Movies that are based on conspiracies can get a real battering when they try and convince you that what they are telling is true. And there’s been more than enough chatter over the Moon Landings to fill a click-bait website for the next decade. So why care for this release, “Operation Avalanche”? Well, let’s take a look into that today.
This takes the twist where the conspiracy is set within an alternative fantasy, so to speak. NASA are struggling to keep ahead of Russia in the Space Race, and to add to their headache, it is believed that a Russian spy has infiltrated NASA but their identity is unknown. A small team is sent in under the mask of a documentary crew in order to gather intelligence for the CIA, but when it becomes clear that the U.S. have fallen way behind in planning to land on the Moon, the brainstorm hits to fake the entire landing and pass it for actually taking place. But delving into Operation Avalanche has them under watch from unknown men, with doubt and conspiracies running wild.
As a setup, this takes the whole conspiracy angle, and bends it into a fictional story that as surprising as it may sound, makes for an interesting premise. An alternative timeline may well have had this take place when you consider the stakes at hand for the U.S. if they did not reach the Moon first. The whole piece is shot in an old-style found footage format, which despite running astray near the end, keeps faithful to having you elieve you are watching recorded material from the 1960’s.
Matt Johnston directs, with the lead actors including himself, Owen Williams, Josh Boles, and Ray James. A fairly unknown cast for sure, but this format of film seems to fit them well. At least the script gives them a few strengths to work with, and the limited cast has them working together for the majority of the running time. Nothing particularly spectacular to report, but quite good all the same. That found footage method is a blend of actual video from the time, as well as the movie’s film being digitally altered and filtered to look old. I think that for the majority of it, it works to merge the two together. But there are a few moments where the contrasting and saturation gets a bit too heavy. At least the excuse for why they are recording everything is explained in a way that gives it meaning, and not just a random idea.
As for the development of the story, it does a neat job of constructing the fiction for why they go through the time to fake the Moon Landing. The transition from finding the interior spy to that isn’t exactly smooth, but for something that came from an unknown director and writer, it isn’t bad at all. And like I said before, it makes sense that the things which occur do happen when you consider the times it takes place in, so rather than scoffing at the conspiracy, you enjoy the fiction play out. I was a little disappointed at how the final act worked things out to reach the finale, it didn’t feel as big a pay off as how it must have seemed on paper. There’s certainly some plot holes that the movie falls into, but it manages to carry on nonetheless. And seeing the old school techniques of fooling others into believing the whole thing are very interesting, probably the aspect that I enjoyed seeing the most just because I’m a bit of a geek for the methods.
I picked this up as a rental having no idea at all what it was about, who made it, or how it was received. The last thing I was expecting was a period-piece fictional found footage conspiracy drama! But I must say, as dumb as that all sounds, I quite liked this. It is a nicely fleshed out idea and premise, that adds substance to what would have otherwise have been just another espionage flick set in the 60’s. The pressures and conflicts between the main characters never has events running smooth and keeps it mildly interesting, and the production is relatively strong. I mean hell, this must have been done on a shoestring in terms of funding and source acquirements, but they compiled a nice little film out of it all.
“Operation Avalanche” is almost definitely a movie that you would stumble across accidentally, and discover to be better than you expected. It was mere chance that I picked it up, and goes to show that even if most occurrences end with a mediocre viewing experience, sometimes, you get an interesting piece instead.
Thanks for reading!