnson has proved again that he knows the mockumentary format and how to keep a viewer on edge throughout a film. Even though the dialogue in the movie was mostly improvised, it feels completely organic. The film's real strength is in its tension, specifically the car chase at the climax of the film. Its staging and execution solidified it as one of my favorite all time chase scenes in a movie, without a doubt. I can't wait to see what Johnson and co. make next!

Reviewed by Matthew Kresal 8 / 10

Conspiracy Thriller As Documentary

Normally the "we faked the moon landings!" conspiracy theory makes my blood boil. That is even more true when people go out and make 'documentaries' trying to prove it to actually be the case. That said, the idea had produced some good fiction in its time including the 1970s conspiracy thriller classic Capricorn One. Added onto that list as well is this film, a indie made period thriller with a neat twist.

That neat twist is that it looks and feels like a documentary being made in the 1960s. Operation Avalanche which claims to be a documentary following a group of CIA recruited filmmakers led by Matt Johnson (playing a fictional 1960s version of himself) whom, upon discovering NASA is behind schedule, convinces his bosses to let him and his team stage the Apollo 11 moon landing. If nothing else, it is a great way to bring to life an old idea.

In fact, it is the documentary style nature of it that is what make this film. Johnson and many of his lead actors are playing fictional versions of themselves and (as the DVD extras reveal) there was a large amount of improvisation of dialogue going on, something which is evident. Evident not in a bad way but in that it means that there is always the sense that these are people in the heat of the moment. The reactions to things are never over the top but range from the comedic to the panicked, all of which are believable as the events taken on an increasingly darker tone.

Yet the film has more going for it than just a good idea. Despite being indie made, the film features some of the finest period production values for a film set in the 1960s that I can recall seeing in recent memory. There are cars, clothes and yes even sets. It is sets that are among the most impressive elements of the film including the construction of the one that represents the Eagle lunar module on the Sea of Tranquility. As a NASA buff, I was impressed by the level of detail put into the film's NASA focused elements right down to recreating moments from a couple of later Apollo landings. It's impressive to say the least.

The highlight of this film though might be in its cinematography and effects. The film has the look and feel of 16mm 1960s film in its look, containing the right amount of grain and an occasional washed out look to it. The camera-work as well plays well with the found footage format but also manages to avoid much of the shakiness that has become an all too frequent part of the genre. Indeed, it is to the credit of the filmmakers that they find just the right balance to make it believable but also not a frustrating (and for some even nausea inducing experience). The effects meanwhile are subtle and impressive, often finding ways to put the actors into real-life NASA footage including an impressive sequence in Mission Control where the footage works brilliantly with the scene playing out. The most impressive sequence of the entire film might well be the CIA filmmakers visit the set of Kubrick's 2001 in the UK complete with Stanley Kubrick himself. It's something that sets this film apart from both many indie films but conspiracy thrillers as well.

All of which makes Operation Avalanche an impressive piece of work. It's an incredibly well made piece of work combining a period film with a thriller plot told in a documentary style. That also helps make the outrageous premise believable, presenting an (on the surface at least) idea of how it might have happened. If you enjoy conspiracy theories or the found footage genre, this is well worth a watch.

Just remember, it ain't real...

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